This week, SB Nation sites are recalling the best Super Bowl moment for their franchise. For the Chicago Bears, it was Devin Hester’s kickoff return to start Super Bowl XLI. For the Saints, it was Tracy Porter’s iconic interception off of Peyton Manning. For the Patriots, it was probably one of a billion different moments.
It’s a particularly painful topic for us Detroit Lions fans. We have no memories to draw upon. No game-defining moments or even any individual plays to reminisce about. When your team has never played in a Super Bowl, there isn’t really a “best” Super Bowl moment.
However, let’s not be so lazy. Let’s consider this question thoroughly. What moment in Super Bowl history was the most pleasurable for Lions fans? One easy way to look at this question is to get some satisfaction from a particularly painful loss from one of our rivals.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of back-breaking moments like that. The Vikings are 0-4 in Super Bowls, but they lost each one by at least two scores and the last one was way back in 1977. The Bears are 1-1, but, again, their loss to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI didn’t produce the right amount of schadenfreude for Lions fans.
The Packers are 4-1 in Super Bowls, their only loss coming in 1997 in a fairly competitive game against the Broncos. Denver ended up scoring the game-winning touchdown with under two minutes left, but there’s just no game-defining play that was especially painful. No pick six. No Brett Favre NFC Championship-like interception. Nothing for Lions fans to get very excited about.
So has there ever been any joy for a Lions fan in a Super Bowl contest? Well, let’s dig a little deeper. What should make a Detroit Lions fan happy, outside of success for the team?
Detroit Lions fans should embrace chaos as their favorite possible outcome. Chaos means the status quo is being ripped apart and no result is less likely than another. Chaos means that long-held dynasties could be at risk of toppling, while the underdogs are given their fair shot. In short, a chaotic NFL is one the Lions could theoretically thrive in.
What moment in Super Bowl history is the most chaotic? The toppling of the 16-0 New England Patriots, of course.
The New York Giants were anything but a behemoth during the 2007 season. They finished with a respectable 10-6 record, good enough for the NFC’s five-seed, but hardly looked as competitive as the Packers and Cowboys in the conference. They even stumbled down the stretch, losing three of their final six games, including the season finale against the New England Patriots—the NFL’s final shot at preventing an undefeated season for the Patriots.
But the Giants caught fire in the playoffs and took down both the Cowboys and Packers on their own home fields, leading to a rematch with the Patriots for Super Bowl XLII.
The game was low-scoring and back-and-forth. But as we all have grown accustomed to now, the Patriots dealt a late blow in the game, scoring a touchdown with 2:42 remaining to take a 14-10 lead.
We all know what happened next. Facing a crucial third-and-5, Eli Manning freed himself from a sure sack and David Tyree made a catch that would be the only defining moment in his NFL career.
It was improbable. It was unbelievable, and it took down the unstoppable New England Patriots. For a moment, anything was possible. Maybe this Patriots dynasty would end. Maybe the Detroit Lions could turn things around quickly.
Of course, the very next year the Lions would “Reverse Patriots” and go 0-16, and New England has gone on to win two more Super Bowls since, but for one unbelievable moment, the Giants gave everyone else in the NFL hope. And that’s why it’s the Lions’ greatest moment in Super Bowl history.