This is part of a five-part series by Victory Bell Rings on the ten greatest performances by Penn State players in Super Bowl history. You can catch up by following the links below.
2. Matt Bahr – Kicker, 1991, New York Giants: Super Bowl XXV between the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants was played at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, FL. New York won 20-19, the only Super Bowl ever to be decided by one point. The game is remembered historically for two reasons: 1) Whitney Houston’s rendition of the national anthem, which went on to be a top 20 hit and 2) Scott Norwood, wide right. Running back Ottis Anderson, who ran for 102 yards and a touchdown, was named MVP.
Matt Bahr, drafted in the 6th round (165th overall) in the 1979 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, played 17 seasons in the NFL. Although we mentioned the Bahr Brothers in the honorable mention section, Matt deserves a spot on his own on our top ten performances list. In the closest Super Bowl in history, Matt went 2-2 on PAT attempts and a perfect 2-2 on field goal attempts, including what proved to be the game winner. Worth noting in the NFC Championship game, Bahr went 5-5 including the game winner as time expired to get the Giants to the Super Bowl in a 15-13 victory.
Bahr deserves the #2 spot on the list because of his clutch kicking and impact on the game. He started the game by kicking off to the Bills and making the tackle on the opening kickoff play. He started the scoring with a 28-yard field goal on the Giants first possession. After his team fell behind, he made both extra points to help give New York the lead17-12 going into the fourth quarter.
Buffalo quickly scored to take a 19-17 lead with 14:52 left in the game. When New York got the ball back, they drove the field behind Anderson and quarterback Jeff Hostetler. The 14-play, 74 yard drive stalled at the Buffalo three yard line when Hostetler’s pass was battled down incomplete. Bahr came on to the field and kicked a 21 yard field goal with 7:20 left in the game, making the score 20-19 New York. Buffalo was unable to cross midfield on their next possession, and their final possession ended when Norwood missed a 47 yard field goal attempt with four seconds left; the first of four consecutive Super Bowl defeats for the Bills.
1. Franco Harris – Running Back, 1975, Pittsburgh Steelers: Super Bowl IX was played between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, LA. Pittsburgh won 16-6 in a defensive struggle between the Steel Curtain and the Purple People Eaters. Proud Penn Stater Franco Harris rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown, good enough to earn him game MVP honors and #1 on our all-time list.
Franco Harris, drafted in the 1st round (13th overall) in the 1972 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl Champion. Harris was a horse in this game, carrying the ball 34 times for 158 yards and a touchdown. The game was, as advertised, a battle of two of the best defenses in the NFL and it showed. Neither team could get their offense going in the first half; the score was 2-0 Pittsburgh at the midway point. Harris was bottled up early, gaining only nine yards on his first four carries. Finally late in the first quarter Harris broke loose for 14 yards, and helped get the Steelers into field goal position, but they fumbled the snap and did not convert.
The teams continued to beat each other up in the 2nd quarter, and before breaking off a 25 yarder with under a minute left, Harris had 10 carries for only 22 yards. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Harris started the second half running the same way he ended the first, going for 24 yards off left tackle on his first carry. Another Harris run to the right, and a nine yard sweep to the left gave Pittsburgh its first touchdown and a 9-0 lead it would never relinquish.
When Pittsburgh got the ball back with 11:16 left in the third quarter, they seemed determined to ride their young fullback to the victory line. 20 times in the next 35 plays, Harris was handed the ball behind the line of scrimmage. He gained 67 yards, but also fumbled twice, losing the ball once in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh picked him up as Mean Joe Greene recovered a fumble at the three yard line to prevent the Vikings from scoring. By pounding the ball with Harris and Rocky Bleier, Pittsburgh was able to gain yards and take time off the clock before finally scoring with 3:31 left in the game to make it 16-6. Harris was named MVP of his first Super Bowl, the first of four in his illustrious career. Not even Louis Freeh can take that away from him.
Thank you for following our list of top ten PSU performances in Super Bowl history! I saved the Excel file with all the winning players and their statistics that I used to create this list and article. If you are interested, feel free to download it here.
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