SALT LAKE CITY — In the 53-year history of the Super Bowl, dozens of players with Utah ties have played on football’s biggest stage. BYU alone has had three dozen players make a total of more than 60 appearances in the Super Bowl.

But which of them really made their mark on the game? This is an attempt to rate the dozen most impactful performances by Utah collegians or natives in the Super Bowl.

1. Steve Young (BYU). This is a no-brainer. After a long apprenticeship under Joe Montana, Young got his chance to lead the team and took the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XXIX in Miami, where they faced the San Diego Chargers. On the third play of the game, Young threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice, laying the ball deftly between the two safeties, and he was off and running (and passing). Young was nearly perfect, completing 26 of 34 passes for 325 yards and a Super Bowl record six touchdowns (four in the first half). He also rushed five times for 49 yards, giving him 374 yards of total offense in a 49-26 rout of the Chargers.

Even Young was impressed. “I haven’t thrown six touchdown passes in a game in my life,” he said. “Then I throw six in the Super Bowl! Unbelievable.”

Young was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.

2. Manny Fernandez (Utah). Many observers thought Fernandez, a nose tackle, should have been the MVP of Super Bowl VII. He had 17 tackles and one sack in leading the Miami Dolphins to a 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins, concluding a perfect 17-0 season. The MVP trophy was awarded to safety Jake Scott, who had two interceptions.

3. Bobby Wagner (Utah State). Wagner, the prolific and terrific Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker and future Hall of Famer, actually could be given two of the top dozen spots on this list. In Super Bowl XLIX, he had a game-high 12 total tackles — 10 of them solo — in a 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots. In the previous year’s Super Bowl he had 10 tackles — five solo — in a 43-8 win over the Broncos.

4. Paul Kruger (Utah, Timpanogos High). An edge linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, Kruger produced two third-down sacks in Super Bowl XLVII that killed long drives deep into Baltimore territory by the 49ers. They proved to be huge plays in a game that was decided by only three points.

On third and goal at the Baltimore 8, Kruger sacked 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the 11th play of the drive, resulting in a 10-yard loss and forcing the Niners to settle for a field goal. In the second quarter, on third and 2 at the Baltimore 9, Kruger again sacked Kaepernick on the ninth play of the drive to force the Niners to settle for another field goal, cutting the Ravens’ lead to 21-6. The Ravens wound up winning the game 34-31.

5. Steve Smith (Utah). In Super Bowl XXXVIII, Smith caught 4 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in the Carolina Panthers’ 32-29 loss to the Patriots.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson (87) tries but fails to get the ball into the end zone as he is tackled by St. Louis Rams’ Mike Jones (52) on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2000. | AP

6. Kevin Dyson (Utah, Clearfield High). Dyson, a wide receiver for the Titans, had modest stats — 4 catches, 41 yards, 0 touchdowns — but he was a key figure in one of the most iconic plays in NFL history. With six seconds left in Super Bowl XXXIV and the Titans trailing the Rams by seven points, he caught a pass at the 4-yard line and was tackled just one yard short of the end zone. The Titans lost 23-16. It became such a famous play that it was even mentioned in the Tom Hanks movie “Castaway.”

7. Kyle Van Noy (BYU). Van Noy, a linebacker, has played in the last three Super Bowls after being traded by the lowly Detroit Lions to the Patriots in the fall of 2016.  In Super Bowl LIII, he had 4 solo tackles, 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss in a close defensive battle that the Patriots won 13-3 over the Rams. He also had an impactful performance in Super Bowl LII, with 4 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle and 1 quarterback hit.

Related
Fred Warner credits Kyle Van Noy for taking him under his wing in becoming a film junkie

8. Jim McMahon (BYU, Roy High). In just his fourth year in the league, McMahon quarterbacked the Chicago Bears to a 46-10 win over the Patriots to put the finishing touches on a 15-1 season. McMahon threw just 20 passes, but they went for 256 yards and averaged a Super Bowl-record 12.8 yards per attempt (still the second best ever). McMahon also rushed for two touchdowns, setting a Super Bowl record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

9. Bart Oates (BYU). It’s difficult to quantify the performance and impact of an offensive lineman, but in Super Bowl XXV the Giants rushed for 172 yards and one touchdown in a 20-19 win over the Bills. Oates, a five-time Pro Bowl center, must have been doing something right. Oates played on three Super Bowl championship teams — two with the Giants, one with the 49ers.

Atlanta Falcons’ Jamal Anderson runs in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXIII against the Denver Broncos in Miami, Sunday, Jan. 31, 1999. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Atlanta Falcons’ Jamal Anderson runs in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXIII against the Denver Broncos in Miami, Sunday, Jan. 31, 1999. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) | ELISE AMENDOLA, AP

10. Jamal Anderson (Utah). After winning the NFL’s regular-season rushing title with 1,846 yards, Anderson carried the Atlanta Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII, where he rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries and caught 3 passes for 16 yards. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Broncos

11. Golden Richards (BYU, Granite High). A naturally gifted but troubled athlete, Richards caught just two passes for 38 yards, but one of them went for a 29-yard touchdown that sealed the Dallas Cowboys’ 27-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XII. He was only 27 years old, but his career ended two years later.

12, (tie) Austin Collie (BYU), Dennis Pitta (BYU) — Collie, a rookie, caught 6 passes for 66 yards from quarterback Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV. He also had the longest play from scrimmage in the game — his 40-yard reception put the Colts at the Saints’ 30-yard line with two minutes to go, but the Colts failed to score and lost 31-17. On third and seven on the first drive of the game, Collie caught a 14-yard pass for a first down that set up a field goal. The game concluded a brilliant playoff run in which Collie caught 17 passes for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns in three games. He was a rising star, but concussions limited him to three seasons and a few games in two others.

Pitta, a tight end for the Ravens, caught 4 passes for 26 yards and 1 touchdown in a narrow 34-31 win over the 49ers.