Big 12: Timmy Smith

Big 12's most memorable Super Bowl moments

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
3:27
PM ET
My frame of a collective sports memory reaches back as long as the Super Bowl has been played.

I can distinctly remember the cold, snowy day (for me) from Super Bowl I on Jan. 15, 1967, at our home in Indiana. I was 7 years old, but I knew it was something big because the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers was being shown on two television networks at the same time. There was more snow as we tried to adjust our rabbit ears on the television set for a better picture.

Since then, I've been able to watch almost all of the Super Bowls. There might have been one I missed because I had to work for a friend who was getting married that day. But I have seen and digested almost every play of every Super Bowl over the years.

With my narrow frame of the Big 12 conference, it got me thinking earlier this week about which performances in the history of the NFL's biggest game have been the most memorable or most infamous that involved alumni of the conference's schools.

Here is what I came up with.

1. Mike Jones, St. Louis linebacker (Missouri): His stop of Tennessee's Kevin Dyson only inches short of the goal line on the game's final play preserved the Rams' 23-16 triumph over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. It is one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. Heck, it was one of the most memorable in NFL history.

2. Timmy Smith, Washington Redskins running back (Texas Tech): He erupted for a Super Bowl record 204 rushing yards on 22 carries, including runs of 58 and 43 yards, to key the Redskins' 42-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXII.

3. John Riggins, Washington running back (Kansas): Rushed for 166 yards on a Super Bowl-record 38 carries to power the Redskins to a 27-17 victory over Miami in Super Bowl XVII. Riggins gave the Redskins the lead for good on a 43-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-1 blast early in the fourth quarter, wrapping up an MVP performance that remains the only one earned by a player from a Big 12 school.

4. Roger Craig, San Francisco running back (Nebraska): Craig was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams with the 49ers and had several strong performances. But his biggest was a three-touchdown effort against Miami in Super Bowl XIX. Craig ran for 58 yards and a touchdown and also snagged a team-high seven receptions for 77 yards and two scores to pace the 49ers to a 38-16 victory.

5. Wes Welker, New England wide receiver (Texas Tech): Welker's team dropped a disappointing 17-14 game to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, but it wasn't because of his lack of effort. Welker matched the Super Bowl record with 11 receptions for 103 yards, but it still wasn't enough to lead his team to victory.

But as strong as those efforts were, other players from Big 12 schools didn't fare nearly as well in their Super Bowl moments. Here are the five most infamous moments or performances from a Big 12 player in Super Bowl history.

1. Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State) loses his helmet: The College and Pro Football Hall of Famer had one of the most notorious moments of his career when he lost his helmet at the start of Super Bowl XXVI against Washington. Typically, Thomas placed his helmet at the 40-yard-line before a game, but it was moved in order for a stage to be set up for Harry Connick Jr.'s rendition of the national anthem before the game. He scrambled to find his helmet, causing him to miss Buffalo's first two plays from scrimmage. It was the start of a miserable performance in which he rushed for only 13 yards on 10 carries in a 37-24 loss to the Redskins.

2. Jack Pardee's (Texas A&M) long ride on Larry Csonka's back: The veteran Washington linebacker was hoisted for nearly 30 yards by Miami fullback Larry Csonka on a pivotal 49-yard run in Super Bowl VI. The play has been replayed in countless NFL Films showings over the years as emblematic of the Dolphins' domination in the 14-7 victory. Even worse, it was the final game of Pardee's proud 15-season career.

3. Justin Hartwig’s (Kansas) holding call in the end zone almost cost the Steelers: Pittsburgh was poised to ice its Super Bowl XLIII victory after Ben Roethlisberger's 19-yard pass got them out of a third-and-10 hole from their own 1-yard line late in the game against Arizona. But Hartwig was flagging for holding in the end zone on the play, leading to a safety that pulled the Cardinals within 20-16. Even worse, Arizona stormed back to take the lead two plays later when Kurt Warner hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald on a 64-yard TD pass.

Hartwig was saved from being one of the biggest goats in Super Bowl history when Roethlisberger marched the Steelers on a game-winning touchdown drive, capping it with a 6-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left. Otherwise, we would still be hearing about Hartwig’s bonehead play -- the only time an offensive lineman has been flagged for holding in the end zone in Super Bowl history.

4. Donny Anderson (Texas Tech) levels the "The Hammer": Before Super Bowl I, Kansas City defensive back Fred "The Hammer" Williamson vowed that he would knock out a Green Bay player with "his hammer," a well-placed forearm shiver. Instead, Green Bay running back Donny Anderson, a former Texas Tech player, caused a concussion for Williamson when his knee collided with Williamson's head early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl I. Williamson also suffered a broken arm on the play when his teammate, linebacker Sherrill Headrick, fell on top of him. The play has been immortalized by NFL Films for the reaction of Anderson's Green Bay teammates along the sidelines after it occurred.

5. Boyd Dowler's (Colorado) injury makes Max McGee's career: We never would have heard about McGee's pregame carousing before Super Bowl I if Dowler hadn't separated his shoulder early and been forced out of the game. McGee grabbed seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Packers to a 35-10 victory over Kansas City, becoming a wealthy man from his restaurant franchises and broadcasting career that capitalized on his one game of glory. Dowler didn't have a catch in the game.

The best NFL players for each Big 12 team

April, 22, 2009
4/22/09
4:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I got a lot of good feedback last week after I detailed a post that listed the top NFL player from each Big 12 school in the modern era.

ESPN Stats & Information went back through every draft of the modern era -- since the NFL-AFL merger -- to determine the players who accomplished the most during their NFL careers.

The rankings were based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on the ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors.

Specifically, this was the criteria that was used:

THE POINTS SYSTEM

Players received points based on the following criteria, coming up with rankings for the 13,808 NFL players who have played since 1967:

Super Bowl loss (1 point)
Offensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Defensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Pro Bowl (2 points)
Super Bowl win (3 points)
AP All-Pro second team (3 points)
AP All-Pro first team (4 points)
AP Defensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Offensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Most Valuable Player (8 points)
Hall of Famer (15 points)

After popular demand, here's how the formula calculated the five most valuable NFL players produced from each Big 12 school. I'm curious what some of your thoughts about these players and others might be.

Remember, this includes only players who were drafted. So free agents like Wes Welker were not included.

BAYLOR

Mike Singletary 81
Mike Nelms 22
Vann McElroy 10
Gary Green 8
Thomas Everett 8

COLORADO

Dick Anderson 30
Cliff Branch 29
Mark Haynes 23
Chad Brown 15
Charles Johnson 14
Alfred Williams 12

IOWA STATE

Matt Blair 18
Keith Sims 9
Marcus Robertson 5
Otto Stowe 4
Karl Nelson 3

KANSAS 

John Riggins 25
Dana Stubblefield 24
Nolan Cromwell 21
Leroy Irvin 15
Larry Brown 14

KANSAS STATE

Larry Brown 34
Martin Gramatica 8
Barrett Brooks 3
Clarence Scott 2
Henry Childs 2
Terence Newman 2

MISSOURI

Roger Wehrli 44
Kellen Winslow 40
Eric Wright 23
Russ Washington 16
Mel Gray 12

NEBRASKA

Will Shields 44
Roger Craig 30
Neil Smith 28
Irving Fryar 17
John Dutton 13

OKLAHOMA

Lee Roy Selmon 46
Keith Jackson 28
Billy Sims 14
Roy Williams 14
Adrian Peterson 13
Greg Pruitt 13

OKLAHOMA STATE

Barry Sanders 93
Thurman Thomas 60
Kevin Williams 24
Leslie O'Neal 16
Dexter Manley 13

TEXAS 

Earl Campbell 65
Doug English 21
Steve McMichael 21
Bill Bradley 17
John Elliott 16

TEXAS A&M

Shane Lechler 31
Lester Hayes 29
Richmond Webb 28
Ray Childress 26
Sam Adams 13

TEXAS TECH

Zach Thomas 40
Curtis Jordan 4
Dylan Gandy 3
Maury Buford 3
Ted Watts 3
Timmy Smith 3

Source: ESPN Stats & Analysis Team

The best and worst of the Big 12 in the Super Bowl

January, 30, 2009
1/30/09
5:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's been fun to look back at the history of the Super Bowl over the last week, looking at the Big 12's association with the biggest game in football.

But upon closer inspection, the Big 12 has had players with great and infamous performances in the 43-game history of the Super Bowl. Here are some of the most notable and forgetable.

1. Mike Jones, St. Louis linebacker (Missouri) -- His stop of Tennessee's Kevin Dyson only inches short of the goal line on the game's final play preserved the Rams' 23-16 triumph over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. It is one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.

2. Timmy Smith, Washington Redskins running back (Texas Tech) -- Erupted for a Super Bowl record 204 rushing yards on 22 carries, including runs of 58 and 43 yards, to key the Redskins' 42-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XXII.

3. John Riggins, Washington running back (Kansas) -- Rushed for 166 yards on a Super Bowl-record 38 carries to power the Redskins to a 27-17 victory over Miami in Super Bowl XVII. Riggins gave the Redskins the lead for good on a 43-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 blast early in the fourth quarter, wrapping up an MVP performance that remains the only one earned by a former Big 12 player.

4. Roger Craig, San Francisco running back (Nebraska) -- Craig was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams with the 49ers and had several strong performances. But his biggest was a three-touchdown effort against Miami in Super Bowl XIX. Craig ran for 58 yards and a touchdown and also snagged a team-high seven receptions for 77 yards and two scores to pace the 49ers to a 38-16 victory.

5. Wes Welker, New England wide receiver (Texas Tech) -- Welker's team dropped a disappointing 17-14 game to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, but it wasn't his fault. Welker matched the Super Bowl record with 11 receptions for 103 yards, but it wasn't enough to lead his team to victory.

Most infamous moments/performances for a Big 12 player in Super Bowl history:

1. Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State) loses his helmet -- The College and Pro Football Hall of Famer had one of the most notorious moments of his career when he lost his helmet at the start of Super Bowl XXVI against Washington. Typically, Thomas placed his helmet at the 40-yard-line before a game, but it was moved in order for a stage to be set up for Harry Connick Jr.'s rendition of the national anthem. Thomas entered the game after missing Buffalo's first two plays from scrimmage. It was the start of a miserable performance where he rushed for only 13 yards on 10 carries in a 37-24 loss to the Redskins.

2. Boyd Dowler's (Colorado) injury makes Max McGee's career -- We never would have heard about McGee's pre-game carousing before Super Bowl I if Dowler hadn't separated his shoulder early and left the game. McGee grabbed seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Packers to a 35-10 victory over Kansas City. Dowler didn't have a catch in the game.

3. Jack Pardee's (Texas A&M) long ride on Larry Csonka's back -- The veteran Washington linebacker was carried for nearly 30 yards by Miami fullback Larry Csonka on a 49-yard run in Super Bowl VI. The play has been replayed in countless NFL Films showings over the years in the final game of the 15-year career of Pardee. Even worse for Pardee, his team lost, 14-7.

4. Donny Anderson (Texas Tech) levels the "The Hammer" -- Before the game, Kansas City defensive back Fred "The Hammer" Williamson vowed that he would knock out a Green Bay player from Super Bowl I with "his hammer," a well-placed forearm shiver. Instead, Green Bay running back Donny Anderson, a former Texas Tech player, caused a concussion for Williamson when his knee collided with Williamson's head early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl I. Williamson also suffered a broken arm on the play when his teammate, linebacker Sherrill Headrick, fell on top of him.

5. The Los Angeles Rams' secondary collective bad day in Super Bowl XIV -- The starting secondary for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV was composed entirely of alumni of Big 12 schools -- CB Pat Thomas (Texas A&M), CB Rod Perry (Colorado), S Nolan Cromwell (Kansas) and S Dave Elmendorf (Texas A&M). Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw riddled the group for 309 passing yards and two touchdowns en route to a MVP-winning performance in a 31-19 victory for the Steelers.

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