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.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).