The Super Bowl is the biggest stage in American sporting events, and it’s served some fine drama over the years. Additionally we’ve seen some of the biggest flubs to ever go down as well, and that’s what we’re celebrating today. From Garo to Norwood, here are the Worst Moments in Super Bowl History.
Garo Yepremian “Pass” Super Bowl VII
The 72’Dolphins were the only team to go undefeated in the regular season until the 2007 New England Patriots matched them, but the difference was Miami actually won the big one. That’s somewhat of a miracle, considering they had Garo Yepremian on their team.
Hailing from island of Cyprus, Yepremian had never played football until the age of 22, and within six years he was kicking for Don Shula’s Miami squad. I guess in the 70’s, this was a plausible idea. The 72′ squad had suffered a set back when their starting quarterback, Bob Griese, broke his ankle in the fifth week of the season. He was replaced admirably by veteran Earl Morrall for the remainder of the season, until the AFC championship game where Griese returned to action.
Facing the Washington Redskins, the Fish found themselves up by fourteen points with just two minutes to go. Shula elected to kick a field goal and ice the game, eager to get back to the beach. What resulted was one of the most ridiculous, and laughable events in NFL history. Yepremian’s kick was blocked, the ball deflecting backwards, and like a kicker seeking missile it found the hands of Garo. With the Redskins front lines closing quickly, he would attempt a forward pass to Bill Brundige (we think), but the ball would not travel as hoped. Perhaps he never found the laces, or his Daddy never threw the ball around, but this baby never had a chance. Since he wasn’t Tom Brady, the tuck rule wasn’t enacted, and the ball popped into the air and into the hands of cornerback Mike Bass, who ran it back for a touchdown, making a boring game slightly closer.
Ultimately irrelevant, as the Dolphins would hold on, you probably won’t see another play from this Super Bowl in your lifetime. Do Phins fans have a legitimate gripe that the 72′ team doesn’t get the respect they deserve? Probably, but Garo aint helping the cause.
Leon Lett was a defensive force during the Cowboys dynasty in the nineties, making two Pro Bowl rosters, and capturing three Super Bowl titles. Yet despite his success on the field, he’ll be best known for his blunder against Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the ‘Boys holding a commanding 52-17 lead, Lett recovered a fumble with room to run. The big man stumbled and rumbled his way to the Bills goal line, where he held the ball out in an effort to impersonate fellow Cowboys star Michael Irvin. But this bold move of early celebration was to be a costly mistake, as Buffalo speedster Don Beebe chased him down at the last possible second, slapping the ball loose and inducing a touchback as the ball rolled through the endzone.
While the play had little bearing on the outcome of the game, it has become an iconic football gaffe, overshadowing the defensive tackles impressive career.
Jackie Smith Drop Super Bowl XIII
When broadcaster Verne Lundquist famously quipped that Jackie Smith had to be “the sickest man in America”, he may have committed a bit of an overstatement. Then again, when the nearest defender is in the next state, you should catch the damn ball. Smith was an outstanding tight end throughout his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, appearing in five Pro Bowls. At the age of 38, he made his way to Dallas for a chance to win the big one he never came close to sniffing with the Cards.
These were your fathers Cowboys, commanded by legendary QB Roger Staubach and the vaunted Doomsday Defense that finished first in the league. The final hurdle to glory would be their nemesis of Super Bowl X, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with league MVP Terry Bradshaw at the helm, and the equally intimidating Steel Curtain.
The Steelers were dominant through the first half, but a Dallas rally sprung forth in the third quarter, culminating in a drive to the heart of Pittsburgh’s defense, where a touchdown would tie the game. Smith, now a reserve, found himself on the field and running free into the end zone. You couldn’t get more open than this, and Staubach tried to make it easy on the old timer, lofting a perfect pass oh so gently into the Orange Bowl’s sweet spot. But it was not to be, Smith’s legs buckled and he slipped backwards, the pass bouncing off his chest like greased watermelon. They would have to settle for a field goal, a bargain that would cost them dearly. In the 4th quarter both squads scored fourteen points, with that four point difference separating the two into eternity, Steelers 35 – Cowboys 31.
In a perfect world everyone would know Jackie Smith is now a member of the Hall of Fame, but in this world of blunders, it would be his final play on the field that hangs heaviest.
Scott Norwood Wide Right Super Bowl XXV
This was the first of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances for the Buffalo Bills, and amazing as it is, they somehow lost them all. Their best chance at victory came in the 1990 season, with the Gulf War making big headlines. The No Huddle Bills offense had Jim Kelly along with Andre Reed and Thurmon Thomas, steam rolling opponents and leading the leauge in scoring. They would be put to the test against Bill Parcells’ Giants club, that boasted a monstrous defense, and a time consuming possession oriented offense. They were opposites in these respects, dynamite vs cement.
Yet the Giants would hang with the high flying Bills, cutting into early deficits, and held a 20-19 point edge with 2:16 remaining on the clock. A methodical drive would follow, as the game culminated to a fever pitch. It would take a 47 yard field goal by reliable kicker Scott Norwood to deliver Buffalo into immortality. The Giants players looked away, praying for some divine intervention. The Bills sideline locked hands, sweating out the final seconds of an ultimately doomed season. Norwood had the distance, but not the aim, as the kick famously sailed wide right, and Bill Parcells won his second Super Bowl.
If Norwood had made that kick, would the subsequent Super Bowls had ended differently? Would we be talking of the Bills as a dynasty for the ages? Perhaps, but the first cut is always the deepest, and Buffalo is still reeling over this one.
Eugene Robinson Prostitution Scandal Super Bowl XXXIII
Before the big game, players get a full lecture about not indulging too much in the fanfare surrounding the event. Basically no excessive partying, trouble making, or drawing attention to yourself. Case in point: Eugene Robinson.
The safety had enjoyed a stellar career, winning a championship in Green Bay, and joining the previously hapless Falcons in the offseason. With Jamal Anderson getting down with the Dirty Bird, Chris Chandler having a career year, and the improved secondary play, Atlanta surged to Super Bowl XXXIII with wins over a Steve Young led 49ers club, and the infamous 98 Vikings (we won’t talk about it, GARY).
That all came to a screeching halt, when the day before the game, Robinson was arrested for trying to pick up a prostitute…who was actually an undercover cop…the day after receiving an award for high moral character from evangelical group Athletes in Action. While his teammates tried to rally around their humiliated amigo, their rationale that he was just unlucky, spoke volumes about the entire teams activities while in the Miami nightlife.
John Elway and the Broncos led a thrashing, due in no small part to the poor play of Robinson, who played tentatively and out of position. Dirty Birds indeed.
Barret Robbins/Bill Callahan/Oakland Raiders Meltdown Super Bowl XXXVII
Here’s a more recent fiasco that’s somehow still unfolding. The 2003 Oakland Raiders were a monster on the offensive side of the ball, led by late bloomer Rich Gannon, 2013 Hall of Fame nominee receiver Tim Brown, and former cross bay nemesis Jerry Rice. Coming into the matchup against the defensive stalwort Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which featured such beasts as Warren Sapp and John Lynch, the talk was all about the head coaches. John Gruden had fled Oakland via trade (that can apparently happen with coaches) and taken his talents to Tampa, and now the only thing holding him back from capturing a Super Bowl title was his past (Dun Dun Dun!).
That turned out to be one of the less scintillating aspects of the game however. Raiders Pro Bowl center, Barret Robbins, was a no-show for team practices and warmups in the days leading up to the game. When he finally did show up, he was so out of sorts, that head coach Bill Callahan left him off the roster. We now know that Robbins suffers from bipolar disorder, and had been off his meds partying in Tijuana, believing in his delusional state that the Raiders had already won the big game.
The game itself was a snoozer, with Tampa taking an early lead, and dominating throughout for a 48-21 victory. A large part of this was due to the fact that Oakland had maintained most of the same playbook and audibles that John Gruden had in fact installed during his tenure, giving the Buccaneer defense more than enough ammunition to get the job done. As of late, the conspiracy theorists are out, and Tim Brown is accusing Bill Callahan of throwing the game. I’m not sure if there’s any credence to this or not, but if your game plan is so terrible that your own players are questioning if you laid down, it’s not a good sign.