Every kid who held a football in his hands has dreamed about playing in the Super Bowl. For a select few, that dream becomes a reality. The following list features the top 10 individual performances in Super Bowl history.
1) Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
After winning two Super Bowls as a backup to Joe Montana, Young finally got a chance to make his own mark as San Francisco’s starting quarterback. He did that and more against the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. The 1994 NFL MVP completed 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards and a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 49-26 rout of the AFC champions. The athletic Young added 49 yards on five carries in the game, and finished with a 134.8 QB rating.
2) Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIV
The top-rated quarterback in Super Bowl history had his greatest day on January 28, 1990. The 49ers’ Hall of Famer was near perfect in dismantling the Denver Broncos’ defense, completing 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards, five touchdowns and a 147.6 QB rating. San Francisco’s 55-10 win marked the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history, and it gave Montana and the 49ers their second straight championship and fourth in a decade.
3) Doug Williams, Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII
After trailing the Denver Broncos 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, Doug Williams and the Redskins played the greatest 15 minutes in NFL history. Washington scored a record 35 points in the second quarter, including four touchdown passes from Williams, who finished the game 18 of 29 for 340 yards and a 134.8 QB rating. The Redskins’ 42-10 win also marked the first time an African-American starting quarterback won a Super Bowl.
4) Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders, Super Bowl XVIII
On January 22, 1984, the Raiders faced the defending champion Washington Redskins, a team that not only set an NFL record by scoring 541 points, but featured the league’s top-ranked rushing defense. Apparently the Raiders and their second-year running back didn’t read the stat sheet, as Allen ran for a then-record 191 yards on 20 carries in L.A.’s stunning 38-9 upset win. The dagger was a 74-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Raiders a 35-9 lead, his second score of the game.
5) Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI
In the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, Brady and the Patriots erased a 28-3 third quarter deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. Brady set records with 43 completions, 62 attempts and 466 yards (since broken by Brady himself). He also became the oldest player to win Super Bowl MVP, the first player to win four MVPs, and the first starting quarterback to win five Super Bowls (a record he has since extended to six).
6) Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXXII
Davis and the Broncos faced a tough task on January 25, 1998. They were 11-point underdogs going up against the defending champion Green Bay Packers in a game the AFC hadn’t won in 14 years. In one of the gutsiest performances ever, Davis fought off a migraine headache in the first half to rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the Broncos’ 31-24 win. It was Denver’s first Super Bowl win in franchise history, and the first Super Bowl win by the AFC since 1984.
7) Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIII
Rice couldn’t have asked for a better debut in his first Super Bowl. The All-Pro receiver had 11 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown against one of the league’s best secondaries. He caught a 13-yard touchdown to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, and then added three catches for 51 yards on the game-winning drive, including a 27-yarder to set up the winning touchdown in the 49ers’ 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
8) Von Miller, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl L
Facing the NFL’s top-ranked offense, the 15-1 Carolina Panthers, Von Miller delivered the greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history. The Broncos’ All-Pro linebacker harassed NFL MVP Cam Newton all game long, recording two and a half sacks and two forced fumbles. One of the fumbles was returned for a touchdown by teammate Malik Taylor, giving Denver a 10-0 lead in a game they would win 24-10.
9) Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XIII
In one of the most storied matchups in Super Bowl history, Bradshaw threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Steelers to a 35-31 win over Roger Staubach and the defending champion Dallas Cowboys. Bradshaw won his first Super Bowl MVP, and the Steelers claimed their third Vince Lombardi trophy in five years.
10) Max McGee, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl I
In one of the most improbable performances in NFL history, the 34-year-old McGee, who was filling in for injured starter Boyd Dowler, caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 35-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Incredibly, the 11-year veteran had only four receptions the entire 1966 season. McGee also has the distinction of scoring the first points in Super Bowl history with his 37-yard touchdown catch from Bart Starr in the first quarter.