From Namath to Norwood, dramatic moments enter Super Bowl lore

Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:14pm EST
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By Jahmal Corner

(Reuters) - From Joe Namath raising his finger toward the sky to David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch”, the Super Bowl is a history book of indelible moments that lead to next Sunday's 50th edition.

When the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos face off in Santa Clara, California, the suspense will be palpable. Will we see a historic performance? A thrilling finish? A controversial mishap?

The sport's biggest show has produced all of the above. Created as a deciding crown between the National Football League and American Football League champions, in 1967, Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers captured the first two played, earning a place in lore and the famous coach’s name on thetrophy.

But it was Namath, the New York Jets quarterback with movie star bravado and good looks, who catapulted the event forward in 1969 when he guaranteed his underdog Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts, and then delivered a 16-7 triumph. The image of Namath running off the field with one finger raised endures, and the magic of the Super Bowl only heightened when the AFL and NFL officially merged in 1970.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins cemented their status as the standard by which all teams are measured, when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII to cap a perfect 16-0 season.

The undefeated campaign is a distinction nearly matched by the 2007 New England Patriots, who entered Super Bowl XLII at 18-0 before the New York Giants upended them 17-14.

Giants wide receiver Tyree pinned a catch to his helmet on the deciding drive to seal the fate.

But every ending has not been a fairytale one. Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood’s name was made infamous when he missed a 47-yard field goal that gave the New York Giants a 20-19 triumph in Super Bowl XXV, one of the greatest ever played.   Continued...

General view of the exterior of Levi's Stadium prior to Super Bowl 50. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports