While the quarterback often garners the glory, some heroic catching by the league’s best wide receivers has made all the difference in a team taking home a Super Bowl title.
It’s generally tricky for a wideout to have an incredible showing without a good game from his quarterback. Many signal callers have earned the MVP over their teammate, but some tilts are long-remembered for stellar wide-receiver play.
Many of today’s championship teams typically don’t feature star-quality wide receivers. Of course, this was far from the truth a year ago, when Tampa Bay won it all with players like Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski.
Let’s look back at previous Super Bowls and some of the most outstanding individual games from wide receivers.
Best Wide Receiver Performances in the Super Bowl
Jerry Rice – San Francisco 49ers
This list must begin with Jerry Rice, who owns the current record for career receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns in the big game.
It obviously helps that the San Francisco 49ers lead man was involved in a total of four Super Bowls, but Rice also has the record for catches and scores in one game.
In Super Bowl XXIII from the 1988 season, the receiver took home the MVP after a massive game. Rice caught 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown en route to a four-point victory for the Niners. His score tied things up at 13 apiece early in the fourth quarter.
Rice was too much to handle for the Cincinnati Bengals defense. His 11 receptions rank him tied for third all-time; however, his 215 yards still stand as the record for the Super Bowl.
No other player has ever exceeded 200 yards, with Washington’s Ricky Sanders the closest at 193.
Although this may be Rice’s best Super Bowl, he did have a three-touchdown showing in two different games.
In the 1989 season with Joe Montana, Rice totaled 148 yards on seven catches, including the three scores. Then again, in 1995, Rice hauled in 10 balls for 149 yards and found the end zone three times with quarterback Steve Young.
While Rice is the only receiver in NFL history to record three scores in a single Super Bowl, several players, including Gronkowski last year, have two.
Rice is probably safe for some time, with almost 600 career receiving yards in the season’s final contest, but Gronk could contend for overall catches.
Tampa’s tight end is at 29 catches in five total Super Bowls, four behind Rice’s record of 33.
Isaac Bruce – St. Louis Rams
Significant statistical outputs are worth a lot more when they occur in tight affairs. In one of the closest Super Bowls, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce carried the load for his offense in their victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Since Marshall Faulk and the rushing attack wasn’t working like always, the Rams leaned on quarterback Kurt Warner.
He connected with Bruce six times for 162 yards and the game-winning touchdown with around two minutes left in the contest.
After the Titans scored three consecutive times and tied it at 16, Bruce made a great catch-and-run to reclaim the lead. Warner’s pass was slightly underthrown, but the receiver came back to make a play on it and cut inside.
He ran the remaining 40 yards basically untouched and won the title for the Rams with the 73-yard grab.
For those who remember this Super Bowl, the Titans’ efforts on the following drive fell just short. Wide receiver Kevin Dyson landed on the one-yard line as he stretched out his arm, reaching for the end zone.
Bruce missed out on earning the MVP because his quarterback, Warner, threw for more than 400 yards and two touchdowns. The wideout split most of the targets through the air, as teammate Torry Holt posted a notable stat line with seven catches for 109 yards and a score, as well.
The 162 yards place Bruce in third for the most receiving yards in the Super Bowl. His 73-yard snag also still ranks within the top 10.
Ricky Sanders – Washington
Washington’s Ricky Sanders is another receiver who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves due to a quarterback.
As mentioned, he is the closest player to getting to Rice’s level by eclipsing 200 yards in a Super Bowl. Sanders’ 193 in Super Bowl XXII helped his side take down the Denver Broncos with ease.
Despite allowing the first 10 points to Denver, Washington scored 35 in the second quarter to put things away early.
Sanders got Washington on the board with an 80-yard strike from quarterback Doug Williams.
He wasn’t done, either. Later that quarter, Sanders took another catch 50 yards for a touchdown.
Williams won the MVP, but Sanders left his mark. He had nine grabs for the 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Besides his QB’s big night, running back Timmy Smith generated over 200 yards on the ground in this Super Bowl, too.
Sanders may somewhat blend into this lopsided tilt, but his yardage is only second to the greatest receiver in the league. He’s also on the shortlist of guys who have multiple receiving touchdowns in the same Super Bowl.
Sanders made it back to the final game a few years later with Washington, but he only caught one pass in the win.
Now that the NFL playoffs are officially set, we’re just a few weeks away from seeing another potentially remarkable showing on the biggest stage. Super Bowl odds are available for betting in nearby states for gamblers located in Texas.