Records are made to be broken. But that doesn’t mean that they will be broken anytime soon.
Super Bowl records have been set and reset dozens of times over the past 53 years, but some records continue to stand the test of time. And while no record is completely untouchable, there are a few Super Bowl records that may never be broken.
With Super Bowl LIV upon us, we decided to take a look at the top-five Super Bowl single-game records that may never be broken.
5. L.C. Greenwood’s four sacks in Super Bowl X
Super Bowl X had several brilliant performances. Steelers receiver Lynn Swann took home game MVP honors after catching four passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. Pittsburgh linebacker Jack Lambert recorded 14 tackles while changing the game’s momentum after slamming Cowboys safety Cliff Harris to the Orange Bowl turf after Harris mocked Pittsburgh kicker Roy Gerela after a missed field goal.
Arguably the most underrated performance during the Steelers’ 21-17 victory belonged to defensive end L.C. Greenwood, who recorded a Super Bowl record four sacks of Cowboys’ quarterback Roger Staubach. Greenwood’s consistent pressure on Staubach helped the Steelers’ defense force three turnovers while holding the Cowboys to just 270 total yards.
Only two other players have recorded at least three sacks in Super Bowl competition. One of those performances also took place during Super Bowl X, as Dwight White, Greenwood’s teammate on Pittsburgh’s defense line, had three sacks of Staubach. Twenty-one years later, Packers Hall of Fame pass rusher Reggie White recorded three sacks of Drew Bledsoe in Green Bay’s win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI. Nineteen years after that, Broncos pass rusher Von Miller’s 2.5 sacks helped Denver upset Carolina in Super Bowl 50.
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4. Rod Martin’s three interceptions
Only a handful of players have recorded at least two interceptions in a Super Bowl. That group includes former Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley, Dolphins safety Jake Scott, Redskins defensive back Barry Wilburn, Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown and Buccaneers defensive backs Dwight Smith and Dexter Jackson. Howley, the first player to record multiple picks in a Super Bowl, is still the only player from a losing Super Bowl team to be named the game’s MVP. Scott took home MVP honors following his performance two years later, as the Dolphins capped off a perfect 17-0 season with a 14-7 win over the Redskins. Brown and Jackson also took home MVP hardware after helping lead their respective teams to victory on pro football’s biggest stage.
But only one player, former Raiders‘ linebacker Rod Martin, has recorded three interceptions in one Super Bowl. Martin pulled off that feat in Super Bowl XV, as his three interceptions off of Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski helped Oakland pull off a 27-10 upset victory.
Despite his heroics, Martin was not named MVP of Super Bowl XV. The award instead went to quarterback Jim Plunkett, who came off the bench during the 1980 season to help lead the Raiders to their second Super Bowl victory in five years. Against the Eagles, Plunkett went 13-of-21 for 261 yards and three touchdowns that included an 80-yard touchdown pass to Kenny King, which was at the time the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.
3. John Riggins’ 38 carries
No running back has come close to matching Riggins’ usage total in the years following his epic performance in Super Bowl XVII. Riggins, who rushed for an NFL record 610 yards during the Redskins’ run during through the 1982 postseason, gained 166 of those yards during Washington’s 27-17 win over the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.
Riggins, who took home the game’s MVP trophy, also recorded the game’s biggest play. Trailing by four points late in the second half and facing a 4th-and-1 on the Dolphins’ 42-yard-line, Riggins broke Miami cornerback Don McNeal’s tackle and raced down the far sideline for the game-winning score.
Riggins’ 38-carry record broke the mark formerly held by Steelers running back Franco Harris, who rushed for 158 yards on 34 carries in Pittsburgh’s win over Minnesota in Super Bowl IX. Harris, who also held the record for most rushing yards in a Super Bowl prior to Riggins’ performance, broke both of Larry Csonka’s Super Bowl rushing records that were established a year earlier in Super Bowl VIII, when Csonka rushed for 145 yards and two scores on 33 carries in Miami’s 23-7 win over the Vikings.
While his record for most single game Super Bowl attempts still stands, Riggins’ single game rushing record was broken one year later by Marcus Allen, whose 191 rushing yards helped the Raiders upset Riggins and the Redskins, 38-9. Four years later, Allen’s record would be topped by Redskins running back Timmy Smith, whose 204 rushing yards in Washington’s 42-10 win over the Broncos is still the Super Bowl single game rushing record.
2. Bears‘ defense allows seven yards rushing
No, that’s not a misprint. In Super Bowl XX, the Bears’ dominant defense, led by game MVP Richard Dent, held the Patriots to a mere seven rushing yards on 11 attempts in Chicago’s 46-10 victory over New England.
The Patriots, led by running back Craig James, finished sixth in the NFL in rushing during the 1985 regular season. But after falling behind by 17 points midway through the second quarter of Super Bowl XX, New England gave up on its running game. That decision, simply put, did not pay off, as Patriots quarterbacks Steve Grogan and Tony Eason combined to complete 50% of their pass attempts while throwing two touchdowns and getting sacked seven times.
The previous record for fewest rushing yards allowed by a team in a Super Bowl was 17 in Super Bowl IX, as the Steelers’ defense held the Vikings to a .81 yards-per-carry average while keeping Minnesota’s offense out of the end zone.
1. Redskins score 35 points in one quarter
No one saw the Redskins’ second quarter onslaught coming. After allowing a 56-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the game, Washington’s deficit increased to 10 points as the first quarter came to a close. Making matters worse was the apparent injury to Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, who temporarily had to leave the game.
But when the second quarter began, Williams returned to the field before leading the most improbable scoring spree in Super Bowl history. The scoring started on Williams’ 80-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders’ on Washington’s first offensive play of the quarter. Following a Broncos punt, a 27-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Gary Clark gave the Redskins the lead with 10:51 left until halftime.
After a missed field goal by Denver’s offense, a 58-yard touchdown run by Timmy Smith extended Washington’s lead to 21-10 with 6:53 remaining in the quarter. After another Broncos three and out, Williams found Sanders open for a 50-yard touchdown, as the Redskins took an insurmountable 28-10 lead with four minutes to play until halftime.
The Redskins weren’t done scoring, however, as Barry Wilburn’s interception of Broncos quarterback John Elway led to Williams’ eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier capped off the most remarkable offensive explosion in Super Bowl history. The historic quarter gave the Redskins a 35-10 halftime lead en route to a 42-10 victory.
During the record-setting quarter, the Redskins scored a record 35 points while racking up 356 yards of offense. Amazingly, Washington was able to do this despite having the ball for just 19 plays while possessing the ball for just 5 minutes and 54 seconds. Clark finished the game with a then Super Bowl record 193 receiving yards, while Smith’s 204 rushing yards remains a Super Bowl record. Williams, who finished the game with 340 yards and four touchdown passes to earn the game’s MVP award, became the first African American starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl.