Time and a quarterback are common threads through Sip & Savor's Top 5 Super Bowls Ever. That's right, the game is over. The Monday morning quarterbacks are done rating the Super Bowl ads (the commercials by Coca-Cola and Pepsi were very well-received), so we thought we'd play Tuesday morning quarterback and rank the best Super Bowls.
What do our top five have in common? Lots of Kurt Warner, lots of game-ending drama and lots of that game-ending drama coming with 35 seconds remaining in the game (No. 5 on our list comes in close enough.)
5. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16
Great finishes in Super Bowls have become a great recent trend in the NFL. But the first great finish came in 1989 when Joe Montana took the field at his team's own 8 yard line with only 2:10 left in the game. Montana proceeded to methodically pick apart the Bengals defense, taking his team 92 yards in 11 plays for the winning touchdown – a pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left. Broke the Bengals' backs and their fans' hearts; franchise has never recovered.
4. Super Bowl XXXVI: New England 20, St. Louis 17
Remember waaayyy back when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots were a bunch of nobodies and the St. Louis Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf, on their way to becoming the NFL's next dynasty? Well, the reversal of fortune for both teams was set in motion with this thriller. Kurt Warner rallied the Rams late in the game with a touchdown pass to tie the score at 17 with 1:21 remaining. But the Patriots, 14-point underdogs, and its "back-up" quarterback Tom Brady responded with a 53-yard drive to set up a 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as the clock expired. One of the great finishes and great upsets in Super Bowl history. It was the start of a precipitous fall for Kurt Warner and the Rams, and the rise of Tom Brady and the Patriots "dynasty."
3. Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16
Before Kurt Warner suffered heartbreak against the Patriots (and Sunday against the Steelers), he delivered some agony of his own. Warner hit Isaac Bruce with a 73-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 6-point lead against the Titans with 1:54 left. The Titans responded with a heroic effort of their own, as Steve McNair marched his team down the field. In one of the most heart-wrenching moments of Super Bowl history, McNair hit Kevin Dyson on a slant pass only to watch the Rams tackle Dyson less than one yard from the end zone as time expired. This was actually Sip & Savor's favorite Super Bowl, until Sunday, as our heart poured out for the Titans and their wrenching loss. But Kurt Warner was on the top of the world this day.
2. Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England 14
Well, this Top Five seems to have a common subplot as well: what goes around comes around. Just as a scrappy bunch of Patriots put end to any talk of a Rams dynasty six years before, the upstart Giants shocked the world by beating the unbeatable Patriots. Who'll forget Eli Manning somehow emerging from a pack of Patriot sack-men and heaving a ball that David Tyree caught with one hand and his helmet? Then, moments later, Manning hit Plaxico Burress for the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining. An end to the Patriots "perfect season" and an end to the Patriots "dynasty." It is the greatest upset in Super Bowl history. So what could top such a feat? We found out a year later.
1. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
The most remarkable and agonizing ending in Super Bowl history. Kurt Warner, long forgotten from his Glory Days with St. Louis and considered washed up, leads the Cardinals back from a 13-point deficit and is on the verge of completing one of the greatest comeback stories in Super Bowl and NFL history. Warner's 64-yard, quick-hit touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald brought all of America not living in western Pennsylvania to their feet, jumping up-and-down in their living rooms, as the NFL's perennial doormats were leading the storied Steelers 23-20. Only 2:37 remained. But it was more than enough time for Big Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes to pull off the greatest finish in Super Bowl history. Holmes ends the greatest Super Bowl with the greatest catch in a Super Bowl (move over Lynn Swann) at the greatest possible moment. And, yes, Holmes tapped his toes in the edge of the end zone with just 35 seconds remaining to give the Steelers their record sixth Super Bowl title, in the process breaking the hearts of the Cardinals and football fans everywhere. (Come on, Steelers' fans, even you had to shed a little tear for the Cards to lose that way.)
So let's summarize. Kurt Warner was involved in three of the most memorable finishes in Super Bowl history. And three of our top 5 games were decided with roughly 35 seconds left - including back-to-back Super Bowls; the other two were decided with no time on the clock.
The lesson from this countdown: If Kurt Warner's in the Super Bowl, tune in. And the part of the football game that really matters is the final 35 seconds. The rest of the game is really about the cool ads!
Think you can top this Top 5? If so, let us know your list of best Super Bowls ever!