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The biggest gaffes in Super Bowl history

The Super Bowl is known for greatness. But it has an infamous side too.

Here are the five most infamous gaffes in Super Bowl history.

1. The kick

The Bills were supposed to win Super Bowl XXV handily behind one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. But few took into account the brilliant defensive game plan drawn up by a then-hotshot young Giants defensive coordinator by the name of Bill Belichick.

What was supposed to be a game of Buffalo offensive fireworks ended up being a defensive slugfest, one the Giants led 20-19 late in the fourth quarter. The Bills, though, drove all the way to the Giants 29-yard line in the closing seconds, then handed things over to kicker Scott Norwood for what appeared to be a game-winning, 47-yard field goal.

Instead, Norwood pushed the kick wide right of the goalposts to gift-wrap the Giants the Super Bowl. It was the first of four straight Super Bowl losses for the Bills.

2. The interception

People forget the miracle play that had the Seahawks even in a position to choke away Super Bowl XLIX in such epic fashion. But a 33-yard heave from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse that Kearse somehow, someway held onto gave Seattle the ball deep in Patriots territory.

Trailing 28-24, the Seahawks moved to the New England 1-yard-line within one play and were at the doorstep of their second Super Bowl title. Then disaster struck.

Seattle opted to throw a pass rather than hand it to Marshawn Lynch. Wilson’s pass was picked off by Malcolm Butler to drive a stake in the heart of the Seahawks and give the Patriots yet another Super Bowl title.

3. The kicker who couldn’t

Spoiler alert. The gaffe by Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian did not cost Miami Super Bowl VII. In fact, the Dolphins dominated Washington from start to finish to complete the only perfect season in NFL history. To this day, Miami’s 17-0 record is the benchmark for every would-be NFL giant to surpass.

Yepremian is off the hook in that sense.

But when it comes to plays that live in sports infamy, his belly-laugh handling of a blocked field goal attempt remains one of the sport’s funniest plays.

Leading 14-0 in the closing minutes, Yepremian’s field goal attempt to make it 17-0 was blocked. As the ball bounced toward Yepremian, he had a choice to fall on it or, well, that should have been the end of the discussion.

Instead, he picked up the ball and tried to throw it. But the ball fell from his hands. Yepremian then tried to bat the ball away. It was an awkward attempt at best, and the ball ended up in the hands of Washington’s Mike Bass who ran it the opposite way for a touchdown to make it 14-7.

Thankfully for Yepremian, the Dolphins held on to win the game.

4. The drop

This is a heartbreaker to be sure. Jackie Smith wasn’t just one of the best tight ends in the NFL, he was one of the league’s great gentlemen. But that didn’t save him from one of the greatest gaffes in Super Bowl history.

Trailing by seven points against the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII, the Cowboys marched into scoring territory and were threatening to tie the game. That almost seemed like a given when Roger Staubach threw a perfect pass to a wide-open Smith in the end zone.

Only Smith seemed to stumble a bit as he went to catch the ball and inexplicably let it bounce off his hands for an incompletion. Rather than tie the game, the Cowboys kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to four points. They ended up losing the game by, you guessed it, four points.

5. The safety

Not only was the first offensive play of Super Bowl XLVIII one of the biggest mistakes in championship game history, but it would also end up setting the tone for one of the most lopsided losses in the history of the game.

Operating near his own goal line, Peyton Manning took his normal stance in the shotgun behind his center. As he scanned the field and barked out play instructions, his center snapped the ball.

Not only was it a premature snap, it was wildly inaccurate and sailed over Manning’s head. Then it took a horrible bounce all the way out of the back of the end zone.

Within seconds, Seattle led 2-0. It set the stage for their 43-8 win over the Broncos.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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