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5 Gutsiest Calls in Super Bowl History

5 Gutsiest Calls In Super Bowl
Ronald Martinez, Andy Lyons, Al Bello/ Getty Images

With a championship at stake, every play called in a Super Bowl is magnified. Regardless of the risks, some coaches have gambled by calling unconventional plays in the season’s biggest game.

Here are the 5 Gutsiest Calls in Super Bowl History:

Super Bowl XLIV: The Saints’ Onside Kick To Start The Second Half

Trailing 10-6 at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was reluctant to give Peyton Manning, his enormous forehead and the Indianapolis Colts the ball to start the second half. Payton called for an onside kick, which his team recovered to help jump start the Saints’ rally to a 31-17 win. The call wasn’t without precedent: Steelers’ coach Bill Cowher called for a surprise onside kick early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXX, with Pittsburgh trailing Dallas 20-10. Despite a quick Steelers’ touchdown drive after the kick, the Cowboys captured a 27-17 victory.

Super Bowl XXXVI: The Patriots Play For The Win, Instead of OT

St. Louis was favored to beat New England in Super Bowl XXXVI, maybe because Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had yet to don his Sith-like hoodie that he’s worn on the sideline for so many wins. After Kurt Warner’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl tied the game for the Rams with 1:30 remaining, New England, which had no timeouts left, was expected to hold the ball and go into overtime. Instead, Belichick allowed young quarterback Tom Brady to guide the Patriots into position for Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning, 48-yard field goal as time expired, giving the New England a 20-17 win and its first Super Bowl title.

Super Bowl XXI: The Giants’ Fortunes Shift On A Fake Punt

Rutledge Super Bowl QB Sneak
Giants.com

The New York Giants, a team which popularized the Gatorade bath and the self-destructive superstar (Lawrence Taylor), trailed the Denver Broncos, 10-9, at halftime of Super Bowl XXI. With the Giants facing a 4th-and-1 on the first series of the second half, New York head coach Bill Parcells sent in punter Sean Landeta. However, Landeta shifted out of punt formation, while backup quarterback Jeff Rutledge dropped in behind the center. Taking a quick snap, Rutledge dove for the first down on a sneak, and the Giants scored later in the drive on their way to a 39-20 win. See the play.

Super Bowl XIV: The Rams’ Halfback Option Pass

Most coaches aren’t successful when they ask a player who can’t throw to beat the defense, just ask current Jets’ coach Rex Ryan. The Los Angeles Rams trailed the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-12 in the third quarter of Super Bowl XIV. Los Angeles running back Lawrence McCutcheon, whose throwing motion was as fluid as Tim Tebow’s, tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Ron Smith, giving the Rams a 19-17 lead. However, Los Angeles couldn’t maintain the advantage, and the Steelers won 31-19. Years later, Pittsburgh would use a double-reverse option pass to help them win Super Bowl XL over Seattle, as Antwaan Randle El threw a 43-yard touchdown to Hines Ward.

Super Bowl XLVI: The Patriots Let Them Score

Allowing the other team to score seems like a terrible strategy to win a championship, otherwise the Detroit Lions would be up to their butt crack in Lombardi Trophies. However, a coach sometimes decides to make this unconventional call to prevent the opponent from running out the clock. In Super Bowl XLVI, the New England Patriots led 17-15 in the fourth quarter, but the New York Giants had the ball on the Patriots’ six-yard line with 1:03 to play, well in range for a game-winning field goal. With only one timeout left, New England head coach Bill Belichick told his defense to allow the Giants to score, which they did on Ahmad Bradshaw’s dash on the next play. After failing on the two-point conversion, New York kicked-off to New England, but the Patriots were unable to drive for a game-winning score. Years earlier in a tied Super Bowl XXXII, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Holmgren told his defense to let the Denver Broncos score the go-ahead touchdown from the 1-yard line with 1:47 to play and one timeout. The Packers were unable to rally, as the Broncos won 31-24.

Next: The Most Unlikely Super Bowl Teams

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