Of course we all have favorite songs by music artists that can (sometimes fortunately) be called “one-hit wonders.” Sports is no different, as many players have had one great moment in a career that was otherwise undistinguished and perhaps downright awful. The Super Bowl has had its fair share of such performances throughout its history, a list that includes rookies, former high draft picks who failed to reach expectations, etc.
Here is our list of “Top 9 Super Bowl “One-Hit Wonders”:
9. Deion Branch, WR
New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXIX
Branch was a second round draft pick by the Patriots in 2002, but he would not make a big impact until Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles. He would tie a Super Bowl-record with 11 receptions in the game for 133 yards in the Patriots’ 24-21 victory. Branch would follow that up with a solid 2005 season (78 catches for 998 yards) before struggling to stay healthy over the next four-plus seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. But he was traded back to the Patriots during the 2010 season and had 48 receptions in 11 games for them as he tries to recapture his previous success. With the Pats looking solid heading into this year’s playoffs, Deion could very easily come off this list come February.
8. Desmond Howard, WR/ KR
Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XXXI
Howard won the Heisman Trophy while at the University of Michigan in 1991, leading to him being the #4 overall pick by the Washington Redskins in 1992. He would play 11 NFL seasons five teams, primarily as a return man, and his best performance would come with the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. Howard had a punt return touchdown and tied a Super Bowl-record with 244 all-purpose yards on his way to winning MVP of the game. He would go on to play for the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions sandwiched around a one-year return to the Packers before his NFL career came to an end in 2002.
7. David Tyree, WR
New York Giants, Super Bowl XLII
Tyree was a sixth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2003, and even earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2005 as a special teamer. But his shining moment came in Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots. Giants’ QB Eli Manning somewhat miraculously evaded a sack and let go of a deep pass down the middle of the field….and Tyree was able to battle Patriots’ safety Rodney Harrison and pin the ball to his helmet on the way to the ground. It will go down as the last catch Tyree will make in an NFL game, as he battled injuries and then announced his retirement in July of 2010.
6. Mark Rypien, QB
Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXVI
Rypien was a sixth-round draft pick by the Redskins in 1986, and would wait until 1988 before seeing game action and becoming the first Canadian-born quarterback to start in the NFL. His best season by far came in 1991, as he would lead the Redskins to a victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI as he threw for 292 yards and took home the game’s MVP award. He would start 16 games again in 1992, but his numbers fell off (28 touchdowns in 1991 to 13 in 1992) and he would never again start more than 10 games in a season. Rypien would play his last game in the NFL in 2001 with the Indianapolis Colts, after years of bouncing around the league and even a couple of years out of football after his Redskins’ career came to an end.
5. Mike Jones, LB
St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXIV
Jones was in his ninth NFL season, and third with the St. Louis Rams in 1999. He started all 16 games for the Rams during the regular season, and recorded four interceptions (returning two for touchdowns). But the play he made on Tennessee Titans’ wide receiver Kevin Dyson to preserve a Rams’ victory in Super Bowl XXXIV would become the moment he will forever be known for. Jones made an excellent tackle as Dyson reached in vain for the goal line and the Rams would become Super Bowl champions. He would play a total of 12 NFL seasons for three teams.
4. Jim O’Brien, PK
Baltimore Colts, Super Bowl V
O’Brien played just four NFL seasons, and he made just 55.6 percent of his field goals (60-for-108) during his career. But as a rookie in Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys, O’Brien would make the first game-winning field goal in Super Bowl history as the Baltimore Colts won the game 16-13. One interesting note is O’Brien also played some wide receiver during his NFL career, catching 11 of his 14 career passes in 1972.
3. Larry Brown, CB
Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXX
Brown was a key component in the secondary of all three Cowboys’ championship teams in the early 1990s, but his performance in Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers stands out clearly. He intercepted Steelers’ quarterback Neil O’Donnell twice in the game on his way to becoming the first cornerback to be named Super Bowl MVP. Brown would parlay that performance into a lucrative contract with the Oakland Raiders the following offseason, but after two disappointing seasons in Oakland ended his NFL career back with the Cowboys in 1998. He had 14 interceptions during his eight-year NFL career.
2. Dexter Jackson, S
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl XXXVII
Dexter was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII after picking off 2 Rich Gannon passes. The honor went his way because of a “fan vote” via the interwebs – had they not come, defensive end Simeon Rice would’ve won the award. Jackson became a free agent in the offseason and almost signed with the Steelers before agreeing to terms with the Arizona Cardinals. The guy the Steelers picked up instead? Troy Polamalu. You’re welcome, Steel City. As for Jackson, he currently plays for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL. Anyone watch the UFL? Every team has the same uniform. Now, THAT is how you save money.
1. Timmy Smith, RB
Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII
Smith, a rookie from Texas Tech, had 126 rushing yards over seven games during the 1987 regular season as he failed to find the end zone. He was surprisingly the Redskins’ starting tailback in Super Bowl XXII, and he did not disappoint. Smith set a Super Bowl-record with 204 rushing yards on 22 carries along with two touchdowns in Washington’s 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos. He had 470 rushing yards with the Redskins in 1988, but would be plagued by injuries and retire after one game with the Dallas Cowboys in 1990. He finished his NFL career with 602 regular season rushing yards and three touchdowns over three seasons.
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