From no Marshawn to the Falcon Flop, here are the worst play calls in Super Bowl history

From no Marshawn to the Falcon Flop, here are the worst play calls in Super Bowl history

Illustration for article titled From no Marshawn to the Falcon Flop, here are the worst play calls in Super Bowl history
Image: AP

The Super Bowl is the biggest annual social sporting event of the calendar year. With so much on the line, everything that these players and coaches do will be scrutinized even more closely than usual. Many people rise to the occasion, others fold like a lawn chair at a family reunion.

We are here to focus on the folder-uppers. Let’s take a look at some of the worst play calls in the history of the Super Bowl.

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Super Bowl III: Old Colts trick play

Super Bowl III: Old Colts trick play

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Image: AP

I have to admit that this play from the Colts in Super Bowl III was actually a pretty good play call but the execution was terrible. The Colts handed the ball off and threw it back to quarterback Earl Morrall who completely folded and missed a wide-open Jimmy Orr near the goal line. Instead, he would force the ball into coverage and get intercepted. This would help Broadway Joe Namath and the AFL Jets pull off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history and cement his famous guarantee by defeating the Colts 16-7.

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Super Bowl IX: Fran Tarkenton’s pitch to nowhere

Super Bowl IX: Fran Tarkenton’s pitch to nowhere

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Image: AP

Super Bowl IX was one of the best defensive battles we’ve ever seen on the big stage. Chuck Noll’s vaunted Steelers defense flustered Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota offense all afternoon. In the second quarter, the whole offensive backfield must have had a brain cramp because Tarkenton pitched the ball to a tailback who was like two feet behind him. It resulted in a fumble and safety that would set the tone for the game. Pittsburgh would go on to win 16-6.

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Super Bowl XII: Dallas’ failed reverse against Denver

Super Bowl XII: Dallas’ failed reverse against Denver

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Image: AP

The Cowboys played the Broncos in Super Bowl XII in New Orleans and had a team led by Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett. While the day would end favorably for Dallas, it didn’t start so great. On one of their early plays from scrimmage the Cowboys tried to run a reverse and failed miserably. They fumbled the ball and couldn’t even get back to the line of scrimmage. It wouldn’t hurt them too bad, though, as the Cowboys would claim a 27-10 victory over Denver.

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Super Bowl XVIII: Washington’s screen pass vs. Raiders

Super Bowl XVIII: Washington’s screen pass vs. Raiders

Illustration for article titled From no Marshawn to the Falcon Flop, here are the worst play calls in Super Bowl history
Image: AP

Everything went down the tubes for Washington in Super Bowl XVIII. They got manhandled 38-9 by a Raiders team led by running back Marcus Allen. It all seemed to go downhill after an inexcusable play call by the Washington coaching staff to throw a screen down by their own end zone with under 15 seconds left before the end of the first half. Of course, the ball was intercepted by Jack Squirek and returned for an easy touchdown.

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Fridge’s Bears vs Patriots 

Fridge’s Bears vs Patriots 

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Image: AP

The 1985 Bears are one of the best teams in NFL history and it showed in Super Bowl XX when they smacked the Patriots like they stole something. Yet, even in a performance as dominant as that one, there was still some tomfoolery going on in the play calling. The Bears lined up defensive lineman William “The Refrigerator” Perry in the backfield near the goal line and pitched it to him so he could throw a pass into the end zone. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out so great, Perry was sacked. Granted they had a lot more success with Perry in the backfield that season and the mishap with the big man’s QB skills didn’t cost them as they went on to win 46-10.

And then there was play when Mike Ditka handed off the The Fridge for a TD instead of letting longtime Bears great Walter Payton, playing in his first-and-only Super Bowl, get into the end zone.

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Super Bowl XXXII: Mike Holmgren lets Broncos score

Super Bowl XXXII: Mike Holmgren lets Broncos score

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Image: AP

It might be one of the least talked about Super Bowl blunders in history, but Packers head coach Mike Holmgren not knowing what down it was when he let the Broncos score a late touchdown in Super Bowl XXXII should be way up on this list. Holmgren thought it was first down instead of second down and was worried about not having enough time to get the ball back even though he had two timeouts at his disposal. Brett Favre drove the Packers back down the field to try to tie the game, but was stopped at the Denver 32-yard line. If Holmgren had used his timeouts he could have potentially stopped Denver and forced a field goal, which could have made it easier for his offense to tie the game.

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Super Bowl XLIX: Seattle throws pick at Goal Line

Super Bowl XLIX: Seattle throws pick at Goal Line

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Image: AP

On second and goal with less than 30 seconds left in the game, the Seattle Seahawks had a chance to win Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots. The Seahawks were on the one-yard line and had still had a timeout left but decided to throw the ball instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, one of the most powerful running backs in the game at that time. Pete Carroll decided to throw a short pass in traffic. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tried to complete a slant pass over the middle that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler. The Patriots would hold on to win 28-24. It is arguably the biggest coaching blunder in sports history.

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Super Bowl LI: Kyle Shanahan costs ATL

Super Bowl LI: Kyle Shanahan costs ATL

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The Atlanta Falcons became the textbook example of how to blow a championship game when they gave up a 25-point lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. There were plenty of mistakes that led to Atlanta coughing up the game, but Falcons play-caller Kyle Shanahan could have saved the Birds from embarrassment if he had ... just ... run … the ball. In the fourth quarter, with nearly four minutes remaining and the Falcons clinging to an 8-point lead, Atlanta had the ball down in New England territory on the 23-yard line. They decided to throw the ball, and quarterback Matt Ryan took a sack. On the following play, the Falcons had a holding call, pushing them even further out of field-goal range. They gave the ball back to the Patriots ... and we all know what happened next. New England went on to win, 34-28, in overtime.

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