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A trip down Super Bowl memory lane
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In a few hours, the Big Easy will be home to the biggest spectacle in sports.

What will Ray Lewis' pre-game speech be like? How will Jack and Jackie Harbaugh react when one of their sons wins (and loses) the Super Bowl? Will Beyonce be lip-synching or singing live at the halftime show?

All of these questions that we've had two weeks to stew over will soon be answered.

Sunday's game, the tenth Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans, has all the makings of a classic. And speaking of classics, I thought this would be a good time to look back at some of the greatest fantasy performances in Super Bowl history.

The first 46 Super Bowls have given us a treasure chest of incredible moments so narrowing this list down to ten wasn't an easy exercise.

In honor of the big day, we'll count down using Roman numerals instead of regular numbers. Drum roll, please.

X. Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXVIII: You probably remember Smith from the third season of Dancing with the Stars. But long before his dancing career got underway, Smith was arguably the league's most dynamic running back. The NFL's all-time rushing yards leader trampled Buffalo for 132 yards on the ground and two touchdowns as Dallas captured its second title in as many seasons. Smith was honored after the game with his first and only Super Bowl MVP award.

IX. Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXVII: This wouldn't be much of a list if we didn't have Aikman on here at least once. The six-time Pro Bowler checks in at No. 9 thanks to his brilliant performance against the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII (22-for-30, four TD, no INT, 273 yards). To this day, only two quarterbacks in Super Bowl history have thrown for more touchdowns in a single game. You'll see the two players I'm talking about further down on this list.

VIII. Ricky Sanders, Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII: One of two Redskins on this list, Sanders was on the receiving end of an 80-yard score thrown by quarterback Doug Williams, the first black starting quarterback to appear in the Super Bowl. That catch stood as the longest reception in Super Bowl history until Antonio Freeman bested Sanders (nine catches, 193 yards, two TD) by a yard in Super Bowl XXXI. Carolina's Muhsin Muhammad broke the record again seven years later with an 85-yarder against New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

VII. Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIV: The Niners captured their second Super Bowl in as many seasons in 1990, throttling the John Elway- led Denver Broncos by a score of 55-10 (that's still the most lopsided result in Super Bowl history). Rice was responsible for three of San Francisco's Super Bowl record eight touchdowns in the game, reeling in seven catches for a final total of 148 yards. Much like Super Bowl XLVII, this game was also played at the New Orleans Superdome.

VI. Timmy Smith, Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII: You won't find Smith in the Hall of Fame or on many best-of lists (except for this one, I guess). In fact, Smith only appeared in 22 games over three NFL seasons. Luckily for the Redskins, he saved his best performance for Super Bowl XXII. In his first NFL start, Smith delivered the performance of a lifetime, scrambling for two touchdowns and a Super Bowl record 204 yards rushing in a win over the Broncos. How's that for a one-hit wonder?

V. Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders, Super Bowl XVIII: Before Smith came out of nowhere for 200+ yards in 1988, Allen was the Super Bowl's single-game rushing leader. His 191 yards and two touchdowns in 1984 carried the black and silver to a 38-9 win over the Redskins, who had been favored by three points prior to the game. The victory is still the city of Los Angeles' only Super Bowl triumph.

IV. Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIV: Montana was already on his way to the Hall of Fame before 1990's Super Bowl win against Denver. But this game made him a legend. Montana connected on five touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXIV with three of those scores falling into the hands of Jerry Rice. Montana's 147.6 QB rating for this game is still the second-highest rating in Super Bowl history.

III. Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXXII: John Elway finally won his first Super Bowl in 1998 after swinging and missing three times earlier in his career. But this game wasn't about Elway. The real hero of Super Bowl XXXII was Terrell Davis. The Broncos third-year running back burst onto the scene with three touchdowns and 157 yards on 30 carries. To this day, Davis remains the only player to rush for three touchdowns in a single Super Bowl.

II. Rice, Super Bowl XXIX: Rice holds just about every Super Bowl receiving record you could think of. Most yards? Check (589 in four games). Most catches? Check (33). Most touchdowns? Check (eight). Three of those record eight touchdown grabs came in Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers. Rice (10 receptions, 149 yards) is one of just two receivers to reel in 10 or more catches in two different Super Bowls. The other is Patriots wideout Deion Branch.

I. Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX: Young's mammoth effort in Super Bowl XXIX is hands down the best we've seen in the Super Bowl's 47 years of existence. Young picked apart the Chargers for six touchdowns and 325 yards without committing a turnover. He even found the time to rush for 49 yards on five carries. That's the kind of performance that gets you an invite to Canton at the end of your career.

And since you asked (you did ask me, right?), I'm going Niners, 28-24 with Colin Kaepernick winning the Super Bowl MVP award. Though I will admit, I am a little curious to see if Ray Lewis would actually ascend into Heaven if the Ravens pulled off the upset.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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