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50 Greatest Super Bowl Moments

From pre-game to halftime to during the game, the most memorable events from football’s biggest event

Prince Super Bowl XLI

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As Super Bowl XLVIII fast approaches, a nation once again collectively wonders what scintillating plays will go down in NFL lore, which Seahawk or Bronco might spout off some retweetable post-game rant, what commercial will become watercooler fodder and if Bruno Mars will bring it at halftime. We don't know the answers, but we do know that there are unforgettable moments waiting to happen on February 2nd.

Super Bowl 2014: Rolling Stone's Complete Coverage

Before then, we've looked back at the 47, er, XLVII, prior editions of the Super Sunday gridiron spectacle,  and compiled 50 moments that, for better or worse or irrevocably, have defined why we tune in. As you'll see, what happened between the sidelines is only a part of what goes down in Super Bowl history.  

By Kenny Herzog

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The First ‘World Championship Game’ Touchdown

Super Bowl I, January 15th, 1967

America's most-watched sporting event wasn't officially decreed the Super Bowl until two years later, but for all intents and purposes, this inaugural clash (the "World Championship Game") between AFL and NFL superpowers (eventually re-assigned as the AFC and NFC) is regarded as SB I. And its very first points were tallied when little-used Green Bay Packers receiver Max McGee − an in-game sub for injured Boyd Dowler − snagged a touchdown pass from Bart Starr, one of the pair's two TD hookups that day en route to a victory over Len Dawson's Kansas City Chiefs. 

Super Bowl I Kansas City Chiefs Green bay Packers

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NBC’s Halftime Gaffe, Super Bowl I

January 15th, 1967

Before arena blackouts and other anomalies befell the big game (more on that later), there was Super Bowl I's infamous halftime kickoff snafu. Both NBC and CBS were broadcasting the showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs live (the former owned AFL TV rights, the latter the NFL's). While an NBC correspondent was interviewing comedian Bob Hope, the network neglected to switch back to the game and missed the second half's opening moments. Consequently, the kickoff was whistled dead and Green Bay was forced to re-kick. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, it did nothing to reverse their fate, as the Packers won by a score of 35 to 10. 

vince lombardi super bowl II

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Vince Lombardi’s Hero’s Send-off, Super Bowl II

January 14th, 1968

Vince Lombardi has been immortalized on stage and screen, and is American sports' template for coaching excellence. (He also made the front-toothed gap en vogue decades before Michael Strahan.) The famously stern leader was all smiles when his players carried him off the Orange Bowl turf on their shoulders after Green Bay toppled Oakland to take their second consecutive Super Bowl win. It was Lombardi's last stand with the Pack, capping a nine-year run that featured seven collective titles. To this day, he's still symbolically hoisted overhead in triumph, as the Super Bowl trophy bears his name. 

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Joe Namath’s Guaranteed Victory, Super Bowl III

January 12th, 1969

When Jets QB "Broadway" Joe Namath casually rebutted a cocky Baltimore Colts fan by guaranteeing a win over the heavily favored opponents, his assurance put a sensational charge into Super Bowl III. But it's the image of Namath holding a solitary we're-number-one finger in the air as he ran off into the tunnel following his team's improbable 16-7 victory that drives otherwise long-suffering Jets fans into sweet reveries. 

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Baltimore’s Rebound Reception, Super Bowl V

January 17th, 1971

Kicker Jim O'Brien's field goal cinched the Colts' first Super Bowl win, 16-13, over the Dallas Cowboys. But as legendary Baltimore QB Johnny Unitas would certainly attest, they would have never been in that position if his early second-quarter pass hadn't fortuitously bounced off a defender's hands into the arms of tight end John Mackey, who brought it all the way home for a 75-yard score. 

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Duane Thomas’s Silent Treatment, Super Bowl VI

January 16th, 1972

Enigmatic Dallas running back Duane Thomas declared a vow of media silence in the days leading up to Super Bowl VI. Although when he did offer some insight into his Cowboys' contest versus the Miami Dolphins, it was a rhetorical gem worth the wait: "If it's the ultimate game, how come they're playing it again next year?" Fittingly, Thomas did his finest work sans words, as he rushed for 95 yards and a TD in Dallas' 24-3 cakewalk. After the game, he continued his wonderfully tight-lipped ways. CBS television announcer Tom Brookshier noted Thomas' speed and asked him, "Are you that fast?" Thomas's reply? "Evidently."

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The Dolphins Complete Undefeated Season, Super Bowl VI

January 16th, 1972

The 2007 New England Patriots came oh-so close to joining Miami coach Don Shula's 1972 Dolphins in immortality, losing in the Super Bowl to finish 18 and 1. But alas, those Bob Griese-and-Jake-Scott-led fish remain the one and only NFL team ever go an entire season without tallying a loss, a feat they capped off with a gritty 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins and a signature shoulder-ride out of the L.A. Coliseum for Shula. Final record: 17 wins 0 loses.

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Lynn Swann’s Leap, Super Bowl X

January 18th, 1976

There's rarely been a more aptly named athlete than Steelers receiver Lynn Swann, who was one of football's most graceful players. His talents ran amok in Super Bowl X, which kicked off a fierce, several-year rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys. While a fourth-quarter, 64-yard TD catch from Terry Bradshaw sealed an eventual 21-17 win, it was Swann's mesmerizing juggling act to snare a 53-year heave launched from the Steelers' own end zone just before halftime that the people of Pittsburgh still remember.

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Jack Tatum Blows Up Sammy White, Super Bowl XI

January 9th, 1977

Though helmet-to-helmet collisions now elicit cringes and concern over players' well-being, it's hard not to be awed by the force of the impact when Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum barrelled into Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sammy White at the apex of a crossing-route dart from Fran Tarkenton. White's helmet seems to sail in the air nearly longer than the football. Even more astoundingly, White held on for the first down. Sadly, his toughness went for naught, as the Raiders roughed up the Vikes on the way to a 32-14 win.

Tom Landry Super Bowl

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Gate-Crasher Dion Rich Hoists Tom Landry, Super Bowl XII

January 15th, 1978

Dion Rich is the proud, self-professed "world's greatest gate-crasher." He's managed to sneak into and photo-bomb Olympic events, Golden Globes ceremonies and, yes, the Super Bowl. That guy who looks a used-car salesman carrying off Dallas coach Tom Landry following Super Bowl XII? Yep, that's Rich, who would pose as team staff and/or wear disguises to worm his way onto the field each Super Bowl Sunday until he began actually paying for entry several years ago. As of this article's publication, he was still searching for a cheap ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII.

thomas hollywood henderson

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Hollywood Henderson Rips Terry Bradshaw, Super Bowl XIII

January 21st, 1979

For better or worse, Dallas linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson arguably propelled the modern art of smack-talk in sports to its current lofty plane. Witty and brash, Henderson told reporters just before SB XIII that Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw "couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the c and the a" (remarks for which he publicly apologized 17 years later). Of course, Henderson was the one left smarting when Dallas fell 35-31. 

Oakland Raiders Rod Martin Super Bowl XV

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Snatching Victory From Jaws, Super Bowl XV

January 25th, 1981

The majority of ESPN viewers likely know Ron "Jaws" Jaworski as a former Monday Night Football analyst first and erstwhile star Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller second. Jaws can partly thank Oakland linebacker Rod Martin for that, as the Raiders' speedy man on the edges snagged a record three interceptions during his squad's 27-10 domination. It was the first time a wild-card team had held the Lombardi Trophy.

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Marcus Allen’s Outside-Inside Gallop, Super Bowl XVIII

January 22nd, 1984

The only thing more astounding in Super Bowl XVIII than the famous Apple ad that aired during the telecast (wait for it) was Raiders running back Marcus Allen's electrifying third-quarter score. Bouncing, spinning and brushing off Washington linemen like they were lint, Allen ran three-fourths of the field for a final nail-in-the-coffin touchdown, ratcheting the Raiders' lead to 35-9. 

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Apple’s Orwellian Ad, Super Bowl XVIII

January 22nd, 1984

Advertising, during or apart from the Super Bowl, doesn't get much more iconic than this spot that got tongues wagging following the L.A. Raiders' 38-9 evisceration of Washington. Directed by Ridley Scott and taking a page from George Orwell's 1984, Apple contrasted images of slack-jawed serfs obeying an omniscient leader (i.e. the computing masses) with a punky, sledgehammer-wielding woman (i.e. Macintosh) bent on destroying the oppressive machine. 

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Refrigerator Perry Ices Bears’ Win, Super Bowl XX

January 26, 1986

Everyone's favorite "Superbowl Shuffle"-ing rookie defenseman, William "the Refrigerator" Perry, was often put into goal-line situations as a fullback by Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka. And with his good-time squad up 37-3 on the lame-duck New England Patriots, Ditka let Perry rumble in from one yard out, tallying what would be Chicago's final TD in the lopsided shellacking. "That one registered a 3.8," the broadcasting booth aptly quipped as Fridge spiked the pigskin and iced the victory.

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The Big Tuna’s Gatorade Bath, Super Bowl XXI

January 25, 1987

Though hotly debated (especially by Bears fans), it's typically acknowledged that the bone-chilling practice of dousing winning coaches in Gatorade caught fire after Giants linebacker Harry Carson was spied drenching Bill "The Big Tuna" Parcells on the sidelines of a national TV game in 1986. Later that winter, once the G-Men secured their 39-20 romp of the Broncos, they demonstrated proper dunking technique in front of a worldwide viewership, and no coach has been safe from electrolyte-rich hypothermia since.

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Phil Simms Punches a Ticket to Disney World, Super Bowl XXI

January 25th, 1987

One Super Bowl XXI factoid that's never been disputed is Giants QB Phil Simms' participation in the first-ever "I'm gonna go to Disney World!" post-game spot. The virtually real-time promo is now a rite of passage for the game's standout players. 

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Doug Williams’ 15 Minutes of Fame, Super Bowl XXII

January 31st, 1988

An outspoken and powerful athlete, former Tampa Bay QB Doug Williams had fled to the USFL after a contract dispute with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before Redskins coach Joe Gibbs snatched him up for the 1987 season. Good move. After starting quarterback Jay Schroeder went down with injury, Williams stepped in, led the 'Skins to the Super Bowl, and in a second quarter for the ages, completed 9 of 11 passes for 228 yards and four (!) touchdowns. He'd be named MVP and, was the first black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl.  

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Stanley Wilson’s No-Show, Super Bowl XXIII

 January 22nd, 1989

Former Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche still groans about it to this day. His stellar running back, Stanley Wilson, was a potential key cog if they hoped to overcome Joe Montana's juggernaut San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. Sadly, Wilson missed a team meeting that morning and was later found in a hotel bathroom, having lapsed into a crack-cocaine binge. Wilson was scratched from the game, and San Fran edged out Cincy in a 20-16 thriller. 

Joe Montana Super Bowl XXIII

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Joe Montana Spies John Candy, Super Bowl XXIII

January 22nd, 1989

Most of us would crack under the pressure of Super Bowl contention, or at least demonstrate some kind of shattered focus. But then, there's a reason guys like Joe Montana are who they are. The eventual four-time champ was so non-plussed en route to his team's nail-biting win against the Bengals that, during San Fran's game-clinching drive, he turned to teammate Harris Barton and asked, "There, in the stands, standing near the exit ramp… Isn't that John Candy?" And the cooler head prevailed. 

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Joe Cool Comes Through, Super Bowl XXIII

January 22nd, 1989

Mere minutes after supposedly stopping to note John Candy's presence (see previous entry), Montana sealed Cincy's fate with an 11-yard TD strike to receiver John Taylor deep in the end zone. It was the climactic play not just of a terrific contest, but a remarkable 92-yard drive that commenced with just over three minutes to go and San Fran trailing by a field goal. Every quarterback since who's made a career of making it look easy (that means you, Tom Brady) had found their muse.

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The Bud Bowl’s First Draft, Super Bowl XXIII

January 22nd, 1989

The unheralded winner of SB XXIII was Anheuser-Busch, which launched its first Bud Bowl campaign. The concept was ingeniously simple, and kind of adorable: animate bottles of Bud and Bud Light and have them play out four quarters of football over several ads. Toss in color commentary about their crisp, delicious flavor, sprinkle cute copy like, "The cans go wild," and boom: A phenomenon is born. The last in-game Bud Bowl aired in 1997, but as recently as 2008, Anheuser's staged the occasional BB in host cities for old times' sake (and merch sales). 

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Whitney Houston Amazes, Super Bowl XXV

January 27th, 1991

Whitney Houston had her share of iconic moments, but Grammy and American Music Awards performances aside, the late diva's signature in-concert moment came while bedecked in a patriotic tracksuit and headband. Opening up Super Bowl XXV with a soul-stirring "Star Spangled Banner" that doubled as homage to our troops engaged in Operation Desert Storm, she truly, indisputably moved a nation with her talent. 

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New Kids Break New Ground, Super Bowl XXV

January 27th, 1991

1991's halftime show didn't quite have the gravitas of Whitney's national anthem, but it is a landmark Super Bowl memory. After decades of marching bands and family-oriented musical numbers that had most of the audience vying for bathroom breaks, the telecast's producers got (sort of) hip and hired New Kids on the Block to deliver "Step by Step." OK, they were still surrounded by dancing toddlers and castle floats, but Donnie Wahlberg brandishing a big-ass gold chain was, till that point, as edgy as the affair had ever been.

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Wide Right, Super Bowl XXV

January 27th, 1991

There was one final standout occurrence in Super Bowl XXV, and this one pertained to the actual outcome of the game. Poor Bills kicker Scott Norwood invoked Bill Buckner-worthy ire from Buffalo fans, and even partially inspired the plot of Ace Ventura, when he narrowly hooked a potential game-winning 47-yard field-goal wide right. The Giants consequently walked away with a breathtaking 20-19 victory, as Norwood hung his head (unfairly, if you ask many) in shame. Worse yet, the miss begat a Super Bowl losing streak for Buffalo, with Norwood's error still remembered as a symbolic bad omen. 

Thurman Thomas super bowl xxvi

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Thurman Thomas Loses His Head, Super Bowl XXVI

January 26th, 1992

Thurman Thomas has little to apologize for when looking back at a Hall of Fame career. He ticked off eight consecutive 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons for Buffalo in the 1990s, and was all but anointed Super Bowl XXV MVP (if the Bills had won). Alas, we all have brain farts, and at the outset of Super Bowl XXVI against Washington (which would become Buffalo's second of four straight such defeats), Thomas couldn't locate his helmet and actually missed the opening pair of plays, giving new urgency to that adage about keeping your head in the game.

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Michael Jackson’s Magic, Super Bowl XXVII

January 31st, 1993

The King of Pop was still in world-domination mode more than a year after Dangerous when he stormed the Rose Bowl in full pseudo-tsarist regalia. He appeared mid-field amid a plume of smoke after deking out onlookers via a bevy of MJ impersonators atop the stadium's scoreboards. Sure, he started out with "Jam," but before long was running through "Billie Jean" and setting "Heal the World" against a crowd-participation stunt that has to be seen to be believed. Jackson's SB XXVIII production showed why, at the time, he still seemed capable of anything.

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Crystal Pepsi Dates Itself ‘Right Now,’ Super Bowl XXVII

 January 31st, 1993

If two words were ever synonymous with forward thinking, they figured to be some combination other than Sammy and Hagar. Alas, the soft-drink giant's ad agents deemed Van Halen's broad pro-everything ballad "Right Now" the perfect soundtrack to a breathless ad introducing the "natural," preservative-free and, most crucially, translucent drink, Crystal Pepsi. This minute-long spot remains a quintessential, if oft-chided, marker of instant obsolescence.

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Leon Lett’s Hotdogged Humbling, Super Bowl XXVII

January 31st, 1993

One takes nothing away from Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett's physical strength, but in SB XXVII, Buffalo Bills receiver Don Beebe swiped both the ball and some pride from Lett's fingers. Late in the midst of an eventual 52-17 beating, Buffalo QB Frank Reich fumbled in Dallas territory on fourth down. Lett picked up the ball and ran it back, only to slow down and showboat at the goal line, where Beebe caught up and knocked the ball loose and through the end zone for a touchback. Thankfully for the big guy, this was before social media. Shockingly, it wasn't his only in-game blunder.

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith carries the ball against the Buffalo Bills during Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta, Georgia on January 30th, 1994.

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The Buffalo Bills’ Four-Peat of Failure, Super Bowl XXVIII

January 30th, 1994

Whatever face Buffalo saved the year prior by denying Leon Lett that last humiliating score was soon obscured. On Jan. 30, '94, the Bills came out on the wrong side of a fourth straight Super Bowl, losing handily once again to Dallas, 30-13. With it, the Hall of Fame legacies of coach Marv Levy and quarterback Jim Kelly were invariably blemished, and the city of Buffalo was left out in the cold for yet another sports season. The Bills would make the playoffs four of the next five years, but not since that run of semi-respectability. And that ain't all on Scott Norwood.

Reggie White Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XXXI

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Reggie White’s Trophy Run, Super Bowl XXXI

January 26st, 1997

Desmond Howard's 99-yard kickoff return was Super Bowl XXI's big play, but the lasting image is of late, great defenseman Reggie White running around the Superdome, Lombardi Trophy in hand, like the proverbial overgrown kid. White had waited 14 years to grasp that commemorative statue, and earned it too: He set a then-SB record with three sacks of Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe. 

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John Elway Goes Flying, Super Bowl XXXII

January 25th, 1998

With the game against Brett Favre's Packers knotted at 17 in the fourth quarter, John Elway and the Denver Broncos faced a third down at their opponent's 12-yard line. After taking the shotgun snap, Elway ran toward the first-down marker. Two defenders sandwiched the 37-year-old QB, who leapt, and spun around helicopter-style before crashing to the turf with possession of both the ball and the first down. A rushing TD ensued, as did Elway's first of two straight Super Bowl wins.

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The Dot-Com Advertising Era Begins, Super Bowl XXXIV

January 30th, 2000

Now it's a given that online monoliths like E*Trade and GoDaddy fight for prime Super Bowl advertising space with the Cokes and Pepsis of our planet. But that's a distinctly post-Y2K phenomenon. In fact, SBXXXIV is often dubbed the "dot-com" bowl by marketing gurus. Several bubble-ready URLs, flush with investor capital, made a splash that night, including the aforementioned E*Trade, HotJobs and, notoriously, the ephemeral Pets.com. In retrospect, the deluge signified a watershed of viral creativity but stands as emblematic of Web-monetization's early hubris. But at least we got this.

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The Titans Come So Close, Super Bowl XXXIV

January 30th, 2000

The Tennessee Titans lost to Kurt Warner's St. Louis Rams by seven points, but the final gap between the two teams was really only a single yard. Titans receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled by Mike Jones a yard shy of the end zone after corralling a pass by Steve McNair on the final play of regulation. Had he crossed the goal line, the Titans would've needed only a point-after kick to force overtime.

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U2 Leave It All on the Field, Super Bowl XXXVI

 February 3rd, 2002

It may have seemed strange for an Irish quartet to perform a 9/11 tribute at the subsequent Super Bowl. But few bands with U2's global influence and admiration have demonstrated such kinship with America's potential and possibility. Still riding the wave from 2000's comeback album All That You Can't Leave Behind, the band's halftime show crested with emotion when Bono and Co. played "MLK" as the names of victims scrolled behind them, and soared with an incredible "Where the Streets Have No Name," giving voice to the feelings of grief and resilience that had lingered after the terrible tragedy.

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Adam Vinatieri Kicks Off Patriots Dynasty, Super Bowl XXXVI

February 3rd, 2002

"That's the way you should win a Super Bowl," decreed John Madden. It's hard to fathom the Tom Brady-driven Patriots as upstart or underdogs, but they were both heading into that year's game against Kurt Warner's high-octane St. Louis Rams. But when New England kicker Adam Vinatieri − fresh off a miracle OT field goal in the snow against Oakland a few weeks earlier − sailed a 48-yarder through the uprights, marking the first time that the Super Bowl was won on the game's final play, a nation rejoiced for David's mythical overtaking of Goliath, even if the Pats soon assumed the latter role.

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The Wardrobe Malfunction, Super Bowl XXXVIII

February 1st, 2004

What can be said that hasn't already? And has it already been 10 years since Justin Timberlake ripped off Janet Jackson's bodice to culminate "Rock Your Body" and the SB XXXVIII Halftime Show, exposing her breast and launching months of conservative outrage and network backpedaling? "Nipplegate" has since ceded spotlight to M.I.A.'s flip-off and other planned/not-quite-planned scandalizing incidents, but for one glorious, panicked period of time, Janet's display drove the national discourse.

Nipplegate: 10 Years Later

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We’re Going Streaking! Super Bowl XXXVIII

February 1st, 2004

While overlooked amid Janet's flash dance, there was more on-field nakedness to be had during a weirdly tawdry Super Bowl XXXVIII. Just as the second half was about to kick off, British streaker Mark Roberts took the field posing as an official, only to strip down to a G-string and Golden Palace advertisement scrawled across his torso. TV cameras panned out, but Pats special teams member Matt Chatham zeroed in, tackling Roberts before security hauled him away.

Tom Brady Super bowl XXXIX

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Tom Brady’s Sneaky Pass, Super Bowl XXXIV

February 6th, 2005

For the second straight year, versatile Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel pulled in a Super Bowl TD pass from Tom Brady, although this time the two-yard score came at a crucial point in the third quarter with the score tied 7-7 (New England eventually topped the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21). Not only did Vrabel set the Patriots' third championship in four years on its course, but he even rang up a monster sack on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, forever enshrining himself in Pats lore as Foxboro's favorite two-way player.

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The Rolling Stones Rock Detroit, Super Bowl XL

February 5th, 2006

With Super Bowl producers still skittish after Nipplegate a couple years prior, they'd been playing it safer with veteran acts like 2005's Paul McCartney and, this time around, the immortal Rolling Stones. Truth was, Mick and the guys bashed it out at Detroit's Ford Field with the verve of teenage boys, with Jagger in particular looking lean and possessed as they ripped through "Start Me Up" and "Satisfaction" atop a stage in the shape of their lips and lolling tongue logo. The game was won by the Pittsburgh Steelers, by the way. The Black and Gold beat the Seattle Seahawks by a final score of 21-10.

Prince Super Bowl XLI

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Prince Reigns in the Rain, Super Bowl XLI

February 4th, 2007

Much like the Stones, Prince proved a perfect compromise between established artist and slightly racy unpredictability. For the most part, Mr. Rogers Nelson brought family friendly medley mojo to the halftime extravaganza, spanning vintage hits ("Let's Go Crazy") and covers suited to his virtuosity ("All Along the Watchtower"). But when time came for the iconic "Purple Rain" solo, a fortuitous aligning of his irregularly shaped guitar's shadow against a flowing sheet formed some, let's say, suggestive imagery.

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Danica Patrick’s Beaver Teaser, Super Bowl XXLII

February 3rd, 2008

Domain-provider GoDaddy gets flack for what some say are witless, misogynistic Super Bowl spots, but their 2008 campaign was clever on a couple levels. The initially submitted ad−featuring spokeswoman/female auto racer Danica Patrick and an actual beaver in a spoof of the tabloid craze over paparazzi crotch shots − was vetoed by FOX, who was airing the game. So GoDaddy simply threw together a low-wattage teaser for the very same ad and its exclusive availability online, and of course, got more buzz for doing so. 

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David Tyree’s Miracle Catch, Super Bowl XLII

February 3rd, 2008

The New York Giants were massive underdogs to the as-yet-undefeated Patriots when they got the ball down 14-10 with just over two minutes left in the game. Running back Brandon Jacobs converted on a fourth down early in the drive, and on a third-and-five a few plays later, quarterback Eli Manning shook off numerous tackles, planted his feet and heaved one into double coverage towards receiver David Tyree, who miraculously secured the ball with his hands and helmet, never let go and landed safely in Pats territory. One TD fade to Plaxico Burress later and the Giants were kings, 17-14.

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Bruce Springsteen’s Power Slide, Super Bowl XLIII

February 1st, 2009

During the opening moments of the SB XLIII Halftime Show, Bruce Springsteen demonstrated his preternatural vigor by delivering a power slide . . . and careening crotch-first into a low-lying camera during "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." The Internet erupted with good-natured barbs at Springsteen's childlike enthusiasm and the inadvertent crotch shot, but for his part, all the legend could say was, "Too much adrenaline, a late drop, too much speed, here I come boom!" For an event that often feels over-planned, this was a delightfully out of control moment.

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The Steelers Get a Sixth, Super Bowl XLIII

February 1st, 2009

Aging Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, who'd won a championship with the St. Louis Rams, almost had one more title in him. Too bad breakout Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes stood, ran and leapt in his path. After going down 23-20 with just over two minutes to play, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with Holmes time and again. Finally, on second and goal from the five-yard line, Big Ben lasered a pass into the back corner of the end zone, where Santonio nimbly caught hold and kept his feet barely in bounds for the game-winning score as Cardinals defenders flanked him on all sides. It's the kind of play you can practice all week long and never execute with such perfection, and it gave the Steelers their record-breaking "one for the thumb" sixth Super Bowl victory.

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Sean Payton’s Big Gamble, Super Bowl XLIV

February 7th, 2010

New Orleans coach Sean Payton is known for some innovative offensive play calls, but few decisions in Super Bowl history rank riskier than commencing the second half of SB XLIV − down 10-6 to Peyton Manning's Colts − with an onside kick. Thomas Morstead provided the boot, the ball bounced off Colt Hank Baskett  and Saints safety Chris Reis recovered at the Indy 42. The ensuing Saints TD supplied Who Dat nation with a lead that they never relinquished en route to a 31-17 victory. 

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M.I.A. Flips Off America, Super Bowl XVLI

 February 5th, 2012

People forget that M.I.A. censored herself from rapping a designated "shit" while performing "Give Me All Your Luvin'" with Madonna during their halftime show. So maybe it was out of mild protest that she raised a defiant middle finger at the precise moment she would've otherwise let the curse word fly. Turns out, according to M.I.A., the gesture was an homage to Hindu music goddess Matangi's meditative pose. The NFL was not convinced, and sued her for $1.5 mil in damages for breach of contract. 

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Eli the Brady Killer, Super Bowl XLVI

February 5th, 2012

Four years hence from David Tyree's improbable grab, the Giants were up against it again, down 17-15 to the Patriots with four minutes to play, lodged deep in their own territory. On first down, Eli Manning didn't flinch at the four-man rush and lobbed one to receiver Mario Manningham on the sideline. Manningham saw the ball through both defenders and into his hands, all while tippy-toeing in bounds at the 50-yard line. The G-Men would cap things off with Ahmad Bradshaw's winning TD run, but it was that Eli-to-Mario mindbender that set the Pats spinning.

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The Harbowl, Super Bowl XLVII

February 3rd, 2013

Power outages aside, the real narrative of SB XLVII was about coaches John (Ravens) and Jim (49ers) Harbaugh facing off against each other, and marking the first times the two Super Bowl teams had ever been coached by brothers. When older brother John emerged the champ and met Jim at midfield, all eyes were watching as John shook his younger sib's hand, told him he loved him, and the two commended each other on a job well done. Even in the NFL, family matters.

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The Lights Go Out in New Orleans, Super Bowl XLVII,

February 3rd, 2013

Early in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, with the Baltimore Ravens dominating San Francisco 28-6, the lights literally went out in the New Orleans Superdome and suspended play for nearly 35 minutes. When luminescence was restored, the 49ers roared back with renewed energy and made it a game, ultimately getting edged out 34-31. What caused the infamous blackout? Aptly, the culprit was a malfunctioning electrical-relay device designed to prevent power failures, an irony surely appreciated by the exasperated Ravens.

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