A Brief History Of Penn Staters In The Super Bowl
A pair of Penn Staters will square off this weekend when Chris Hogan’s New England Patriots and Stefen Wisniewski’s Philadelphia Eagles meet in the Super Bowl.
Although Hogan took the road less traveled by to the NFL, by way of Penn State lacrosse and Monmouth football, he could become just the 11th Penn Stater with multiple Super Bowl rings this weekend, while Wisniewski (and the Eagles) is vying for his first title.
We looked back at some of the top Super Bowl performances by Penn Staters.
Any list of all-time great Super Bowl heroes would be incomplete without Pittsburgh Steelers halfback Franco Harris.
Harris won four Super Bowls in six years with the Steelers, running for a combined 354 yards and scoring four touchdowns combined. Although Harris was an annual centerpiece of one of the sport’s best dynasties, his best performance came in Super Bowl IX. He ran for a Super Bowl-record 158 yards and one touchdown to guide the Steelers to a 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Four years later, he turned in another big day, gaining 112 all-purpose yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns, this time to help the Steelers pull out a 35-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.
Also on those great Pittsburgh Steelers teams was Jack Ham, who played on the opposite side of the ball at linebacker. Ham’s Steel Curtain defenses allowed 18.3 points per game in Pittsburgh’s remarkable run of four Super Bowls in six years.
It’s not every day a fullback makes a dent in the stat sheet during the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XX, fullback Matt Suhey logged 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground and set up another touchdown for the Chicago Bears with a 24-yard reception. Mike Ditka’s legendary defense held up on the other side of the football, as Da Bears easily defeated the Patriots 46-10.
At Penn State, Suhey did more of the same, running for 2,818 yards and 28 touchdowns in four seasons under Joe Paterno.
Scott Norwood wasn’t the only kicker to heavily influence the outcome of Super Bowl XXV. New York Giants kicker Matt Bahr scored eight of his team’s 20 points. He made two field goals and two extra points, including the game-winner from 21 yards out midway through the fourth quarter, helping the Giants to a dramatic 20-19 win, the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the Bills.
Matt Millen had the Midas Touch during his NFL playing career. His career in the front office was a different story.
In 12 years, Millen won four Super Bowls with three different teams, twice with the Raiders, once with the 49ers, and once with the Redskins. He never did much in any of the games, but Millen retired following the Redskins’ Super Bowl XXVI with as many championships as Harris, Ham, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, and Adam Vinatieri.
Jay Alford didn’t do much all night in the Giants’ epic upset over the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, but he made what he did count. Alford sacked Tom Brady on second down of New England’s last ditch effort drive following Plaice Burress’ dramatic, go-ahead touchdown. The rookie defensive tackle’s sack set up a long third down and 20 for the Patriots, who ended the game with two incompletions by Brady.
During his time at Penn State, Alford developed a knack for tackling players behind the line of scrimmage. He had 26 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in his final two seasons.
Like Alford, Norwood didn’t do much in his Super Bowl, but made his limited production meaningful. Norwood set the record for the longest punt return in Super Bowl history with a 61-yard return in the first quarter that set up a Brandon McManus field goal. Norwood didn’t do anything else the rest of the game and the Denver Broncos cruised to a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.