NFL

25 Biggest Super Bowl Choke Jobs In NFL History

Darren - February 10, 2022
NFL

25 Biggest Super Bowl Choke Jobs In NFL History

Darren - February 10, 2022

Mandatory Credit: Sportscasting

19. Jackie Smith (1979)

Smith was one of the greatest tight ends ever. But he was also responsible for one of the worst Super Bowl choke jobs ever. The future Hall of Famer played for his beloved Cowboys against the Steelers. Dallas trailed in the third quarter but suddenly Smith had a chance to change the gamer. Roger Staubach launched a perfect third-down pass to Smith in the end zone (via SportsTalk Florida).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

It should have been a touchdown but Smith somehow dropped the ball. He slid forward and it bounced off his chest. This was disastrous because the Cowboys were a score away from leveling the game. Instead, they scored a field goal but this wasn’t enough. The momentum shifted back in Pittsburgh’s favor. Finally, the Steelers won Super Bowl XIII 35-31.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

18. Green Bay Packers (1998)

Terrell Davis won acclaim for his performance in Super Bowl XXXII. The running back tore the Packers to shreds on the biggest stage. But this was a major setback for Green Bay. Denver came into this game as 11-point underdogs but belied their status. Instead, they left as champions for the first time in franchise history (via USA Today Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

John Elway outshone Brett Favre in the latter’s final Super Bowl appearance. Favre attempted a last-ditch fourth-down pass to Mark Chmura but it didn’t come off. Many analysts believe that this was one of the worst moments of his career. Favre should have won more than a single ring but suffered several postseason choke jobs. Elway enshrined his place in Broncos’ folklore.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

17. Rich Gannon (2003)

Gannon led the league’s top-ranked offense into Super Bowl XXXVII. He silenced many of his doubters after an excellent regular season. But it proved to be a flash in the pan. This remains one of the worst choke jobs ever from any sport because it was so bad. If he was a horse, his owner would have sent him to the factory to save him from the humiliation of his existence.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback threw a Super Bowl record five interceptions in the game. But to make matters worse, Tampa Bay returned three of them for touchdowns. Gannon described his display as a ‘nightmarish performance.’ It’s not a surprise that this haunts his dreams and legacy. He picked the worst time possible to have a meltdown (via Baltimore Sun).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

16. Denver Broncos (2014)

This wasn’t the day the Broncos dreamed of. It wasn’t a major shock that the Seahawks defeated them. However, the manner of the Broncos’ capitulation was appalling. They suffered one of the choke jobs of the decade as Seattle blew them out. The game finished 43-8 as Peyton Manning failed to deliver. It was all about the defense as linebacker Malcolm Turner won the game’s MVP award.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Manning also threw a pair of interceptions. One of these ended in a costly touchdown for the Seahawks. The Broncos expected more from the iconic NFL star. In the end, they waited another year before capturing that elusive ring. Denver didn’t even get on the scoreboard until the third quarter. But they were unable to mount a comeback (via Sky Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

15. New England Patriots (2012)

The New York Giants were the bane of Tom Brady’s existence. On paper, the franchise had no right to beat the superior Patriots’ team. However, they pulled off the unlikely on two occasions when it counted. The second came in Super Bowl XLVI in Indiana. This wasn’t as historical as their first achievement but it was still a great win (via ESPN).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Many people love to say that Eli Manning wasn’t a great quarterback. This is probably true but he did pick important times to overperform. Nobody can claim that he didn’t deliver in Super Bowls. After the Patriots brought the game back to 17-15, the Giants consolidated. This was a missed opportunity for New England because they had a superior roster.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

14. Patrick Mahomes (2021)

Mahomes is one of the most talented quarterbacks of his generation. The Kansas City Chiefs star won his first ring in 2020. It was a brilliant moment for the player and the franchise. That’s because it was their first Super Bowl wins in 50 years. They had a chance to defend their title against the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. However, this was a day of pain, as Tom Brady left Mahomes in the shade.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

The Bucs won 31-9 in a surprisingly easy victory. Todd Bowles and the rest of the Tampa Bay defense were excellent. They shut Mahomes down in a way nobody ever saw before. But Mahomes deserves criticism for one of the most disappointing choke jobs of recent history. It wasn’t that he made appalling mistakes but he wasn’t able to make a difference (via Fox Sports).

Mandatory Credit: AZCentral.com

13. St. Louis Rams (2002)

This was the end of an era but the beginning of a dynasty. Everybody favored the Rams to batter the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. This was before everybody hated New England. Yes, we know that’s unbelievable but it was the case. Fairytale isn’t often used these days when the Pats win. However, they shocked the Rams in this gripping game of football (via CNN).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

St. Louis were 14-point favorites before the game. However, they were unable to turn their dominance into points. Instead, the Patriots soared into a lead before the Rams came back. Finally, with the game tied at 17-17, Tom Brady took control. The young quarterback showed his talent as he brought Adam Vinatieri close enough for the winning field goal. St. Louis looks back on this as one of their big choke jobs.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

12. Indianapolis Colts (2010)

The New Orleans Saints hold Super Bowl XLIV in their hearts because it was their first NFL title win. Indy carried the favorites tag into the game but had one of the biggest choke jobs instead. Peyton Manning threw a key fourth-quarter interception that cost his team dearly. Meanwhile, Drew Brees won the Super Bowl MVP award for his excellent display (via N.Y. Times).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

In the end, the Colts endured a heavy 31-7 defeat. Their offense failed to fire and made costly mistakes. Brees completed a record-equalling 32 passes as his legend rose to a new level. It was disappointing for Manning’s fans because they wanted their hero to win another ring. Finally, he got his second ring, but not until after he moved to Denver.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

11. Neil O’Donnell (1996)

O’Donnell is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in NFL folklore. That’s because of a pair of costly interceptions in Super Bowl XXX. The Steelers had a great chance to beat the Cowboys. However, this was one of the most painful quarterback choke jobs in living memory. Larry Brown stole O’Donnell’s thunder because he picked the QB off twice.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

The interceptions were bizarre because they were so aimless. One of them went directly to Brown despite no receivers being in the zone of play. Many analysts criticized O’Donnell after the game. If this happened in the regular season, nobody would remember it. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl is a different story. Perhaps the pressure overcame him or he was just unlucky (via Irish Times).

Mandatory Credit: N.Y. Daily News

10. Dallas Cowboys (1971)

John Mackey scored a controversial and possibly illegal touchdown in this game. It came from a Johnny Unitas pass and also gave the Cowboys something to complain about. However, for all of their excuses, Dallas was sloppy and ineffective. Jim O’Brien kicked the winning field goal with five seconds left to play. In truth, the Colts earned the win.

Mandatory Credit: AP

Dallas held a 13-6 lead at halftime but had one of the worst choke jobs in their history. A pair of interceptions proved crucial as both set up Baltimore scores. Tom Landry admitted that the Cowboys were their own worst enemy. This went down as one of the least-entertaining Super Bowl games ever because both teams were sloppy (via N.Y. Times).

Mandatory Credit: AP News

9. Cincinnati Bengals (1988)

Football is a cruel sport as the Bengals discovered in this game. It may seem harsh to call this one of the biggest choke jobs in history. That’s a fair point because the 49ers had Joe Montana as their starting quarterback. However, given the context of the Bengals’ next 30 years, they wasted the chance to become iconic. Instead, they missed their only shot at the title.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

It was an intriguing match-up because Boomer Esiason was in the best form of his life. This was a tight game and the Bengals led 16-13 with three minutes ticking away. However, they were unable to hold on as Joe Montana led his team downfield. The result was inevitable. Within a couple of years, Cincinnati was in severe decline. Finally, in 2022, they appeared in a Super Bowl again (via Mercury News).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

8. New England Patriots (2008)

The Patriots have lost a couple Super Bowls under Bill Belichick. However, this one hurts the most because they came so close to completing a perfect season. Including the playoffs, they entered the game with an undefeated 18-0 record. There was a chance to go completely unbeaten against the New York Giants. Most people hated the Pats but believed the result was inevitable.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

However, Eli Manning and his teammate had something to say about that. If any result haunts Tom Brady and Belichick it’s this one because it shouldn’t have happened. Plaxico Burress scored a late touchdown before a Brady sack sealed the deal. The Patriots won so many accolades throughout that season but it felt like they meant nothing after this (via Boston Globe).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

7. Seattle Seahawks (2015)

Pete Carroll says that statistically, Seattle made the right call in XLIX. However, this doesn’t change one fact. Marshawn Lynch was just four yards from the endzone. Instead, Russell Wilson attempted to find Ricardo Lockette. But the Patriots blocked him and rookie Malcolm Turner intercepted the ball. Wilson’s dream of a second Super Bowl ring instantly died (via Sports Illustrated).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Some say that Lynch had a poor record from similar positions throughout the regular season. However, a lot of critics maintain that the offensive coaches delivered one of the worst choke jobs ever. They say that this was a time to be brave and go for the kill. In the end, the Patriots gleefully ruined Seattle’s dream. They haven’t returned to a Super Bowl since.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

6. John Kasay (2004)

For several minutes, Kasay was a Carolina hero. The Panthers made their first Super Bowl appearance against the Patriots. This went down as one of the most dramatic games ever. However, it’s a painful memory for Kasay. After an intense and even contest, Kasay kicked the teams level with a minute left. But he didn’t have much time to enjoy the adulation (via 247 Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Next, Kasay had kickoff duties to attend to. But then the nightmare struck. He sent the ball out of bounds. This incurred an illegal procedure penalty. The scheming Patriots were able to bring the ball back downfield. Finally, Adam Vinatieri scored the winning field goal. It was a horrible moment for Kasay’s legacy because his mistake killed their dreams.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

5. New England Patriots (1985)

The Chicago Bears ran through the Patriots like a knife through butter in Super Bowl 20. It was a nightmarish result for New England but potentially avoidable. Firstly, Raymond Berry made the controversial decision to start Tony Eason. This left veteran Steve Grogan as his backup. However, this was a terrible choice because Eason went 0-for-6 before Berry pulled him.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Meanwhile, the Bears ran rampant. Grogan suffered four sacks after entering the field of play. The Patriots also turned the ball over six times as they delivered one of the worst choke jobs ever. Finally, the game mercifully ended and Chicago won 46-10. This was all the more surprising because the Pats were excellent before this. They won all of their previous playoff games on the road (via SBNation).

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

4. Eugene Robinson (1999)

Robinson was one of the Falcons’ most important players. They knew that they required him to be at his best if they hoped to win the Super Bowl. At the time, he was the NFL’s active career interception leader. However, things became murky when the Miami police intercepted him. Robinson solicited an undercover police officer because he believed she was a prostitute.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

Unfortunately for Robinson and his team, this wasn’t the case. He enjoyed the precinct’s hospitality until 4 am before they finally released him. The Falcons made the fatal decision to start him the next day. However, Robinson wasn’t at his best after an exhausting night. He was also culpable for an 80-yard Terrell Robinson touchdown (via AP News).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Philadelphia Eagles (2005)

The Eagles played the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. Their offense included quarterback Donavon McNabb as well as the mercurial Terrell Owens. There was no doubting the latter’s talent but he had a volatile relationship with QBs. This was a bad day for head coach Andy Reid because two of his most important players let him down. The Eagles played hard but didn’t have enough to win.

Mandatory Credit: NBC Sports

McNabb threw some key interceptions but later blamed Terrell for being out of position. Meanwhile, Terrell claimed that McNabb vomited on the field because he was hungover. It was a mess but at least Reid received redemption when he won a ring with the Chiefs almost two decades later. Unfortunately, McNabb never lived this down but it wasn’t entirely his fault (via Bleacher Report).

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

2. Scott Norwood (1991)

Norwood’s miss continues to haunt his dreams. The Bills placekicker displayed outstanding consistency throughout the regular season. He had the opportunity to become an instant Buffalo icon. 47-yards stood between him and a Super Bowl ring. Instead, he sealed immortality but not for the reason he wanted. He kicked the ball ‘wide-right’ and the Bills lost the game (via Yahoo).

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

Some believe it’s unfair to call this one of the biggest choke-jobs ever. But Norwood had one job. His only task was to kick the ball between the posts. This wasn’t even the most challenging distance. However, this was the Super Bowl and the pressure was too much. Instead, the Giants won the ultimate prize.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

1. Atlanta Falcons (2019)

In 2017, the Falcons performed one of the worst choke-jobs ever. They led the Patriots in Super Bowl LI by a score of 28-3. This 25-point lead haunts the dreams of Dan Quinn because they should have won. Furthermore, the aforementioned Kyle Shanahan was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. He took a lot of heat because they went into meltdown (via FOX Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Many casual Super Bowl followers stopped watching because it appeared to be over at halftime. The Patriots were about to suffer a blowout before they came storming back. They sent the game to overtime and an ice-cold Tom Brady sealed victory for his team. It sealed his status as the greatest ever but it was also a major humiliation. After this loss, Atlanta went into a freefall and have not gotten out since.

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