Top five Super Bowl mistakes of all-time

As we approach Super Bowl LIII, our team has been sharing some of the greatest Super Bowl moments of all-time. Well, instead of looking at some more great moments in Super Bowl history, today we’re going to look at the top five Super Bowl mistakes of all-time. These are plays, or sequence of plays, are some of the most iconic moments in Super Bowl history, but for all the wrong reasons.

Top five Super Bowl mistakes
0 Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

Top five Super Bowl mistakes

5. Leon Lett celebrates too early

Despite playing in a game with a score of 52-17 in favor of his team at the time of this mistake, Leon Lett’s mistake in Super Bowl XXVII will always be remembered. Bills QB Frank Reich drops back to pass, but is then nailed by a Cowboys defender and fumbles the ball. Leon Lett picks up the ball and starts running toward the end zone. It appears Lett is going to make an easy score. At least that’s what he thought….

Leon Lett is almost to the end zone when he starts celebrating by sticking the ball out. Don Beebe, who doesn’t give up on the play, comes up behind Lett after chasing him down and knocks the ball out of Lett’s hand. Instead of being a TD for the Cowboys, it was a ruled a touchback. Lett is lucky this play didn’t have any impact on the outcome of Super Bowl XXVII. If it had, this mistake would definitely rank higher on the list of top five Super Bowl mistakes.


4. Jackie Smith drops easy TD

In the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, the Dallas Cowboys trailed the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-14. The Cowboys then drove down the field into scoring position. QB Roger Staubach found his TE Jackie Smith wide open in the end zone. The score was about to be all tied up. As the ball is about to land in Smith’s hands, he starts to slide. The ball bounced off his chest and was incomplete. Instead of scoring a game tying TD on what should have been the easiest catch ever, the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal to make the score 21-17. They went on to lose 35-31, by the amount of points they lost due to Jackie Smith’s famous drop. Jackie Smith is a Hall of Famer, but he also holds one of the top five Super Bowl mistakes in history.


3. Scott Norwood kicks it wide right

With 2:10 left in Super Bowl XXV, the Buffalo Bills were down 20-19 with the ball at their own 10. They were able to drive all the way down to the Giants’ 30 with eight seconds left on the clock. What happened next has to be the most disappointing moment in Bills history. K Scott Norwood came out to kick the game winning FG. The ball was snapped and Norwood kicks the ball. He pushed it wide right, giving the Giants the Super Bowl win.

We’ve seen a lot of missed kicks over the years, but none of them as bad as this one. To make the missed kick even worse, the Bills could have opted for a short play to get the ball out of bounds to move the kick a little closer. Instead of doing so, the Bills handed Norwood a 47-yard kick that obviously didn’t go too well. This missed kick started the Bills’ streak of losing four straight Super Bowls.


2. Falcons allow huge comeback

This top five Super Bowl mistake isn’t just a play. Rather, it took place over the sequence of two quarters. Going into halftime of Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons had built a 21-3 lead on the New England Patriots. Falcons fans had to be feeling pretty good about things. To make things even better, the Falcons went up 28-3 with about 8:31 left in the third quarter. At this point, Falcons fans had to be sitting back, relaxing and thinking, “We’ve got this in the bag.” Not so fast.

With 2:06 left in the third quarter, the Patriots made the score 28-9. The Falcons were still up three TDs heading into the fourth quarter, which you would think is a sure fire victory. Well, the Patriots made the score 28-12 with 9:44 left, 28-20 with 5:56 left and 28-28 with 0:57 left. How were they able to do this? The Atlanta Falcons got nothing going on offense after their third quarter TD.

All the Falcons had to do was keep the clock moving by running the ball. Run the ball, move the chains and keep the clock ticking. They failed to do that, allowing the Patriots to come back and send the game to OT. We all know what happened next. The Falcons’ offense didn’t the see the ball in OT because the Patriots drove all the way down the field. That’s when RB James White ran the ball in from two yards out for the game winning TD.


1. Seattle’s INT at the 1-yard line

With 26 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX, everything looked perfect for the Seattle Seahawks to beat the New England Patriots. Just a couple plays before this iconic mistake, QB Russell Wilson had completed a pass to WR Jermaine Kearse, who made arguably one of the greatest catches of all-time. Everything looked perfect for the Seahawks to win their second Super Bowl in two years. Then the worst play call ever happened.

It was 2nd and goal with 26 seconds left. Russell Wilson makes a quick pass to Kearse on a slant, but Patriots CB Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass just outside of the end zone. Why on earth would the Seahawks pass the ball at the 1-yard line with RB Marshawn Lynch in the backfield? To make this even worse, it’s not like it was 4th down. It was 2nd and goal! The Seahawks had 26 seconds and one time out left at the 1-yard line with three downs to get in the end zone.

Instead of a pass, the Seahawks should have given the ball to Marshawn Lynch three straight times if that’s what it took. If he didn’t get in on 2nd down, they could have either stopped the clock or got back to the line for a quick snap. If he didn’t get in on 3rd down, they could have done the same thing. Had it been 4th and goal and they had tried to run it in on the previous two plays, a pass play wouldn’t have been as bad. That’s the thing though, they had three chances to run it in with one of the most powerful RBs in the NFL. Big mistake by Seattle in their Super Bowl XLIX loss.


For the sake of the Patriots and Rams, hopefully we don’t see any major mistakes that will go down in history as one of the top five Super Bowl mistakes of all-time.

Didn’t see your favorite mistake on our list of the top five Super Bowl mistakes of all-time? Comment below and let us know which great Super Bowl mistake we missed!


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