Tom Brady Super Bowl MVP

The NFL postseason, and the Super Bowl in particular, breeds legends. With more eyeballs turning toward the Super Bowl each year to set television viewership records, players are under more pressure than ever to thrive in the spotlight and help their team bring home a championship.

Each year, the Super Bowl media vote one player as the game’s Most Valuable Player, as the one guy in particular who rises to the occasion and earns lifetime fame and respect from the hometown fans.

The reporters on-hand don’t always get it right, though. And some games feature more spectacular performances than others. That’s why PointAfter made a metric called “MVP points” to measure the contributions of all 50 Super Bowl MVPs from the 49 Super Bowls (one year featured co-MVPs).

MVP points largely draws from scoring for standard fantasy football leagues: one point equals 25 passing yards or 10 rushing/receiving yards, while passing touchdowns earn four points and rushing/receiving/defensive touchdowns count as six points. Defensive and special teams players also rack up points based on tackles, sacks, passes defensed, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and defensive/special teams return yards.

Defensive statistics weren’t very sophisticated before the turn of the millennium, so outside of sacks, interceptions and defensive return yards, we had to rely on team statistics to partially evaluate the defensive players who earned Super Bowl MVP honors before 2000.

Now that we’ve got the logistics out of the way, let’s get to it. Who are the most deserving Super Bowl MVPs in NFL history?

#50. Chuck Howley (Super Bowl V)

Super Bowl result: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
Key stats: two interceptions (22 return yards); Dallas defense allowed 16 points and 279 yards

MVP points: 7.2

The only losing player and the first non-quarterback to ever be named MVP, Howley picked off two passes in a sloppy game that featured 11 turnovers. Fitting of his last-place ranking here, Hovley refused to accept the award because he was too distraught after the Cowboys lost. Dallas got some redemption the following year with a Super Bowl VI victory and more deserving MVP.

Note: Defensive statistics weren’t very sophisticated before the turn of the millennium. Outside of sacks, interceptions and defensive return yards, we had to rely on team defensive statistics to partially evaluate the defensive players who won MVP before 2000.

#49. Fred Biletnikoff (Super Bowl XI)

Super Bowl result: Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
Key stats: four receptions, 79 yards

MVP points: 7.9

Three of Biletnikoff’s catches moved the Raiders to within Minnesota’s two-yard line and preceded Oakland touchdowns. Of the six wide receivers to win Super Bowl MVP, Biletnikoff is the only one to not surpass 100 yards.

#48. Randy White (Super Bowl XII)

Super Bowl result: Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
Key stats: one sack; Dallas defense allowed 10 points and 156 yards

MVP points: 8.0

White was one of two co-MVPs on Dallas’ “Doomsday Defense,” which limited former Cowboys QB Craig Morton to just eight completions for 61 passing yards while also forcing a whopping eight turnovers.

#47. Joe Namath (Super Bowl III)

Super Bowl result: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
Key stats: 17-for-28, 206 passing yards

MVP points: 8.2

Namath backed up his famous Super Bowl guarantee with a steady performance, but didn’t have to throw any passes in the fourth quarter thanks to New York’s dominant defense. The Jets picked off Colts starter Earl Morrall three times before Johnny Unitas relieved him and led Baltimore to a lone touchdown that was too little, too late.

#46. Len Dawson (Super Bowl IV)

Super Bowl result: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
Key stats: 12-for-17, 142 passing yards, one TD, one INT, 11 rushing yards

MVP points: 8.8

The Chiefs, pegged as 13-point underdogs, held the Vikings to 67 rushing yards while forcing three interceptions out of Minnesota’s two quarterbacks. The 34-year-old Dawson, who holds the NFL record for most years leading the league in completion percentage, was comparatively steady while averaging a robust 8.4 yards per attempt.

#45. Ray Lewis (Super Bowl XXXV)

Super Bowl result: Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
Key stats: five tackles, four passes defensed; Ravens defense allowed seven points and 152 yards

MVP points: 9.0

Lewis, just the second linebacker to win Super Bowl MVP, was recognized for being the leader of a unit that shut out New York’s offense (the Giants’ only touchdown scored via kickoff return). His tangible statistical contribution was somewhat negligible, however, compared to the four Ravens who picked off Giants QB Kerry Collins.

#44. Harvey Martin (Super Bowl XII)

Super Bowl result: Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
Key stats: two sacks; Dallas defense allowed 10 points and 156 yards

MVP points: 10.0

The other co-MVP of Super Bowl XII, Martin recorded two of the Cowboys’ four sacks. The defensive end was in the middle of four consecutive Pro Bowl campaigns between 1976-79.

#43. Tom Brady (Super Bowl XXXVI)

Super Bowl result: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
Key stats: 16-for-27, 145 passing yards, one TD, 3 rushing yards

MVP points: 10.1

Brady led the Patriots, 14-point underdogs, down the field without any timeouts in less than 90 seconds to set up a game-winning field goal from Adam Vinatieri. Though his statistical contributions were lesser than most Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks, the last-minute drive symbolized the maturation of the 24-year-old from game manager to Super Bowl winner.

#42. Dexter Jackson (Super Bowl XXXVII)

Super Bowl result: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
Key stats: two interceptions (22 return yards), two passes defensed, two tackles

MVP points: 11.4

In the first Super Bowl matchup between the NFL’s No. 1 offense (Oakland) and No. 1 defense (Tampa Bay), the old adage of “defense wins championships” held true. Rich Gannon threw five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Curiously, Jackson, who recorded the two picks that weren’t pick-sixes, was named the game’s MVP.

#41. Peyton Manning (Super Bowl XLI)

Super Bowl result: Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
Key stats: 25-for-38, 247 passing yards, one TD, one INT

MVP points: 11.9

This wasn’t exactly a vintage performance from Manning, who was aided by five Chicago turnovers. Still, he brought the Colts back from a 14-6 deficit to outscore the Bears 23-3 over the game’s final three quarters.

#40. Larry Brown (Super Bowl XXX)

Super Bowl result: Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Key stats: two interceptions (77 return yards), Dallas defense allowed 17 points and 310 yards

MVP points: 12.7

Brown, a former 12th-round pick, picked off two second-half passes from Neil O’Donnell and returned both to Pittsburgh’s red zone to set up a pair of crucial Cowboys touchdowns. The turnovers made Brown the only cornerback in history to win Super Bowl MVP.

#39. Deion Branch (Super Bowl XXXIX)

Super Bowl result: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Key stats: 11 catches on 12 targets, 133 receiving yards

MVP points: 13.3

Branch tied the Super Bowl record with 11 receptions, including one spectacular grab snatched from the hands of cornerback Sheldon Brown to set up a field goal that put the Patriots up by 10 in the fourth quarter. He’s the highest-ranked offensive player on this list without a touchdown, and one of three to claim Super Bowl MVP along with Joe Namath and Fred Biletnikoff.

#38. Bart Starr (Super Bowl II)

Super Bowl result: Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14
Key stats: 13-for-24, 202 passing yards, one TD, 14 rushing yards

MVP points: 13.5

Starr won his second straight Super Bowl MVP following a difficult regular season that saw him miss four games due to injury and throw nearly twice as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (9). He was turnover-free against Oakland, however, helping Green Bay stake out a 26-7 lead through three quarters before a jammed thumb forced him from the game.

#37. Richard Dent (Super Bowl XX)

Super Bowl result: Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
Key stats: 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one pass defensed; Chicago defense allowed 10 points and 123 yards

MVP points: 14.0

Dent, a Hall of Famer who’s tied for No. 7 on the career sack leaderboard, was part of the legendary 1985 Bears squad that finished with an 18-1 overall record and brought Chicago its lone Super Bowl. “Da Bears” set or tied Super Bowl recrods for sacks (seven), rushing yards allowed (seven) and margin of victory.

#36. Roger Staubach (Super Bowl VI)

Super Bowl result: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
Key stats: 12-for-19, 119 yards, two passing TDs, 18 rushing yards

MVP points: 14.6

After being elevated to first-string in the middle of the season, Staubach guided the Cowboys to 10 straight wins, including three postseason victories, to clinch Dallas’ first Super Bowl. He was somewhat of a curious choice for MVP over tailback Duane Thomas, who totaled 112 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown, and Staubach later theorized Thomas was snubbed by the Super Bowl media for refusing to do interviews leading up to the game.

Interestingly enough, linebacker Chuck Howley, the lowest-ranked MVP on this list for his performance in Dallas’ loss in Super Bowl V, might have been more deserving this year. He intercepted Bob Griese once and recovered a fumble, leading the charge in holding Miami to three points, the lowest score by any team in Super Bowl history.

#35. Terry Bradshaw (Super Bowl XIV)

Super Bowl result: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
Key stats: 14-for-21, 309 passing yards, two TDs, three INTs, nine rushing yards

MVP points: 15.3

Bradshaw lifted the heavily favored Steelers past Los Angeles in the Rose Bowl with a spirited fourth-quarer comeback. He tossed a go-ahead 73-yard touchdown to John Stallworth early in the final period, then found Stallworth for a 45-yard pass later on that put Pittsburgh in position for the knockout punch.

Those heroics might not have been necessary if Bradshaw hadn’t thrown three picks, though.

#34. Jake Scott (Super Bowl VII)

Super Bowl result: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
Key stats: two interceptions (63 return yards); Miami defense allowed seven points and 228 yards

MVP points: 15.3

With Washington 10 yards away from a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Scott picked off QB Billy Kilmer for his second “oskie” of the game. That would prove to be crucial after the Skins returned a botched field goal attempt for a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining. Scott and the Dolphins defense had to prevent Washington from scoring one more time before the Fins finished off their legendary undefeated season.

#33. Eli Manning (Super Bowl XLVI)

Super Bowl result: New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17
Key stats: 30-for-40, 296 passing yards, one TD

MVP points: 15.7

Peyton’s little brother followed up his best statistical season by leading the Giants to their second Super Bowl upset over New England in five years. New York jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but Manning still had to conjure up some final-drive magic before Ahmad Bradshaw plunged in a one-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining to provide the final score of the instant classic.

#32. Bart Starr (Super Bowl I)

Super Bowl result: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Key stats: 16-for-23, 250 passing yards, two TDs, one INT

MVP points: 16.0

Starr was magnificently efficient in the first Super Bowl, as the Packers steadily dismantled the Chiefs and showed why the NFL was considered the superior league over the AFL. Starr certainly deserved the inaugural Super Bowl MVP, but it should be noted Max McGee racked up seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns against KC after totaling four catches, 91 yards and a lone score during the regular season.

#31. Eli Manning (Super Bowl XLII)

Super Bowl result: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
Key stats: 19-for-34, 255 passing yards, two TDs, one INT, four rushing yards

MVP points: 16.9

One of the greatest upsets in NFL history — nay, sports history — resulted in Manning getting his first Super Bowl ring one year after his older brother. But would anyone have complained if David Tyree, who caught New York’s first touchdown in this game and one of the most memorable catches in football lore, brought home the Super Bowl MVP instead?

#30. Ottis Anderson (Super Bowl XXV)

Super Bowl result: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
Key stats: 21 carries, one reception, 109 all-purpose yards, one rushing TD

MVP points: 16.9

In the first Super Bowl with zero turnovers, and only the second to date, Anderson took home the MVP after the Giants successfully executed a power-running strategy to take down the Bills in the first of Buffalo’s four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Some felt, however, that opposing tailback Thurman Thomas (135 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards, rushing TD) deserved to win MVP in the losing effort.

After all, the Bills would have taken home the title had kicker Scott Norwood’s game-winning attempt sailed through the uprights instead of wide right.

#29. Mark Rypien (Super Bowl XXVI)

Super Bowl result: Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24
Key stats: 18-for-33, 292 passing yards, two TDs, one INT

MVP points: 17.3

Rypien helped Washington stake out a massive 37-10 lead after going up 24-0 shortly after halftime to treat Bills fans to a different type of heartbreak in Buffalo’s second straight Super Bowl defeat.

#28. Joe Montana (Super Bowl XVI)

Super Bowl result: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Key stats: 14-for-22, 157 passing yards, one passing TD, 18 rushing yards, one rushing TD

MVP points: 18.1

Montana’s MVP score in his first Super Bowl victory is inflated by a QB sneak, so this performance is certainly the least impressive of his four championship appearances. There wasn’t another obvious candidate, though, as the 49ers spread around the ball on offense and benefited from a defense whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

#27. Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII)

Super Bowl result: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Key stats: nine receptions, 131 yards, one TD

MVP points: 19.1

Holmes hauled in the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining and totaled four receptions for 73 yards on the final drive to help the Steelers become the first franchise to win six Super Bowls.

Kurt Warner put up one heck of a stat line (31-of-43, 377 passing yards, three TDs, one INT) in the losing effort, accumulating the second-most passing yards in Super Bowl history.

#26. Drew Brees (Super Bowl XLIV)

Super Bowl result: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
Key stats: 32-of-39, 288 passing yards, two TDs

MVP points: 19.4

Brees lifted New Orleans to its lone Super Bowl, four years after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The superstar QB is a hero in Louisiana for his masterful play during the Saints’ championship run and his humanitarian work to help revive New Orleans.

#25. Hines Ward (Super Bowl XL)

Super Bowl result: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10
Key stats: five receptions, 123 receiving yards, one TD, 18 rushing yards

MVP points: 20.1

Ward’s 43-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter on a reverse pass from Antwaan Randle El put this game out of reach, even with Ben Roethlisberger badly struggling (9-for-21, 123 passing yards, two INTs) in his first Super Bowl.

#24. Malcolm Smith (Super Bowl XLVIII)

Super Bowl result: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
Key stats: one interception, one fumble recovered, 76 defensive return yards, one TD

MVP points: 20.6

In a matchup between the NFL’s best offense (Denver) and best defense (Seattle), Smith spearheaded a shockingly one-sided affair. Denver didn’t record a first down until there was 10:37 left in the second quarter, when they were already down 15-0. Smith’s 69-yard pick-six later on in that drive extended the lead to 22-0 and punctured any momentum the Broncos had.

#23. John Elway (Super Bowl XXXIII)

Super Bowl result: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
Key stats: 18-for-29, 336 yards, one passing TD, one INT, 2 rushing yards, one rushing TD

MVP points: 21.6

Super Bowl XXXIII featured a matchup of two running backs who combined for 3,854 rushing yards during the regular season in Terrell Davis and Jamal Anderson, but it was Elway who became the oldest player to be named Super Bowl MVP at age 38. The wily veteran spurred the Broncos to their second straight championship in the final game of his career, with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith providing the main highlight.

#22. Franco Harris (Super Bowl IX)

Super Bowl result: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
Key stats: 34 carries, 158 yards, one TD

MVP points: 21.8

Harris was the first African-American and first Italian-American to win the Super Bowl MVP.

A 26-year-old Terry Bradshaw (9-for-14, 96 passing yards) had yet to evolve into an MVP candidate in his first Super Bowl appearance, so Pittsburgh elected to lean on Harris on offense. Despite being only 24 years old himself, Harris was already a huge part of Steelers lore after recording “The Immaculate Reception” two postseasons earlier during his Rookie of the Year campaign.

#21. Lynn Swann (Super Bowl X)

Super Bowl result: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Key stats: four receptions, 161 yards, one TD

MVP points: 22.1

Franco Harris (27 carries, 82 yards) was largely contained in Pittsburgh’s second consecutive Super Bowl, so the Steelers had to rely on the passing game for big plays.

Swann and Terry Bradshaw (9-for-19, 209 yards, two TDs) more than obliged. The pair connected on a 64-yard score that put Pittsburgh up 21-10 in a wacky fourth quarter that saw 21 of the game’s 38 points scored, including 14 straight from the Steelers (safety, field goal, field goal, touchdown, failed conversion).

#20. Terry Bradshaw (Super Bowl XIII)

Super Bowl result: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Key stats: 17-for-30, 318 passing yards, four TDs, one INT, two fumbles lost

MVP points: 22.2

Three years later, Bradshaw outplayed Roger Staubach (17-for-30, 228 passing yards, three TDs, one INT) in the only Super Bowl to feature two quarterbacks with a pair of championships already under their belts.

The turnover-prone QB started off extremely cold, however, following up a touchdown on Pittsburgh’s opening possession with an interception and two lost fumbles on back-to-back-to-back drives. He eventually recovered to throw two more touchdowns in the second quarter, and another in the fourth to Lynn Swann that extended the Steelers’ lead to 35-17 and let them withstand a late rally from Staubach’s crew.

#19. Desmond Howard (Super Bowl XXXI)

Super Bowl result: Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21
Key stats: four kick returns for 154 yards and one TD, six punt returns for 90 yards

MVP points: 22.4

We had to take some liberties in calculating MVP points for Howard, the lone kick/punt returner to win Super Bowl MVP and the fourth/last Heisman Trophy winner.

We figured that kick returners are assigned with getting the ball to at least the 20-yard line, so an average kick returner would have accumulated 80 yards. We gave him credit for the extra 74 yards and touchdown he accumulated, as well as the 90 punt return yards that routinely put the Packers in good field position and netted Brett Favre his lone championship.

#18. Jim Plunkett (Super Bowl XV)

Super Bowl result: Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
Key stats: 13-for-21, 261 passing yards, three TDs, 9 rushing yards

MVP points: 23.3

Plunkett picked apart Philly’s defense, helping the Raiders build a 21-3 lead midway through the third quarter that proved too much to overcome. Linebacker Rod Martin, who picked off Eagles QB Ron Jaworski three times for 44 return yards, would have been a fine choice, too.

#17. Joe Flacco (Super Bowl XLVII)

Super Bowl result: Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
Key stats: 22-for-33, 287 passing yards, three TDs

MVP points: 23.5

The Ravens were seemingly cruising after Jacoby Jones returned the second-half kick off 108 yards to put Baltimore up 28-6. However, they ended up needing each of Flacco’s three first-half touchdown tosses to hold off the 49ers, who mounted a furious rally behind Colin Kaepernick but couldn’t quite finish the deal.

#16. Aaron Rodgers (Super Bowl XLV)

Super Bowl result: Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25
Key stats: 24-for-39, 304 passing yards, three TDs

MVP points: 24.0

This was the year Rodgers had perhaps his best receiving corps, with Greg Jennings, James Jones, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson all recording at least 500 receiving yards and two touchdowns during the regular season. Rodgers threw a pair of touchdowns to Jennings and another to Nelson in Super Bowl XLV to win a ring in his third season as Green Bay’s starter.

#15. John Riggins (Super Bowl XVII)

Super Bowl result: Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17
Key stats: 38 carries, 166 rushing yards, one TD, 15 receiving yards

MVP points: 24.1

Riggins struggled to gain traction for most of this game, but eventually broke through with a 43-yard dash that put Washington up 20-17 in the fourth quarter. That helped overcome a mediocre performance from Joe Theismann, who gained 143 passing yards on 23 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

#14. Kurt Warner (Super Bowl XXXIV)

Super Bowl result: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Key stats: 24-for-45, 414 passing yards, two TDs

MVP points: 24.7

After the Rams squandered a 16-0 lead, Warner completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce to regain the lead with less than two minutes remaining. St. Louis held off the Titans with no yards to spare to claim the franchise’s lone Super Bowl.

Warner’s 414 passing yards are the most ever gained in a Super Bowl, and he in fact occupies the top three slots for that record.

#13. Tom Brady (Super Bowl XLIX)

Super Bowl result: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Key stats: 37-of-50, 328 passing yards, four TDs, two INTs

MVP points: 24.8

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit by guiding his offense on two touchdown drives, which put the pressure on Seattle’s offense to find the end zone in the final two minutes. They fell infamously short.

Brady’s 37 completions were a Super Bowl record, and he spread the love with touchdowns to four different receivers (Brandon LaFell, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman).

#12. Phil Simms (Super Bowl XXI)

Super Bowl result: New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20
Key stats: 22-of-25, 268 yards, three TDs, 25 rushing yards

MVP points: 25.2

Simms completed a Super Bowl record 88 percent of his pass attempts, as the Giants rebounded from an early 10-7 deficit to score 26 straight points and remove all the drama in a game where New York was 9.5-point favorites.

After being crowned MVP in the Rose Bowl, Simms became the first athlete to utter the famous phrase: “I’m going to Disney World!

#11. Tom Brady (Super Bowl XXXVIII)

Super Bowl result: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Key stats: 32-of-48, 354 passing yards, three TDs, one INT, 12 rushing yards

MVP points: 25.3

Brady outdueled Jake Delhomme (16-for-33, 323 yards, three TDs), as both QBs exceeded expectations against a pair of stingy defenses. In a game where the over/under was 38 points, the Patriots and Panthers scored 37 points in the fourth quarter alone.

By our MVP point metric, Brady turned in the best performance of any Super Bowl MVP in the 21st century. He led the Patriots on two go-ahead drives in the game’s final three minutes, which ended on a 41-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.

#10. Larry Csonka (Super Bowl VIII)

Super Bowl result: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7
Key stats: 33 carries, 145 rushing yards, two TDs

MVP points: 26.5

Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese only needed to throw the ball seven times, as Miami handed off to its fullback on a whopping 33 of 61 offensive snaps. Csonka responded with a healthy 4.4 yards per carry average, and his two-yard plunge in the third quarter put Miami up 24-0 to erase any chance of a Vikings comeback.

Csonka was the first running back to be named Super Bowl MVP; both his 145 rushing yards and 33 carries were Super Bowl records at the time.

#9. Doug Williams (Super Bowl XXII)

Super Bowl result: Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10
Key stats: 18-for-29, 340 passing yards, four TDs, one INT

MVP points: 27.4

Williams is almost certainly the most unlikely Super Bowl MVP in the top 10. He lost both of the regular season games he started in relief of the injured Jay Schroeder, only to go on and emerge victorious from each of his three playoff starts.

Williams, the first African-American QB to win a Super Bowl, helped Washington recover from an early 10-0 deficit by spearheading a remarkable run of 42 unanswered points, including a Super Bowl record 35 points in the second quarter.

#8. Emmitt Smith (Super Bowl XXVIII)

Super Bowl result: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13
Key stats: 30 carries, 132 rushing yards, two TDs, four receptions, 26 receiving yards

MVP points: 27.8

One year after Troy Aikman dominated Buffalo’s defense to win Dallas a Super Bowl (we’ll get to that performance in a moment), it was Smith’s turn to run roughshod against the Bills.

The 24-year-old carried seven times on an eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive that broke a 13-13 deadlock in the third quarter. Smith then scored from one yard out in the fourth quarter to put the final nail in the coffin of the Bills’ dynasty, which meekly succumbed to a fourth straight Super Bowl loss by failing to score in the second half after jumping out to a 13-6 halftime advantage.

#7. Jerry Rice (Super Bowl XXIII)

Super Bowl result: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
Key stats: 11 catches, 215 receiving yards, one TD, five rushing yards

MVP points: 28.0

It’s fitting that the consensus best wideout to ever play football is the highest-ranked receiver on this list.

The 26-year-old Rice won his first Super Bowl in style, setting a championship record for receiving yards. His lone touchdown in the game tied it up at 13-13 early in the fourth quarter, and he also had three receptions for 51 yards on San Francisco’s game-winning drive later in the period.

Joe Montana also had an MVP-worthy game, passing for a then-record 357 yards with two touchdowns. He’d get his third and final Super Bowl MVP the following year with another remarkable record-setting performance that lands in the top five of this list.

#6. Troy Aikman (Super Bowl XXVII)

Super Bowl result: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17
Key stats: 22-for-30, 273 passing yards, four TDs, 28 rushing yards on three attempts

MVP points: 29.7

Aikman put on a passing clinic against the shell-shocked Bills, who scored the game’s first touchdown but found themselves down 28-10 at halftime following three TDs through the air from Aikman, two to superstar wideout Michael Irvin.

After the Bills cut it to 31-17 by the end of the third quarter, Aikman and the Dallas offense shoveled more dirt on the grave by adding 21 points to result in the lucrative final score.

#5. Marcus Allen (Super Bowl XVIII)

Super Bowl result: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9
Key stats: 20 carries, 191 yards, two TDs, two receptions for 18 yards

MVP points: 32.9

Allen was an unstoppable force in the only Super Bowl victory for the Raiders while they played in Los Angeles.

Averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, Allen set then-Super Bowl records for rushing yards and longest run, a 74-yard scamper on the last play of the third quarter that was the final touchdown of the game.

#4. Joe Montana (Super Bowl XXIV)

Super Bowl result: San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10
Key stats: 22-for-29, 297 passing yards, five TDs, 15 rushing yards on two carries

MVP points: 33.4

Montana’s final Super Bowl is the one many pundits point to as the most impressive title game victory in NFL history, and it’s hard to argue against that statement. The 55 points scored by the 49ers are the most ever, and the 45-point difference is the most lopsided margin of victory.

Montana, Rice and Co. basically had this one wrapped up by halftime with a 27-3 advantage. They tacked on a couple more touchdowns on their first two drives of the second half for good measure, as Rice ended up totaling 148 receiving yards and three of San Francisco’s eight touchdowns.

Somehow, this wasn’t even Montana’s most impressive Super Bowl showing in terms of MVP points.

#3. Terrell Davis (Super Bowl XXXII)

Super Bowl result: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Key stats: 30 carries, 157 rushing yards, three TDs; two catches for eight receiving yards

MVP points: 34.5

Davis, the highest-ranked running back on this list, helped the Broncos overcome a disappointing showing from John Elway (12-for-22, 123 yards, one INT). The 37-year-old’s biggest contribution in this game was imitating a helicopter.

Meanwhile, Davis fought through a migraine that caused him to miss most of the second quarter. He recovered to punch in go-ahead touchdowns for Denver in both the third and fourth quarters, the latter of which came with under two minutes left. The San Diego native did his hometown proud in Qualcomm Stadium, accounting for over half of the Broncos’ 61 offensive touches.

#2. Joe Montana (Super Bowl XIX)

Super Bowl result: San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16
Key stats: 24-for-35, 331 passing yards, three TDs; five carries for 59 rushing yards, one TD

MVP points: 37.1

Montana’s second Super Bowl win was his magnum opus, an example of how the Hall of Famer’s dual-threat capabilities could absolutely tear apart ill-prepared defenses.

In a clash between two teams with elite quarterbacks (Montana and Dan Marino) and a combined 33-3 record — still the best mark among Super Bowl participants — Montana helped the 49ers jump out to a 28-10 lead in the second quarter with a six-yard rushing score. A 16-yard toss to Roger Craig in the third quarter provided the final points of the game, as the 49ers’ underrated defense handled Miami from there.

One final stat on Montana: He holds the highest career Super Bowl passer rating (127.8), as the four-time champion remarkably never threw an interception nor lost in the title game.

#1. Steve Young (Super Bowl XXIX)

Super Bowl result: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26
Key stats: 24-for-36, 325 passing yards, six TDs; five rushes for 49 yards

MVP points: 41.9

Ten years after Montana turned in his best Super Bowl (by MVP points, anyway), his successor delivered a comparable performance after standing on the sidelines for two of those Montana-led titles.

San Francisco was favored by a record-18.5 points over the “Cinderella” Chargers, but that line still didn’t convey the beatdown the 49ers’ league-best offense laid on San Diego. The 49ers set a record for fastest non-kickoff touchdown by scoring less than two minutes into the game in three plays from scrimmage.

They ended up amassing two touchdowns in each of the game’s first three quarters. Young and Jerry Rice then hooked up for their third scoring play of the evening in the final period. The Chargers also managed to score in each quarter, but never provided a serious threat to San Francisco, which claimed its fifth championship in 14 years.

Young’s six touchdown tosses broke a Super Bowl record that still stands, and clinched him the title as the sport’s most deserving Super Bowl MVP in history.

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