Revisiting Arizona’s Super Bowl History Ahead Of 2023’s Big Game

Written By Jarrett Huff on February 10, 2023
Arizona through the years in the Super Bowl

State Farm Stadium is no stranger to the Super Bowl, as Sunday will be the third time it hosted the big game since it opened back in 2006. Arizona’s warmer climate, in the typically-cold month of February for most of the U.S., makes it an ideal venue for the most-watched annual event in sports.

Before the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles take to the turf for Super Bowl LVII, here’s a look back at Arizona’s history with the Super Bowl.

Jan. 28, 1996: Super Bowl XXX

In a time before State Farm Stadium, Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium hosted Super Bowl XXX on Jan. 28, 1996, a game that featured the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.

For the Cowboys, it was the team’s third Super Bowl in four seasons; the franchise’s fifth overall. For the Steelers, it was their first Super Bowl appearance since 1980’s Super Bowl XIV, when the franchise won its fourth.

In the first quarter, Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders made Super Bowl history by becoming the first and only player in Super Bowl history to record an interception on defense and a reception on offense. Sanders’ interception came a year earlier as a member of the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX.

In the fourth quarter the Steelers successfully recovered the football due to a surprise onside kick at their own 47-yard line. Steelers quarterback Neil O’Donnell would march Pittsburgh down the field and set up an 1-yard touchdown run for running back Bam Morris, making it a 20-17 game.

Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith’s touchdown would give Dallas a 27-17 victory. Cornerback Larry Brown would win the game’s MVP after recording two interceptions and quarterback Troy Aikman would become the third quarterback to win three Super Bowls.

For the first time ever, the Vince Lombardi Trophy was presented to the team on field. This is the last Super Bowl the Cowboys played in as of 2023.

Feb. 3, 2008: Super Bowl XLII

State Farm Stadium held the Super Bowl for the first time, then-named University of Phoenix Stadium, on Feb. 3, 2008, hosting the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Up until the Super Bowl, the Patriots hadn’t lost a game all season, and were 12-point favorites. At 10-6, the Giants were looking to become the first NFC wild card team to win a Super Bowl.

This game went on to become one of the largest upsets in professional sports, and an instant Super Bowl classic. The game is best remembered for the fourth quarter, as the Giants attempted a comeback down 14-10 with 2:39 left in the game. Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss had just caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady, giving the Patriots the lead.

On third down, the Giants gave the NFL one of its most-iconic moments with the “Helmet Catch.” Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a pass after escaping pressure to wide receiver David Tyree, who managed to secure the ball off a one-handed catch using the top of his helmet to give New York a 32-yard first down.

Manning would find wide receiver Plaxico Burress for a 13-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining, leading to a 17-14 Giants lead. The Giants didn’t allow the Patriots to advance the ball in the time remaining, sealing the Giants’ third Super Bowl victory. Manning would go on to be named the game’s MVP.

Feb. 1, 2009: Super Bowl XLIII

While not taking place in Arizona, the Arizona Cardinals played in Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, 2009 against the Steelers.

The Cardinals advanced to the Super Bowl after winning the franchise’s first NFC Championship. They were looking to end the league’s longest championship drought, which extended back to 1947. For the Steelers, it was their first Super Bowl since their win in 2006’s Super Bowl XL.

The game featured Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s Super Bowl-record-100-yard interception return for a touchdown. The touchdown gave Pittsburgh a 17-7 halftime lead.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Arizona trailed 20-7 before going on an unanswered 16-point run. Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner led Arizona on an 87-yard drive, culminating in a touchdown from wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Later on, Cardinals punter Ben Graham’s 34-yard boot would pin Pittsburgh at the 1-yard line. Steelers center Justin Hartwig committed a costly holding penalty that nullified a 20-yard completion from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and granted the Cardinals a safety. Warner would find Fitzgerald for a 64-yard touchdown three plays later , giving Arizona its first lead of the game, 23-20, with under three minutes to go.

Roethlisberger took the Steelers downfield in the final minutes, with wide receiver Santonio Holmes recording a 40-yard pass at Arizona’s 6-yard line. Roethlisberger found Holmes again in the back corner of the endzone for a two-toes-down touchdown. An extra-point conversion gave the Steelers a 27-23 lead with 35 seconds remaining.

Warner managed to get the Cardinals to the Steelers’ 44-yard line, setting up a Hail Mary pass attempt. Warner was sacked during the play by Steeler linebacker LaMarr Woodley, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Pittsburgh with five seconds remaining.

One kneel down gave Pittsburgh its sixth Super Bowl victory, making it the first NFL franchise to do so. Holmes was named the game’s MVP, with nine receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. Four of those receptions for 73 yards came during the game-winning drive.

Feb. 1, 2015: Super Bowl XLIX

Super Bowl XLIX brought the big game back to State Farm Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015, with the Patriots facing the Seattle Seahawks.

Brady and the Patriots were attempting to end a 10-year title drought extending back to 2005’s Super Bowl XXXIX. The Seahawks were looking to win their second consecutive Super Bowl after their victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. Had they won, Seattle would’ve become the first team to repeat since the 2004 Patriots.

The game was a one-possession contest until Seattle took a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Brady would lead the Patriots to 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola. The drive was notable for patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman sustaining a concussion and remaining in the game despite displaying visible symptoms of a head injury. The next Patriots drive culminated in Brady finding Edelman for a 3-yard touchdown pass, giving New England a 28-24 lead with 2:02 remaining.

Seattle’s next drive began with a 31-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson would later find wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 33-yard reception, who was covered by Patriots rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler deflected the pass, which then Kearse tipped to himself and caught with his back on the ground. Butler recovered to push Kearse out of bounds.

Seattle, now on New England’s 5-yard line with 1:05 to go, gave the ball to Lynch for a 4-yard gain. Seattle attempted a pass play at the 1-yard line, as Wilson attempted a pass to wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Butler read the play and intercepted the ball at the goal line, giving New England the ball back with 20 seconds remaining.

A few kneel downs, a safety and a couple Seattle penalties gave the Patriots the 28-26 win. Brady became the third quarterback in NFL history with four Super Bowls and tied Joe Montana with his third Super Bowl MVP. Seattle’s final play has been heavily criticized by media, fans and players alike ever since.

What can we expect this year?

Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles kicks off at 4:30 p.m. MST. It’s the first Super Bowl since the legalization of Arizona sports betting, which provides another way for fans to get involved in the festivities.

Fans looking to open up sports betting accounts have plenty of incentives to do so. Arizona sportsbooks are offering more than $7,200 in Super Bowl betting bonuses and promotions.

Photo by AP Photo / Michael S. Green
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Jarrett Huff

Jarrett Huff is a former sports editor at Northern Star Media from Wonder Lake, Illinois. Friends and family will tell you he's an NBA history nerd with a diehard passion for the Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs.

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