Super Bowl Screwups: The Big Game’s Most Unforgettable Mistakes

Darren - February 8, 2023

Super Bowl Screwups: The Big Game’s Most Unforgettable Mistakes

Darren - February 8, 2023

The Super Bowl is the highlight of every NFL fan’s year. It’s the time of year to eat their weight in chicken wings while watching grown men run into each other for a ring. Football players dream of lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Indeed, several legendary football players have put their bodies on the line for long-lasting glory. However, there are also many Super Bowl mistakes that fans will never forget.

So today we’ll look at some of these notorious moments and reflect on how they affected the NFL’s biggest stage. Some of them handed victories to the opposing team. Meanwhile, there are also a bunch of mistakes that happened off the field or even during the half-time show. Check out all the biggest Super Bowl mistakes of all time below.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl XL

Many people still believe that the fix was in at Super Bowl XL because there we so many horrible, egregious referee errors. The Seahawks played the Steelers in their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. They dreamed of bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the West Coast. In the end, however, it was a complete and utter nightmare because everything went against them.

Super Bowl XL

They experienced everything from phantom flags to imaginary touchdowns. Meanwhile, the NFL’s Head of Officiating went on vacation to Costa Rica and remained out of touch. It was a major scandal at the time and affected the fans’ faith in the game. This was also demoralizing for the athletes because they gave everything they had all year (via Bleacher Report).


Barrett Robbins’ Meltdown

It’s not entirely accurate to describe this as a mistake but a horrible sequence of events changed Robbins’ life. The Pro Bowl center played a crucial role in inspiring the Raiders to the Super Bowl against Tampa. However, Robbins disappeared during the night before the big game and nobody knew where he went.


Robbins experienced a savage bout of depression and didn’t call his family. Instead, he went on a drinking spree with people who didn’t care about his best interests. He went on a downward spiral as he cavorted with prostitutes and wept for his wife. In the end, he spent the game in the hospital (via NBC Sports).

Carolina Panthers

John Kasey’s Kickoff

Kasey had one job in Super Bowl XXXVIII but failed to execute the plan. Instead of keeping the Panthers in the game with his final kick of the game, he gave the win to the Patriots. It was an agonizing moment for the franchise after they fought back to tie the game. Then Kasey ruined everything by kicking the ball back to New England at their 40-yard line.

Tampa Bay Times

Then Tom Brady did what he does best and made the Panthers pay a high price. It was an unfortunate moment for Kasey and his team because they threw the result away. It also blemished his legacy because now everybody thinks about the time he choked on the biggest stage. Sadly, it’s one of the worst Super Bowl mistakes ever and he has to live with that (via Tampa Bay Times).

New York Times

Bruce Springsteen’s Crotch

The Boss played the halftime show at Super Bowl XLII in Tampa Bay in 2009. This delighted the famously prudish executives because he has a massive name and is also family-friendly. Everything was going swimmingly for Springsteen and the E Street Band before he power-slid into a camera.


That’s right, Springsteen went crotch-first into a camera in front of the world. Luckily, he saw the funny side as he picked himself up and carried on like a professional. But it was one of the funniest Super Bowl mistakes ever because it came out of nowhere. There’s always something some kind of drama involving the halftime show (via Tampa Bay).

L.A. Times

Donovan McNabb

Andy Reid is a legendary coach and a future Hall of Famer but this wasn’t his finest moment. He guided the Eagles to a Super Bowl clash against the Patriots. But he made a costly error that meant Philadelphia went home empty-handed. McNabb suffered an illness during the week leading to the Super Bowl but started the match.

Lehigh Valley Live

It was fine until the fourth quarter when suddenly the Eagles slowed down. The Patriots led by 10 points but Philly showed no urgency or desire. They spent more time huddling than trying to score touchdowns. McNabb allegedly vomited in one of them but Reid left him on the field regardless (via N.Y. Post).

Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl XLV Seats

This was a very embarrassing moment for the NFL but it taught them a lesson. Cowboys Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLV between the Steelers and the Packers. Everybody knows that tickets are rarer than gold and cost more. It’s a dream for most people to attend the prestigious event.

Sports Illustrated

400 fans received a massive shock when security denied them access to the venue. That’s because the stadium didn’t finish adding seats to increase its capacity. It was a massive shambles and they sued the NFL for its lack of foresight. In the end, they received the cost of the tickets multiple times over (via Bleacher Report).

Sports Illustrated

Newton’s Second Fumble

The Panthers had one of the best offenses in the league throughout 2015 when they reached Super Bowl 50. Meanwhile, Denver’s defense led them to the showpiece event so it was a fascinating clash on paper. In the end, the Broncos pulled off the victory as Peyton Manning retired with a second ring. But it was a lost opportunity for the Panthers and Cam Newton.

Sporting News

Newton entered the game as the new regular season MVP after an electric season. However, he made a couple of big errors in this clash. Two fumbles cost his team dearly and gave Denver momentum. The second was one of the biggest Super Bowl mistakes ever because Denver immediately scored a touchdown (via Colorado Public Radio).


Eugene Robinson

Robinson was one of the Falcons’ most important players as they went on a Super Bowl run in 1998. The safety decided to settle his nerves before the big game and went for a wander around Miami. He decided to find some paid female company to reduce his tension and propositioned a random streetwalker (via AP News).

Sports Illustrated

But it emerged that the hooker was an undercover policewoman. Robinson’s status as one of the NFL’s best players didn’t impress her and she booked him. He spent the night in jail and didn’t enjoy much sleep. Atlanta still started him the next day but it was one of the biggest Super Bowl mistakes ever because he was garbage.

Sky Sports

Britt Reid

Andy Reid’s son wreaked havoc in early 2021 before the Super Bowl game against the Bucs. The linebackers coach made the fatal decision to drink and drive in the week before the final. He crashed his car into some other vehicles and left a little girl with traumatic brain injuries. These would affect her for the rest of her life and it was Reid’s fault.


We’re not going to pretend that Reid’s absence cost the Chiefs a Super Bowl. However, it may have affected his father’s clarity and left a bad taste around the camp. It wasn’t the media attention that the team wanted before the big game. In the end, the Bucs demolished them and Tom Brady won his seventh ring (via Sky Sports).

Lehigh Valley Live

Hank Baskett’s Drop

The Saints played the Colts in Super Bowl XLV but fell behind before halftime. Head coach Sean Payton knew that he needed to take some risks to save the game. He called for an onside kick and the cheeky play caught Indy by surprise. It was also a horrible moment for Baskett because it tarnished his career (via Huff Post).


It was one of the worst Super Bowl mistakes ever because Baskett fumbled a simple catch. Then the Saints recovered the ball and this changed the momentum of the game. This wasn’t as eye-catching as a pick-six but it was a crucial moment that shifted the tide in New Orlean’s favor. In the end, they lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy on an emotional day.

Bleacher Report

Beyonce’s Blackout

Some of the weirdest Super Bowl mistakes came during halftime shows. In 2013, the Ravens faced the Niners in the ‘Harbowl.’ This game saw two brothers face each other as coaches for the first time. John Harbaugh’s Baltimore defeated Jim’s San Francisco in a close victory (via NBC Sports).

Vanity Fair

One of the other major talking points was a power outage during the halftime show. Beyonce reunited with Destiny’s Child for an anticipated performance. Perhaps Queen Bey had too much energy because the Super Dome failed to handle it. Fans sat in darkness for over 30 minutes before the lights returned.


Samuel’s Missed Interception

The Giants stunned the Patriots and the rest of the NFL world in 2008. This was one of the biggest upsets in history because New England had a perfect regular season record. Most analysts predicted that the Giants would struggle to make the postseason after Tiki Barber’s retirement. But they belied expectations and fought their way to immortality (via Sports Illustrated).


Everybody knows about the ‘Helmet Catch’ but it should never have happened. In the previous play, Eli Manning misplaced a pass and the ball drifted toward Asante Samuel. But the Patriots’ star inexplicably fumbled an easy catch. It was one of the worst Super Bowl mistakes ever because David Tyree’s iconic moment came immediately after.

Sports Illustrated

Miami’s Blown Field Goal

Don Shula’s Dolphins went 17-0 in 1972 as they shattered records. However, they made one of the dumbest Super Bowl mistakes ever that almost cost them their legacy. Everything was going smoothly against the Redskins. They stormed into a 14-0 lead before Garo Yepremian entered to kick a field goal (via CBS Sports).

CBS Sports

But Washington blocked the kick and the ball spiraled back toward Yepremian. In a moment of madness, he opted to try and pass the ball instead of flopping on top of it. The Redskins cornerback picked him off and rushed for a touchdown. Suddenly, they forced Miami to sweat for their victory when it should have been easy.

Sky Sports

Manning’s Pick-Six

Peyton Manning is arguably the greatest regular-season quarterback ever. However, he arguably underachieved in the playoffs despite winning two Super Bowl rings. He had a golden opportunity to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2010. The favored Colts played the Saints but Manning had a bad game.

Indianapolis Colts

He threw a terrible pick-six that allowed the Saints to open up a lead. Tracy Porter claimed the ball before he rushed for a touchdown. Porter also blazed through Manning on the way to the endzone. The hapless quarterback was incapable of stopping him from rushing forward after his mistake (via USA Today Sports).


Jackie Smith’s Drop

Some moments define an entire Super Bowl and this was one of them. Smith had a golden opportunity to send Dallas into a dominant lead. But he wasted this incredible chance and left the stadium speechless. Roger Staubach threw a beautiful pass to Smith in the end zone. Everybody rose to their feet to celebrate but disaster struck.

Sporting News

Smith dropped the ball and broke the Cowboys’ hearts in the process. There’s nothing more to say about it because it’s that simple. Smith became the sickest man in America after one of the worst Super Bowl mistakes ever. Finally, the Steelers claimed victory because it was a game of small margins (via Sports Illustrated).

Fox 13

The Raiders’ Signals

The Raiders have made some horrible coaching decisions over the past couple of decades. Jon Gruden did a decent job during his first spell with the franchise. This attracted the attention of the Buccaneers and they lured him to Florida. Al Davis didn’t fight him and held out for several high draft picks (via NFL.com).

Bleacher Report

Naturally, the two teams met in the Super Bowl but the Raiders handed the initiative to Tampa. Nobody knows why Oakland’s new coach, Bill Callahan, didn’t change all of their signals. This meant that Gruden knew what was happening and the Bucs destroyed Rich Gannon. The usually-reliable Gannon threw a ridiculous five interceptions.

Fox Sports

Leon Lett’s Fumble

Lett had a couple of high-profile gaffes throughout his career but this was the worst. That’s because it’s one of the most embarrassing Super Bowl mistakes ever. The former Cowboys star lined up against the Buffalo Bills on a glorious day for ‘America’s Team.’ Lett saw his name in the lights after he recovered a fumble and charged downfield.


It appeared that a touchdown was inevitable and he extended the ball forward in celebration. But he remained outside the endzone and wasn’t mindful of his surroundings as he showboated. Don Beebe snuck up behind him and knocked the ball out of his hand. It was very embarrassing for Lett but luckily didn’t affect the game’s outcome (via FOX Sports).


Madonna and M.I.A.

Pop icon Madonna led the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012. The performance also featured cameos from Nicki Minaj and British rapper, M.I.A. Everything was going fine until M.I.A. made one of the worst Super Bowl mistakes ever. As the camera focused on her, she raised her middle finger in a defiant gesture (via NME).


Then the NFL attempted to sue her for $1.5 million because she breached her contract. Later, they added another $14 million to their ridiculous claim. M.I.A. underestimated NFL conservatism but she paid a price. In the end, her label settled with the organization. But it could have been worse because they wanted 100% of her earnings over two million dollars.

Elite Sports N.Y.

The Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta’s astonishing collapse in 2017 remains one of the most notorious games ever. Some people may think that it’s difficult to point to one error but that’s not true. They played well for three quarters and led 21-3 at halftime. But Kyle Shanahan’s playcalling was ludicrous and gave the Patriots the momentum.

Rolling Stone

He failed to change to a running game and insisted on passing the ball. Eventually, the Falcons ran out of gas and this allowed the Patriots to make a ridiculous comeback. In the end, it was a terrible mistake that haunted the franchise for years. It also signaled the beginning of the end for Dan Quinn in Georgia (via Sporting News).

Bleacher Report

Wide Right

The Buffalo Bills managed to lose four straight Super Bowls in the most nightmarish run ever. There were some horrible moments throughout this period but the worst came at Super Bowl XXV. Scott Norwood had the chance to be a hero and bring that elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy home to upstate New York.

Sporting News

47 yards stood between Norwood and immortality. But somehow, the kicker missed the golden opportunity and gave the game to the Giants. This was a nightmare for Norwood and his team because the win was within reach. It also left everybody in disbelief from the fans to TV commentators (via Bleacher Report).


Krumrie’s Broken Leg

It may seem strange to call Tim Krumrie’s broken leg a mistake. But it belongs on this list because nobody tackled him. The Bengals played the 49ers and hoped to break their Super Bowl dry spell. In the end, Joe Montana and his team were simply better. However, it didn’t help that Krumrie exited the game with a brutal injury.


The nose tackle awkwardly placed his foot on the ground and it twisted underneath him. TV viewers witnessed a horrifyingly graphic injury as it turned and snapped. Krumrie broke multiple bones in his leg and required a titanium implant. Luckily, he recovered and made a successful NFL comeback (via SBNation).


Holding or Not Holding?

The Bengals went on an unexpected run to the Super Bowl in 2022 after a great 2021 season. Joe Burrow’s brilliance inspired them to the final against the L.A. Rams. This was a clash of two very different approaches because the Rams spent a fortune on their team. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s roster was full of young but exciting stars.

L.A. Times

However, the referees made a couple of bad mistakes in this one. The Rams scored early after they wrongly cited the Bengals for pulling back an L.A. player. Later, they canceled their mistake when they ignored Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins blatantly grabbing the face mask of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. It was a poor day for the officials but ultimately a great one for the Rams (via Fansided).


Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe

It says a lot about Super Bowl XXXVIII that the most notorious aspect was Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. She accidentally flashed the world for half a second after Justin Timberlake’s blunder. This was a major scandal at the time and CBS Sports received thousands of complaints (via EW).

New York Times

This moment impacted Jackson’s career for years and remains a key part of her legacy. It’s unfortunate because she deserves more respect but she can’t change the past. This incident also instigated many debates about censorship in the U.S. In the end, there was an overreaction and it shouldn’t have dominated the news for so long.

Sports Illustrated

Wallace’s Broken Ankle

Incredibly, two notorious Super Bowl injuries occurred in the same game. We spoke about Tim Krumrie’s broken leg but the Niners also lost a player that day. Their left tackle, Steve Wallace only lasted for three plays before a devastating moment took him out. Joe Montana accidentally crashed into him in one of the most painful Super Bowl mistakes ever.

NBC Sports

The quarterback’s momentum carried him into Wallace and he went down awkwardly. Unfortunately, it shattered his ankle and meant that he faced months on the sidelines. Wallace had a brilliant career and won three rings. He also played a crucial role in helping Montana become an elite star (via 49ers.com).


Russell Wilson’s Pass

It appeared that destiny was on the Seahawks’ side when they faced the Patriots in Super XLIX. New England led late in the game but Seattle had a golden opportunity to steal the win. Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse combined in style to lead the team to the one-yard line. Marshawn Lynch licked his lips in anticipation of scoring the game-winning touchdown but the running back never saw the ball.

The Columbian

That’s because Pete Carroll instructed Wilson to throw an ill-advised pass instead of offloading to Lynch. Malcolm Butler became the unlikely hero when he intercepted the loose ball and sealed the win for the Patriots. Everybody thought that Seattle’s name was on the trophy but instead it became one of the worst Super Bowl mistakes ever (via Boston.com).