Greatest Super Bowl Performances
Image source: Grant Thomas

February 2022 might already seem like a decade ago to most football fans as we anticipate the start of a new football season. We remember too well how Cooper Kupp’s clutch play at the Super Bowl LVI earned the Los Angeles Rams their third Lombardi trophy. Kupp also earned a well-deserved Super Bowl MVP for his stellar display against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Does his performance rank as one of the greatest of all time? The answer is no! As great as Kupp is, there have been much greater Super Bowl performances that have stood the test of time. Perhaps, we’ll all look back on our early verdict, but for now, here are the greatest Super Bowl performances of all time:

Larry Fitzgerald (Super Bowl XLIII)

Despite losing to the Steelers, Fitzgerald put on a show at Super Bowl XLIII against the Steelers. He registered seven receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. His second gave the Cardinals a 23-20 lead with less than 3 minutes left to play. This play would have earned him a Super Bowl title and the MVP honors, but unfortunately, the Steelers came out on top.

Joe Flacco (Super Bowl XLVII)

Flacco was phenomenal during the playoffs and kept the same form against the 49ers. He registered three touchdowns in the first half, which gave the Ravens a 21-3 lead, and finished the game with 22/33 passes completed for 287 yards and a 124.2 passer rating.

The 49ers had never lost a Super Bowl game before this.

Drew Brees (Super Bowl XLIV)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have only made it to the Super Bowl once, and Drew Brees ensured that it was a memorable one for NOLA. He completed 32/39 passes for 288 yards which tied him with Tom Brady for the most completed passes at the time. Brees also registered two touchdowns and finished with a 114.5 passer rating.

Eli Manning (Super Bowl XLVI)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: New York Giants

Eli Manning’s stellar performance at the Super Bowl was more than enough to win the New York Giants their fourth ring, defeating the New England Patriots 21-17.

Manning, who is the younger brother of Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, completed 30 out of 40 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He finished the game with a 103.8 passer rating.

Peyton Manning (Super Bowl XLI)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: Indianapolis Colts

The Chicago Bears and Indiana Colts were making their first Super Bowl appearance since 1985. But it was the Peyton Manning-led Colts who came out on top.

It was the first-ever Super Bowl in rainy conditions, but that didn’t stop Peyton Manning from running the show in the most important game of his career. He led the Colts to a 29-17 victory while registering one touchdown, 25/38 passes, and an 81.8 passer rating.

Tom Brady (Super Bowl LII)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: New England Patriots

The Patriots may have lost the title to the Philadelphia Eagles in what’s widely regarded as one of the best Super Bowl games of all time, but Tom Brady put on a show in this game. He set nine Super Bowl records, including becoming the first player to feature and start in eight Super Bowls and the first to throw more than 500 yards in a single Super Bowl game.

Brady finished with three touchdowns, 28/48 passes, and a 115.4 passer rating.

Malcolm Smith (Super Bowl XLVIII)

  • Position: LB
  • Team: Seattle Seahawks

Malcolm Smith led the Seattle Seahawks to their first, and so far, only Super Bowl title in franchise history. The Seahawks were considered underdogs, with Super Bowl odds favoring the Broncos to win their first Super Bowl ring since 1998. However, Seattle would go on to hand the Denver Broncos one of the most humiliating defeats in Super Bowl history.

The game finished with a 43-8 scoreline, the third-largest point differential in Super Bowl history. It was also the first time a team scored 40 while keeping the opponents under 10.

Seattle was up by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, but Peyton Manning’s Broncos were hoping to stage a comeback. But that wasn’t the case as Smith intercepted Manning’s pass before running 69 yards for a touchdown. He finished the game with nine tackles and recovered one fumble.

Tom Brady (Super Bowl LI)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: New England Patriots

Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 28-3 comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. It’s the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, and Brady’s performance will be remembered for all time.

Brady completed 43/62 passes for 466 yards, a Super Bowl record. He finished the game with a 95.2 passer rating and became the oldest player to be named Super Bowl MVP at 39 years old, a record he broke at Super Bowl LIII and again at Super Bowl LV.

Von Miller (Super Bowl 50)

  • Position: LB
  • Team: Denver Broncos

Although this was Peyton Manning’s final game as a professional footballer, it was Von Miller who took home the MVP honors, finishing the season. He registered six tackles, two and a half sacks, and also forced two fumbles. The second fumble was the defining play. It squashed the Panthers’ final chance of winning and led to a Denver touchdown.

Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII)

  • Position: WR
  • Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers became the first team to win six Super Bowl titles after defeating the Arizona Cardinals.

The game finished 27-23, with Santonio Holmes registering nine receptions for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

Aaron Rodgers (Super Bowl XLV)

  • Position: QB
  • Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers led the Packers’ offense to earn them their first Super Bowl win since 1996 and their 4th overall (excluding the 11 they won before the 1970 AFL-NFL merger). Rodgers registered 24/39 passes for 304 yards and finished with a 111.5 passer rating.

Nick Foles (Super Bowl LII)

  • Position: QB
  • Philadelphia Eagles

The backup to Carson Wentz to start the season, Foles played the game of his life in leading a wide-open Eagles to attack, throwing three touchdowns and catching another.

Kurt Warner (Super Bowl XXXIV)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: St. Louis Rams

The Rams kicked off the 21st century as Super Bowl champions after struggling for many years. Kurt Warner registered two touchdowns and 24/45 passes for 414 yards, a record he still holds to this day. He also holds the record for most pass attempts without an interception.

Warner is the most recent player to win both league and Super Bowl MVPs in the same season.

Tom Brady (Super Bowl XXXVIII)

  • Position: QB
  • Team: New England Patriots

We’ve seen many Tom Brady Super Bowl performances over the years, but none compares to this one. It was a fierce battle between Brady and Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme. Both players registered three touchdowns and passed more than 300 yards, but Brady had the last laugh.

The winning performance earned him his second Super Bowl MVP after winning the honors two years prior.

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