As the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl approaches this weekend, Footwear News is rewinding the clock to look back at some key moments in the game’s history.
Earlier this week, we reviewed some of the best footwear ads to air during the commercial break. Now we turn our attention to the real focus: the miraculous on-the-field moments that earned a place in our collective minds and hearts.
Here, we offer our favorites in a highly subjective (and probably controversial) ranking, and also reveal the footwear brands that led these athletes to victory — or in some cases defeat.
1. SUPER BOWL XLII
The Teams: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
The Big Play: After shaking off a fierce defensive attack, Giants quarterback Eli Manning fired one down field to wide receiver David Tyree, who miraculously caught the ball on top of his helmet.
On His Feet: Manning was in Reebok and Tyree was wearing Nike
2. SUPER BOWL XLIII
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Big Play: Steeler James Harrison intercepted a pass from Kurt Warner and returned it for a then-record 100-yard touchdown — a remarkable feat for anyone, but especially for a linebacker.
On His Feet: Harrison was wearing Nike
3. SUPER BOWL XXXIV
Teams: St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans
The Big Play: During the final play of the game, Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson one yard short of the goal line to prevent a potential game-tying touchdown.
On His Feet: Jones was wearing Nike
4. SUPER BOWL XXV
Teams: Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants
The Big Play: In a last-ditch effort, Bills placekicker Scott Norwood attempted a 47-yard field goal that missed the uprights, earning the game its nickname — Wide Right — and securing a win for the Giants.
On His Feet: Norwood was wearing Adidas
5. SUPER BOWL XVIII
Teams: Washington Redskins vs. L.A. Raiders
The Big Play: After a hand-off from quarterback Jim Plunkett, Raiders running back Marcus Allen showed off epic foot work, zigging and zagging across the field before eventually threading his way through a sea of defenders to complete a then-record 74-yard touchdown run.
On His Feet: Allen was in Puma
6. SUPER BOWL XLIX
Teams: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Big Play: With 26 seconds on the clock, rookie Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler shut down the Seahawks’ Super Bowl hopes when he intercepted a touchdown pass intended for Russell Wilson.
On His Feet: Butler was wearing Nike
7. SUPER BOWL III
Teams: New York Jets vs. Baltimore Colts
The Big Play: In today’s game, bragging is nothing new, but quarterback Joe Namath shocked football fans when he guaranteed to a heckler in Miami that the Jets would defeat the Colts. Luckily, his team made good on the promise.
On His Feet: Namath was wearing Riddell
8. SUPER BOWL X
Teams: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Big Play: Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann was named the MVP for his many heroics in the game, but his biggest moment was a 53-yard reception from quarterback Terry Bradshaw that bounced out of the hands of a Cowboy defender.
On His Feet: Swann was wearing Spalding
9. SUPER BOWL XXIII
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Big Play: Following a 92-yard drive down the field in less than three minutes, 49ers quarterback Joe Montana found receiver John Taylor in the end zone for a game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass.
On His Feet: Montana was in Mizuno and Taylor was in Puma