The Superbowl is a uniquely American event. One part championship, one part spectacle, it’s the most watched sporting event of the year even among those who don’t like football. While the commercials are always a treat, the biggest entertainment always comes during the game. Below are five of the most important moments of Superbowl history.
Superbowl XXV: Bills Wide Right
A heartbreaker for the perennially unlucky Buffalo Bills, this is the kick that moved the team from true contenders to late-night punchline. The team was only down by one, well inside field goal range and had eight seconds left. The kick, however, went slightly to the right and ended the Bills’ hope for a Superbowl ring. This moment is one of the true nail biters of football history, and perhaps one of the great what-ifs in regards to the reputation of a team and its town. But for a slightly wide kick, the Bills could have made history.
Superbowl XXXIV: One Yard Short
The Tennessee Titans haven’t had the best luck when it comes to the Superbowl. In this one moment, though, it made all of the team’s other problems fall away. Instead of clutching their first Superbowl in, the team would forever be haunted by the fact that they came in one yard short. The definition of falling short on a clutch play, there’s been few plays that were reviewed with such anticipation as this. The Titans truly found out that football is a game of inches, not yards, at the Superbowl.
Superbowl XLII: The Giants Win
There have been few games in NFL history that could match the story behind this Superbowl. The New England Patriots came into the game undefeated, but on the heels of a cheating scandal. The Giants were the underdogs, expected to go down easily to the more experienced dynasty. All it took, though, was one entirely improbable reception to change the way history swung – and give Eli Manning his first Superbowl ring. The game itself was great and ought to be remembered on its own merits, but nothing beats the narrative of Superbowl XLII.
Superbowl XLVII: No Power
It’s arguable that Superbowl XLVII would have been so memorable if everything had gone right. While most experts were fairly confident that the Ravens were going to steamroll the 49ers, no one could have predicted that the lights would have gone out in the beleaguered city for over half an hour during the third quarter of the game. While the break did give the 49ers time to mount something of a comeback, it was all for naught. The lights went out in New Orleans, but they had long since gone out on San Francisco’s Superbowl hopes.
Superbowl XXXVII: Janet Jackson
Sometimes, the most memorable thing to happen at a Superbowl is during the halftime show. While there are plenty of people who can give you the tale of tape when it comes to the game, almost everyone who watched the game can tell you exactly what happened to Janet Jackson during the half-time show. Not only did the controversy effectively censor television in the United States for the better part of a decade, but it was also responsible for forcing the NFL to put on almost a decade’s worth of safe and boring half-time shows.
The best moments in Superbowl history happened both on and off the field. There was hope and failure, drama and excitement. At the end of the day, though, each moment just built the excitement for the next year’s game.