Posted: Monday January 23, 2006 11:59AM; Updated: Monday January 23, 2006 12:14PM
Thirty-five players have won or shared the MVP award in the first 39 Super Bowls, and there's not a one of them whose shining moment on the game's grandest stage wasn't memorable in any number of ways. But here are the individual performances that we'll still be recalling and measuring by in the next 40 chapters of the NFL's annual extravaganza.
Here are the 10 most memorable, most fame-inspiring Super Bowl MVP performances in history, from "Joe Willie" Namath, to "Joe Cool'' Montana, to Tom Brady's modern-day heroics:
10. Larry Csonka, Dolphins, RB, SB VIII
Csonka was the battering ram of a dominating Dolphins running game, producing a then-record 145 yards rushing on 33 bruising carries in Miami's 24-7 win over Minnesota. The Dolphins ran so effectively that quarterback Bob Griese attempted just seven passes all day. Csonka scored on short runs of 2 and 5 yards, and consistently carried Vikings defenders on his back.
Brady's rags-to-riches story was still fresh when he stepped to the fore and led New England to its dramatic 20-17 upset of heavily favored St. Louis. Brady won the MVP despite just 145 yards passing and one touchdown, largely because of his other-worldly cool 5-of-6 performance on the Patriots' game-winning field goal drive in the final 90 seconds.
Allen's running always looked as smooth and effortless as a cheetah's, and against the Redskins he was in the rarest of forms, sliding and gliding his way to a then-record 191 yards rushing in the Raiders' 38-9 blowout of Washington. His two third-quarter touchdowns sealed the deal, with his 74-yard reverse-field run easily becoming the signature moment of his career.
Forty-nine points by the 49ers. Perfect, right? And so too was Young's record six touchdown passes against San Diego, breaking by one the Super Bowl record held by the legend he struggled to replace in San Francisco, Joe Montana. Young shredded the Chargers for 325 yards passing and led the 49ers with 49 yards rushing, earning his one and only Super Bowl ring.
Montana became the Super Bowl's greatest single performer ever, claiming his unprecedented third MVP honor in a 55-10 rout of Denver. He threw for what was then a game-record five touchdown passes, as he led San Francisco to its fourth title in a nine-year span. The 49ers were machine-like, scoring two touchdowns in each of the four quarters.