The Super Bowl is the height of NFL competition, with the two best teams in the league squaring off for not just a championship, but to solidify their legacies.

 

And, with so much on the line, players are known to step their games up and deliver when it matters most.

These individual performances in particular were some of the most memorable in the history of American football's biggest game, with crazy comebacks and unbelievable plays going down in history.

David Tyree (Super Bowl XLII)

The New York Giants came into Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots as the seventh biggest point spread underdog in the history of Super Bowl betting odds.

But they managed to pull off an iconic upset, thanks to some incredible defence and the efforts of David Tyree.

Tyree, an unheralded wide receiver, hadn't accomplished much in his career before or after this game, but made one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history to keep the Giants alive in their final drive.

Being guarded by Rodney Harrison, one of the best safeties in that era, Tyree chased down an aerial ball from quarterback Eli Manning.

Being draped by Harrison, Tyree leapt for the ball and pinned it to his helmet while Harrison unsuccessfully tried to pry the ball loose.

Tyree held onto the ball, got his team a much-needed chunk of yardage, and helped the Giants move the ball into the end zone for the game-winning score.

Tyree's career fizzled out from there, but he will always be remembered for one of the best plays of all-time.

 

Nick Foles (Super Bowl LII)

There have been a ton of unheralded quarterbacks who have done just enough to win Super Bowls.

Brad Johnson didn't do much beyond filling the position while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders. Trent Dilfer more or less just stood there while the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants with their defence and running game.

And many thought that Nick Foles would be a similar case, before he went into Super Bowl LII and outplayed one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

Brady threw for 505 yards in that game with three touchdowns of his own. But, the Eagles were able to force a late fumble from Brady, giving the Eagles their first ever Super Bowl.

Dubbed Saint Nick by Philadelphia sports fans, Foles completed over 65% of his passes in all three of the Eagles' postseason games for the playoffs, and joins Eli Manning on the list of the only quarterbacks to beat Tom Brady in a Super Bowl.

 

Tom Brady (Super Bowl LI)

Despite losing to Nick Foles in the following year, Tom Brady put together one of the legendary Super Bowl performances in Super Bowl LI.

He led the biggest comeback in the history of the Super Bowl, when he led the Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons to win his fifth Super Bowl. The result was only the only win in the history of the Super Bowl to have gone to overtime.

After throwing a pick-six in the second quarter, Brady led the Patriots down the field for a field goal with seconds remaining in the first half.

He came out in the second half and reeled off 25 points in the third and fourth quarters, including a 19-point fourth quarter that included two successful two-point conversions.

In overtime, against an exhausted Falcons defence, Brady led the Patriots down the field one last time, setting up a James White touchdown run for the title.

Brady threw the ball 62 times in the game, with the Patriots forced to take to the air while trailing. He completed 43 of those passes, for 466 yards, with very little margin for error in the final three quarters of the game.

Those pass attempt and completion statistics are both Super Bowl records, with the Falcons sure to never forget folding at the hands of Brady on that stage.

 

Devin Hester (Super Bowl XLI)

Super Bowl XLI was one of the great quarterback mismatches in the history of the Super Bowl, with Peyton Manning leading the Indianapolis Colts into battle against Rex Grossman of the Chicago Bears.

The reason Grossman was able to get to a Super Bowl in the first place was their incredible defence and special teams units, with Devin Hester being one of their stars.

And Hester lived up to expectations when he took the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl back for a touchdown, giving the Bears an early lead.

Hester is the most prolific returner in the history of the NFL, bringing 19 combined kicks and punts back for touchdowns in his career.

This score was surely the most memorable of those 19, though, as Hester caught the opening kickoff in a rain-soaked Miami and evaded everyone on the field en route to a famous touchdown.

The Bears only scored 10 points for the rest of the game, but the only opening kickoff return for a touchdown in the history of the Super Bowl is the play everyone remembers from this clash.

 

Malcolm Butler (Super Bowl XLIX)

Super Bowl XLIX got off to a slow start with a scoreless first quarter, but picked up with an electric second half that saw both teams trade punches all the way to the final whistle.

And the final blow was landed by Malcolm Butler, who went from being a relatively unknown defensive player to a star thanks to one decisive play to bring the New England Patriots a championship.

Leading 28-24 in the game's final minutes, the Seahawks executed a drive down to the one-yard line. With star running back Marshawn Lynch on the team, it was expected that Seattle would run the ball and win the game.

But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and his staff elected to throw a slant route at the goal line, with Malcolm Butler beating Russell Wilson's pass to the spot, stealing the Super Bowl then and there.

Butler made headlines in another Patriots Super Bowl when he was benched against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. But he will always be remembered for his moment of individual brilliance.

 

Phil Simms (Super Bowl XXI)

Phil Simms is known to younger football fans as a broadcaster, but he holds the record for the highest passer rating in a Super Bowl, as he led the New York Giants to a 39-20 win over the Denver Broncos.

Simms was electric in the game, completing 22 of his 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, in a near flawless passing performance.

None of Simms' touchdown passes were big plays that distorted his passing numbers, with his longest touchdown on the day going for just 13 yards to tight end Mark Bavaro.

Instead, Simms displayed almost robotic accuracy throughout the game, getting the ball to eight different receivers in a performance that was so great that it made Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway look like an afterthought in the same game.

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