Santonio Holmes stole the show in last year’s Super Bowl, here’s a look at more notable Buckeye performances in the Big Game
When former Buckeye Santonio Holmes (2003-05) hauled in the winning touchdown pass to seal the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII victory and held the MVP trophy heroically above his head, he continued a history of Ohio State success on the game’s grandest stage.
That history dates back more than 40 years, beginning in Super Bowl III. Although New York’s “Broadway” Joe Namath stole the show ultimately guiding the Jets to his predicted victory, it was a pair of past Buckeye running backs – New York’s Matt Snell (1961-63)and Baltimore’s Tom Matte (1958-60), both former Buckeyes – who each topped 100 yards rushing and controlled most of the game that day in Miami’s Orange Bowl.
When the Super Bowl truly started to gain notoriety in the 70s, more than a few notable Buckeyes played their part.
Hall of famer Paul Warfield (1961-63) was the leading receiver for Miami in Super Bowls VI, VII and VIII. Warfield’s Dolphins knocked off fellow former Buckeye Jim Marshall (1957-58) and Minnesota in Super Bowl VIII. It was the second of four Super Bowls the all-pro defensive lineman started for the Vikings. Unfortunately, all four were losses, including Super Bowl XI as the Buckeye DB tandem of Jack Tatum (1968-70) and Neal Colzie (1972-74) of Oakland teamed up to hand Marshall and Minnesota its fourth and final Super Bowl defeat.
Paul Warfield (42) was Miami’s leading receiver in Super Bowls VI, VII and VIII
The only two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin helped usher in the decade of the 80s as he and former Buckeye backfield mate Pete Johnson and brother Ray Griffin charged Cincinnati into Super Bowl XVI vs. San Francisco. The trio, however, dropped a tight 26-21 decision to the 49ers.
In 1985, Mike Tomczack and Shaun Gayle – in reserve roles – helped shuffle the Chicago Bears past New England in Super Bowl XX, while the next season Pepper Johnson and William Roberts scored their first of two championship rings with the Giants in a Super XXI triumph over Denver. The duo also helped NY drop Buffalo in Super Bowl XV, two years after former Buckeye tight end John Frank landed a Super Bowl ring catching passes from Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXIII.
The 90s showcased more Ohio State standouts vying for the Vince Lombardi trophy as Jim Lachey paved the way for a 400-plus yard offensive output by the Redskins in a Super Bowl XXVI trouncing of Buffalo. Another trio of Buckeyes reached Super Bowl XXXI with New England, but the pass-catching combo of Keith Byars and Terry Glenn along with punter Tom Tupa could not outduel Brett Favre and the Packers.
The decade closed with Buckeye teammates clashing in Super Bowl XXXIV. All-pro tackle Orlando Pace made a name for himself in the college landscape paving the way for 1995 Heisman trophy winner Eddie George. Now the two faced off in a championship game pitting two recently relocated teams – George with Tennessee and Pace with St. Louis. Although George gained 95 yards on the ground and scored a pair of TDs, in the end Pace came up a yard ahead as the Rams stopped the Titans short of the goal line on the last play of the game.
Prior to Holmes’ heroics in 2009, the 00s belonged to past Buckeye linebacker Mike Vrabel, who not only walked away with three rings in four tries but also moonlighted on the offensive side of the ball, pulling in a pair of goal line TDs tosses in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.
Tonight, former Ohio State defensive stoppers look to halt Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV. All-American Buckeyes Will Smith, a Pro Bowl defensive end, and Malcolm Jenkins, a rookie DB, have their sights set on Payton Manning and the Colts, who are minus one of Manning’s go-to receivers from 2009 in former Buckeye Anthony Gonzalez.
Smith and Jenkins are no strangers to title games. Smith won the 2002 collegiate crown with the Buckeyes while Jenkins played in both the 2007 and ’08 BCS title games.
What will the pair do on this championship stage?