The Super Bowl is more than just a game, it's an annual celebration of all things NFL. It's become a convergence of pop culture, athletics and multimedia sensory overload. No matter what the event itself has become, one thing remains the same – it's built around a game.
That game, the Super Bowl, has built-in drama, surprises and unexpected results.
top 12 most shocking super bowl moments
Top 12 most shocking Super Bowl moments
The Washington Redskins steamroll the Broncos behind unexpected stars
Super Bowl XXII took place at the end of the strike shortened 1987 season. That was the season that league owners responded to the strike by bringing in replacement players. In a way, that was a theme for the Redskins in the Super Bowl as well.
The Redskins started out the year with Jay Schroeder at quarterback and George Rogers at halfback. By the time they got to the playoffs, however, an ineffective Schroeder had been replaced by Doug Williams, and someone had to replace an injured George Rogers.
Doug Williams was always talented, but faced an uphill fight for legitimacy as an African-American quarterback. He had been drafted by the Buccaneers, left after a contract dispute, joined the USFL, and found himself unemployed after his team folded. He joined the Redskins as a backup.
The rest is history, of course. Williams became the first African-American to start at quarterback in the Super Bowl. The Broncos were favored to win the game, and took a quick 10-0 lead as the Redskins struggled to get the offense going. No team had ever overcome a 10 point deficit in the Super Bowl.
And then the 2nd quarter hit. Doug Williams passed for 4 touchdowns – in the second quarter alone. What was a 10 point deficit became a 35-10 lead by halftime. The one touchdown that wasn’t a pass was unheralded rookie halfback Timmy Smith’s 58 yard burst.
The Redskins shocked the Broncos in an epic second quarter, behind Doug Williams and Timmy Smith. Williams was 9 for 11 in the quarter with 228 yards and 4 touchdowns. Smith had five rushes for 122 yards and a score in the same quarter.
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
The phrase "wardrobe malfunction" wouldn't have sounded familiar 10 years ago and neither would Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even YouTube. On the tenth anniversary of Justin Timberlake revealing Janet Jackson's boob, we imagine how social platforms would've reacted.
"Broadway Joe" and the New York Jets engineer the biggest upset in Super Bowl history
This was the first AFL-NFL Championship game to bear the official name, Super Bowl. It was expected to be more of the same from the first two years – the NFL had dominated the AFL, and was still considered to be the far superior league. Nobody thought that the AFL had caught up to the talent level of the NFL yet, despite the merger now being 4 years old.
The Colts were favored in the game by 18 points, but nobody counted on the brash young quarterback from this upstart Jets team to do what he did.
Joe Namath didn’t just pull out a victory. Joe Namath told the world the Jets were going to beat the Colts, he led the Jets to the shocking domination, and he bathed in the glory of the upset. It was a touchstone moment that changed the newly merged NFL forever.
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
"The Legion of Boom" didn't just dominate the Broncos -- they dismantled them
It may not have been a shock that Seattle beat Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII – after all, Denver was only favored by 2 – but the way in which they did it was certainly shocking.
Seattle absolutely broke Denver’s will, and they did it from the first play from scrimmage. The quickest score in Super Bowl history occurred just twelve seconds in, as Peyton Manning mishandled a bad shotgun snap, the ball bounded into the end zone and Seattle made the tackle.
It was all down hill from there.
Denver’s back was broken, and they never recovered. Seattle led 36-0 before the Broncos high-powered attack could find the end zone.
Seattle became the first team in Super Bowl history to score on a safety, a kickoff return and an interception return, on their way to a 43-8 destruction.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The Patriots shut down "The Greatest Show on Turf'"
The St. Louis Rams came into the 2001 season as a more dominant team than the one that authored the win in Super Bowl XXXIV. They sported the league MVP, quarterback Kurt Warner, and the Offensive Player of the Year, running back Marshall Faulk.
The Rams finished the regular season 14-2, with the number one offense and the number seven defense in the league.
The Patriots started the season with veteran Drew Bledsoe under center, but he was knocked out in Week 2 after a rough tackle caused a severed artery. The backup on the team was a former sixth round pick in his second year, Tom Brady. The head coach, the embattled Bill Belichick, made the controversial decision to hand the reins over to Brady even after Bledsoe returned from his injury. They finished 11-5 and made an improbable run through the playoffs to make it to their third Super Bowl.
It appeared that this would be a walkover for the Rams. They were favored by 14 in the game.
Instead, the Rams found themselves down 17-10 before a game tying touchdown drive engineered by Warner.
It seemed the Patriots, out of time outs, would play for overtime. But Belichick and Brady had other plans. The Patriots marched down the field, setting up Adam Vinatieri’s game winning field goal as time expired.
(Photo by Sylvia Allen/Getty Images)
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It all comes together to create the largest event in American culture. Over its 49 years, the Super Bowl has created some of the most unique moments in memory, moments that would not be possible without the NFL and its championship game.
From last second comebacks, to stars emerging out of nowhere, to heartbreaking misses, to wardrobe malfunctions – we've seen some crazy stuff at the Super Bowl.