The Greatest Play in Super Bowl History


It is Super Bowl Sunday …

Super Bowl 50 logo

…the 50th such in NFL history … though not, as some commentators have been saying, “the 50th Anniversary of the Super Bowl” … as it is actually the 49th “anniversary” of the Super Bowl, which was played for the first time in 1967 … though not, at that time, even called the Super Bowl … the first and second of these games were called the NFL-AFL Championship … it wasn’t until the 3rd edition in 1969 that the name “Super Bowl” was applied.

That first Super Bowl, by the way, was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum … among those who filled the Coliseum to about one-half of its capacity (unimaginable today) were my Dad and brother Jerry.

This is also a good day to reflect on the many great players who have entertained football fans in the Super Bowl … and the many great plays we have enjoyed seeing them make … which raises the question … what is the greatest play in Super Bowl History?

There have, of course, been many great Super Bowl plays …

game-winning touchdown passes … like Joe Montana’s to John Taylor …

john-taylor-td-catch-sb-xxiii

… in the 24-20 San Francisco 49’ers win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lCmBvYMRs

great touchdown runs … like Marcus Allen’s 74 yarder …

marcus-allen-sbxviii

… in the 38-9 win by the Los Angeles Raiders over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FngI6dnrBjY

great defensive plays … like the 100 yard interception return by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison …

james-harrison-get_1251403c

… in his team’s 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGYS6IfLZC4

incredible catches … like Lynn Swann’s …

Lynn Swann

… for the Steelers in Super Bowl X …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4FAJ4Bw9-M

… and David Tyree’s “helmet catch” …

tyree-super

…for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGSyzXKy6_I

strange plays … like John Elway’s “helicopter play” …

John Elway Helicopter Play

… for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JffIbLeOa0M

… and the touchdown run by William “The Refrigerator” Perry …

William Perry TD

… for the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITeozxHXzVE

or even the performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston …

Whitney Houston

… before Super Bowl XXV in 1991 …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITeozxHXzVE

… the flat out best rendition ever … by anyone … of our national anthem.

Great plays all … but none of them, in my opinion, was the greatest play in Super Bowl history … on the contrary, the greatest play in Super Bowl history was made late in the game … by a player on the losing side of one of the most lop-sided Super Bowl games ever.

It was a play that made no meaningful difference in the final result … but which demonstrated what it means to never give up … to give your all on every play … and to be an example to all of how this game … and any game … and life itself … should be played.

The game … Super Bowl XXVII … won by the Dallas Cowboys 52-17 over the Buffalo Bills …

the setting … 4th down for the Bills late in the game … QB Frank Reich is sacked and fumbles the ball …

the play … Cowboys DT Leon Lett scoops up the ball at his own 35 and begins rumbling toward the Buffalo end zone …

nfl_g_llett_600

… Bills WR Don Beebe, who had been running a pattern downfield, gives seemingly hopeless chase …

… then, Lett starts to showboat as he nears the goal line … and Beebe reaches out …

Don Beebe strips the ball from Leon Lett.jpg

…and knocks the ball out of Lett’s hand at the one yard line … preventing yet another Dallas touchdown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6gmDtVYdLA

And that play by Don Beebe

Con Beebe

… is the Greatest Play in Super Bowl History.

—–ooooo—–

Three Dot … 120

Cal v. Northwestern … the Good … the Bad … and the Ugly.


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… the GOOD …

QB Jared Goff, first true freshman ever to start for the Bears on opening day, proved he can play football at the college level …

…38 of 63 for 445 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and 4 sacks …

… 445 yards was Cal’s highest passing total ever in a non-overtime game and second highest period …

… it was also the 38th highest passing total in the entire history of the Pac-12

… and was more yards than was ever thrown for by such Pac-12 QB luminaries as John Elway (‘Furd), Troy Aikman (UCLA) and Andrew Luck (‘Furd)

WR Bryce Treggs had 13 receptions for 145 yards …

… the 3rd highest game reception total in Cal history, behind only Geoff McArthur’s 16 in the 2003 Big Game and Dameane Douglas 15 against Oregon State in 1998 …

WR Chris Harper, who had 11 receptions for 151 yards, 52 yard long & 2 TDs …

… the no huddle, up tempo Bear Raid offense proved effective and was efficiently run by Goff

… the team ran 99 plays, third highest in team history, behind 102 v. San Jose State in 1968 and 101 v. San Jose State in 1990 …

… the Bears ran 30 plays in the third quarter …

P Cole Leininger, 6 punts, 43.5 yard average, 70 long and 3 inside the 20 …

K Vincenzo D’Amato, 3 of 3 in field goal attempts (28, 38 & 37 yards) …

Harper, Leininger & D’Amato were named national honorable mention performers of the week Monday by the College Football Performance Awards …

… new Head Coach Sonny Dykes, who had the balls to run a fake field goal at the end of Cal’s first possession, on which D’Amato threw a touchdown pass to holder WR Jackson Bouza

Pregame Welcome to new Head Coach

Pregame Welcome to new Head Coach


… the BAD …

… obviously, the score, being on the wrong end of 44-30 …

… the defense giving up too many yards rushing (209 on 40 carries for Northwestern, a 5.2 yard average) …

… and too many yards passing (299 on just 19 completions, a 15.7 yard average) …

… and too many third down pass completions for first downs …

K Vincenzo D’Amato kicking two kickoffs out of bounds, giving Northwestern the ball at the 35 each time …

… too many penalties (10 for 79 yards) …


… and the UGLY …

… not one but two tipped passes ending up the hands of Northwestern LB Collin Ellis, each of which he returned for a touchdown (56 yards in the 3rd quarter and 40 yards in the 4th) …

… the 4th Quarter roughing the passer penalty called on LB Chris McCain, which was also called “targeting” and resulted in his disqualification for the rest of this game and the first half next week …

… after watching this play on DVR yesterday, it looked to me like a clean hit, head up and into the chest of the quarterback, with McCain already into the tackle when the ball was thrown …

… the new targeting rule, by the way, prohibits initiating contact with the crown of the helmet …

… and targeting and initiating contact with the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent …

… and McCain’s tackle did not appear to do either …

… on the other hand, McCain’s conduct as he left the field was unacceptable.

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Next Up …

Portland State at 2:00 pm on Satuday at Memorial Stadium …

… which some pessimists predicted would be Cal’s only win this year …

Portland State won its season opener 57-17 over Eastern Oregon …

… but look to be over-matched against the Bears

… Predictions:  Cal wins by 30 points and Zach Kline gets some playing time at QB.

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For Cal game report, stats, photos and interviews, see:

http://www.calbears.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=30100&SPID=126513&SPSID=749425

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Bears Enter Memorial Stadium