Today’s wide receivers are often referred to as the “divas” of football, who are high-maintenance glamour boys that demand the spotlight. The Super Bowl is the ultimate game and the biggest stage a receiver could earn his shine. In looking back at the most celebrated position in the big game, the quarterback is by far the most valued commodity. However, there have been six occasions where the MVP trophy has actually gone to a wideout.
Of the 47 Super Bowls played, 38 players have eclipsed the 100-plus yard receiving mark. But to earn a spot on our top five greatest list, you have to have a little extra on your championship resume. With that said here are my top five greatest performances in a Super Bowl by a wide receiver.
1. Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (Super BowlXXIX): The G.O.A.T. was a virtual touchdown machine in Super Bowls. Against the San Diego Chargers, Rice posted 10 receptions for 149 yards with three touchdowns (marking the second time he scored three times in a Super Bowl) in the 49ers' 49-26 win. Rice wasted little time, scoring on a 44-yard pass from Steve Young three plays into the game. His other scores came on catches of 15 and 7 yards.
2. Jerry Rice, San Francisco (Super BowlXXIV): Rice and the Niners torched John Elway and the Denver Broncos 55-10 to capture a franchise fourth Super Bowl championship. And while it was Joe Montana who took home the MVP hardware with his 297-yard, five-touchdown performance, Rice also made his claim for the award with seven receptions, 148 yards and three trips to the end zone. The future Hall of Fame wide receiver scored on catches of 20, 38 and 28 yards.
3. Ricky Sanders, Washington (Super Bowl XXII): Rice would have owned the top three performances in a Super Bowl among all receivers had it not been for Sanders' impressive performance in a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos. The second-year wideout hauled in nine receptions for a record 193 yards, and scored two touchdowns. Sanders averaged an incredible 21.4 yards per reception and found the end zone on long downfield strikes of 80 and 50 yards from MVP Doug Williams.
4. Jerry Rice, San Francisco (Super Bowl XXIII): Notice a trend? Even with a bum ankle, the greatness of Rice emerged as he shredded the Cincinnati Bengals secondary in an excitement-filled 20-16 win. He recorded a total of 11 receptions and broke Sanders' Super Bowl record with 215 receiving yards. Rice found the end zone once on a 14-yard pass from Joe Montana.
5. Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh (Super Bowl X): If style points were an actual statistic, Swann may have the No. 1 overall greatest Super Bowl performance by a receiver. He made some of the most acrobatic catches ever seen on a football field in the Steelers' 21-17 win over Dallas. He would record four receptions and set a then-Super Bowl record with 161 yards. His only score however came on a 64-yard strike from Terry Bradshaw. The win was the Steelers' second consecutive championship. Swann was the very first wideout to earn MVP honors.