The 5 best Super Bowl player performances of all time

The Super Bowl is the most important game on the American sports landscape. There is more hype and press coverage than any other sporting event in the United States. If you come up big in the Super Bowl, you prove you have the ability to put aside all of the outside pressures and rise to the occasion. I found it hard to cut my list to just five, but I did so anyway. Here are the five best individual performances in the Super Bowl.

5. Jerry Rice: Super Bowl XXIII: The greatest receiver in the history of the NFL, had perhaps his most meaningful game in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Although his teammate, John Taylor, made the catch that gave the San Francisco 49ers the lead, 20-16, with just 34 seconds left in the game, Rice carried the load. He had 11 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown. Both the 11 catches and the 215 yards are still Super Bowl records.

4. Phil Simms: Super Bowl XXI: The New York Giants trailed the Denver Broncos 10-9 at the half of Super Bowl XXI. In the second half they outscored Denver by 20 and won the game 39-20. Quarterback Phil Simms was the one that led the charge. He completed 22 of 25 pass attempts for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns, without an interception. He was even the second leading rusher on the team with 25 yards. Simms distributed the ball to eight different receivers, with none of them catching more than four passes. He holds the record for best Super Bowl completion percentage at 88%.

3. Joe Montana: Super Bowl XXIV: Montana started and won four Super Bowls for the 49ers and he saved his best performance for last. He carved up the Denver Broncos defense for 297 yards passing and five touchdowns. The 49ers blew out the Broncos 55-10 and Montana was the main reason why. In his Super Bowl career Montana had 122 pass attempts without ever throwing an interception. That is just one of the reasons many believe Montana to be the best quarterback in the history of the NFL.

2. Lynn Swann: Super Bowl X: The Pittsburgh Steelers won their second straight title in Super Bowl X. Swann only made four catches in the game, but they were good for 161 yards and a touchdown. It helped the Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw completed only nine passes all game long, so Swann caught 44% of the Steelers completions. The big blow was a 64 yard touchdown reception by Swann in the fourth quarter with just over three minutes left.

1. Steve Young: Super Bowl XXIX: Steve Young was finally able to emerge from Joe Montana's shadow with this performance against the San Diego Chargers. Young completed 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards and six touchdowns. He ran for 49 yards as well, which led both teams in rushing. The six touchdowns is a Super Bowl record. The lasting image of the game is of Young clutching the Lombardi Trophy with the biggest smile on his face, the monkey had finally been removed from his back.

More from this contributor:

5 Best College Bowl Games

5 Most Disappointing NFL Teams in 2010

5 Best Baseball Announcers of All Time


*Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football 2012 registration is now open. Sign up today!
Updated Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011