Takin’ It to the House: The Longest Plays in Super Bowl History
Football games can turn on a dime.
One of the most appealing things about the sport is that a team can be innocently toiling on its own 10-yard line, only to rattle off a 90-yard play for a score. You never know when it will happen. So during big games, fans are at the edge of their seats the entire time.
And with no games bigger than the Super Bowl, the longest plays in Super Bowl history are etched in stone to be remembered forever. And if any have been forgotten due to the sands of time, we’re here to remind you.
Here are the longest plays in the game over the course of NFL history.
Longest Touchdown Pass: Jake Delhomme 85 yards to Muhsin Muhammad on Feb. 1, 2004
The last three minutes of the New England Patriots’ 32-29 Super Bowl XXXVIII win over the Carolina Panthers were a fitting end to a thrilling Super Bowl. There were three scores, including the game-winning 41-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with four seconds left.
But it was earlier in the fourth quarter that Delhomme and Muhammad made history. Muhammad burned defensive back Eugene Wilson easily, and Delhomme found him for the longest pass in Super Bowl history that gave the Panthers a short-lived 22-21 lead. The touchdown throw was part of a concerted attempt by Delhomme to go downfield for most of the game. He finished the game with a 48.5 completion percentage, but he threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Muhammad also caught a touchdown pass in his other Super Bowl appearance, a 29-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 as a member of the Chicago Bears. It makes him one of 30 players with multiple touchdown catches in the Super Bowl.
Muhammad’s catch broke the record that had been achieved just seven years earlier, also against the Patriots. In Super Bowl XXXI, Antonio Freeman caught an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre in the Green Bay Packers’ 35-21 win over the Patriots.
It was a game of big plays for the Packers, as Favre had another 54-yard touchdown pass to Andre Rison earlier in the game and the special teams had another play that might show up later on this list. And since the Packers won, Freeman’s catch is still the longest in a Super Bowl victory.
Longest Rush: Willie Parker, 75 yards, on Feb. 5, 2006
Parker’s touchdown run in Super Bowl XL is the definition of “It only takes one.”
On his nine other runs on the day, Parker ran for just 18 yards, and his lone catch was a 1-yard reception. But on the second play from scrimmage in the second half, Parker burst through a hole on the right side and took it 75 yards for the score.
The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately needed it too, as Ben Roethlisberger struggled for most of the day, and the team was clinging to a 7-3 halftime lead over the Seattle Seahawks. Roethlisberger completed just 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
But the big run from Parker and a trick play touchdown pass from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward was enough offense for the Steelers to pull out a 21-10 win.
Parker’s run bested the previous longest rush in the Super Bowl by a measly 1 yard. Marcus Allen ran for a 74-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XVIII for the Los Angeles Raiders in a blowout win over Washington. Allen had the much better game, rushing for 191 yards and two scores on the way to Super Bowl MVP honors. He was so dominant that he rushed for more yards than his quarterback threw for as Jim Plunkett completed 16 of 25 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown. It was the Raiders’ last Super Bowl in Los Angeles before returning as the Oakland Raiders at the end of the 2002 season.
Longest Kickoff Return: Jacoby Jones, 108 yards, on Feb. 3, 2013
Jones had a lights-out return. Literally.
Jones took the opening kick of the second half 108 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers, and shortly after, the Superdome in New Orleans experienced an electrical failure that caused a delay.
It looked at the time like Jones’s return was the cherry on top of a dominant victory for the Baltimore Ravens, but it ended up being a huge play in determining the outcome. It gave the Ravens a 28-6 lead, but after the blackout, the 49ers scored three touchdowns and cut the 49ers lead to two points.
But a Justin Tucker field goal and ensuing defensive stand from the 5-yard line propelled the Ravens to a 34-31 victory. And it was a victory that might not have been possible without the longest return touchdown in Super Bowl history.
We mentioned how the Packers would be heard from again on this list, and that’s with the second-longest kick return in Super Bowl history. Antonio Freeman’s 81-yard touchdown reception wasn’t even the longest of the day for the Packers in their 35-21 win over the Patriots. After New England made it a one-score game in the third quarter, Desmond Howard returned an Adam Vinatieri kick 99 yards for a touchdown, and the two-point conversion that followed was the final score of the game. Howard was named the game’s MVP for his effort.
Longest Punt Return: Kadarius Toney, 65 Yards, on Feb. 12, 2023
Toney’s record-setting return off a 38-yard punt by Arryn Siposs of the Philadelphia Eagles set up Patrick Mahomes’ 4-yard touchdown pass to Skyy Moore that gave the Kansas City Chiefs a 35-27 lead in Super Bowl 57.
But that was only part of Toney’s impact on Kansas City’s second title in four years. In the Chiefs’ previous drive, Toney caught a 5-yard scoring strike from the eventual Super Bowl MVP after Kansas City had trailed 27-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
Not bad for a guy who was acquired from the New York Giants for third- and sixth-round draft picks earlier in the 2022 season.
Longest Interception Return: James Harrison, 100 yards, on Feb. 1, 2009
An iconic Super Bowl moment also happens to be the longest defensive return in Super Bowl history.
Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals were driving down the field before halftime and had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. He saw Anquan Boldin over the middle for a potential touchdown and threw it to the sure-handed receiver. What he didn’t see was Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison cutting in front of Boldin.
The interception was just the start for Harrison, who navigated seemingly the entire Cardinals offense before rumbling into the end zone. Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald almost brought Harrison down, but the linebacker managed to stay up long enough to cross the plane as time expired and give the Steelers a 17-7 lead.
The Cardinals would come back and take the lead, but a Ben Roethlisberger pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes just inside the sideline of the end zone with 46 seconds left gave Pittsburgh the title in Super Bowl XLIII.
Roethlisberger has had the fortune of being the quarterback for a team that had the longest rush and longest defensive return in Super Bowl history. To his credit, he played much better in this Super Bowl than against the Seahawks in Detroit, throwing for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But it all might have been for naught if not for Harrison’s effort to end the first half.
The second-longest defensive return in Super Bowl history was an 82-yard touchdown by Robert Alford of the Atlanta Falcons against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Alford’s interception of Tom Brady gave the Falcons a 21-0 lead, that, as you probably know, would turn into a 28-3 lead later. The Patriots, of course, would pull off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history with a 34-28 win in overtime. It’s a shame that, even when celebrating a play in the record books, Falcons fans have to be reminded of what might have been.
Longest Field Goal: Steve Christie, 54 Yards, on Jan. 30, 1994
Christie provided the Buffalo Bills with one of their few highlights when he tied the game at 3-3 in the first quarter.
This would end up being the Bills’ fourth straight Super Bowl loss as the AFC champs fell 30-13 to the Dallas Cowboys.
Longest Punt: Johnny Hekker, 65 Yards, on Feb. 3, 2019
It’s somewhat fitting that Hekker set the record for the longest punt in one of the worst offensive Super Bowls of all time. There were a combined 14 punts in the contest, and Hekker’s 65-yard blast from the Los Angeles Rams’ 6-yard line put Brady and the Patriots back at their own 29.
The Rams would get the ball back four plays later, but ended up losing the defensive struggle 13-3. It was Brady’s last Super Bowl with the Pats before moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.