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The most impactful plays in Super Bowl history

Cornerback Malcolm Butler's interception in the closing seconds against the Seahawks sealed the Patriots' win in Super Bowl XLIX. Rob Carr/Getty Images

Today we're taking a look at the plays that most changed the outcomes of Super Bowls -- the "where were you when" plays that will be remembered for generations to come.

These are ranked by a statistic called win probability added (WPA), which measures the change in a team's chance to win from the start of the play to the end of it, from the perspective of the offense (a positive WPA means the offensive team's win probability increased, and a negative WPA means the defensive team's did).

The plays with the biggest WPA might not be the most miraculous or athletically stupendous plays (no, the David Tyree helmet catch is not in the top 10); rather, these are the plays that affected the outcome of the game the most. That means down, distance, yard line, score differential and time remaining all come into play when ranking the top plays.

It's worth noting that the win probability model is era-adjusted and accounts for the changing nature of the game. Here are the top 15 game-changing plays in Super Bowl history:

1. Malcolm Butler interception in the end zone: Minus-.806 WPA

Super Bowl XLIX, 2014 season: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

You don't need to be a history buff to remember the biggest play in Super Bowl history. Less than a year ago, the Seahawks were one yard away from winning their second straight championship before Butler picked off Russell Wilson at the goal line.

Prior to that play, Wilson was mounting a historic drive, highlighted by a miraculous 33-yard reception by Jermaine Kearse. But Butler's game-saving interception clinched the victory for the Patriots with 20 seconds remaining. No play in the previous 48 Super Bowls came close to impacting the outcome of the game as significantly as Butler's interception.

2. Wide right! Scott Norwood misses 47-yard field goal: Minus-.523 WPA

Super Bowl XXV, 1990: New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills

On a play that will forever haunt Bills fans, Norwood lined up for a game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining. It wasn't an easy kick -- kickers were a mere 11-of-27 on kicks beyond 40 yards in Super Bowls before Norwood's attempt. As the kick drifted to the right, Bills fans saw their chances for their first-ever Super Bowl win sail away, too.

3. Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald, 64-yard touchdown: Plus-.509 WPA

Super Bowl XLIII, 2008: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

Super Bowl XLIII featured four of the top 11 individual plays in Super Bowl history, but the biggest play of the game in terms of WPA occurred in defeat. With the Cardinals in the midst of an incredible fourth-quarter comeback, Warner hit Fitzgerald over the middle for a 64-yard touchdown and a three-point lead with less than three minutes remaining. That play increased their chance of winning from 22 percent to 73 percent before Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes orchestrated one of the most notable drives in Super Bowl history.

4. Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse, 33-yard reception: Plus-.428 WPA

Super Bowl XLIX, 2014: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

If it wasn't for the No. 1 play on this list, Kearse's miraculous 33-yard reception while lying on his back would be remembered as one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. Though the Seahawks didn't win the game, it was still one of the most impactful plays, as it increased Seattle's chance to win from 27 percent to 70 percent with just over a minute to play.

5. Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress, 13-yard touchdown: Plus-.418 WPA

Super Bowl XLII, 2007: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

The most memorable play of Super Bowl XLII was undoubtedly David Tyree's helmet catch, but the most impactful play was Burress' go-ahead touchdown. After Tyree's catch, the Giants still needed 24 yards and a touchdown to win the game. With time running out, their chance to win remained below 50 percent until Manning connected with Burress in the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead score.

6. Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad, 85-yard touchdown: Plus-.415 WPA

Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2003: New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers

The Patriots and Panthers combined for a Super Bowl-record 37 points in the fourth quarter, including Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 41-yard field goal. The biggest WPA play of the game, however, was Delhomme's 85-yard touchdown to Muhammad, the longest passing play in Super Bowl history. That touchdown gave the Panthers the lead, marking the first time the Patriots trailed in their previous eight games, and increased Carolina's chance of winning to 56 percent.

7. John Riggins, 43-yard rushing touchdown: Plus-.410 WPA

Super Bowl XVII, 1982: Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins

On fourth-and-1 with roughly 10 minutes remaining and the Redskins trailing by four, Riggins broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and rumbled 43 yards for a touchdown. At the time, it was the longest rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history, and the play gave the Redskins their first lead of the game.

8. Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes, 40-yard completion: Plus-.387 WPA

Super Bowl XLIII, 2008: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

After the Cardinals took a 23-20 lead on Fitzgerald's 64-yard touchdown, Roethlisberger led the Steelers 78 yards for the go-ahead score. The biggest play of that drive was a 40-yard catch-and-run to Holmes with 49 seconds remaining. After the catch, the Steelers had the ball at the Cardinals 6-yard line with a 65 percent chance to win.

9. Roethlisberger to Holmes, 6-yard touchdown: Plus-.376 WPA

Super Bowl XLIII, 2008: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

Two plays after Holmes' 40-yard reception, Roethlisberger again found his go-to receiver in the back right corner of the end zone for the game-winning score. Holmes ended the game with 131 receiving yards and the third-most WPA by a receiver in Super Bowl history.

10. Terry Bradshaw to John Stallworth, 73-yard touchdown: Plus-.361 WPA

Super Bowl XIV, 1979: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Rams

Seeking their fourth championship in six years, the Steelers entered the fourth quarter trailing 19-17. On their first drive of the quarter, Bradshaw heaved the ball 40 yards in the air and into the arms of Stallworth for a 73-yard touchdown. That play increased Pittsburgh's chance of winning to 76 percent, and it would not fall below 63 percent for the remainder of the game.

11. James Harrison's 100-yard interception return touchdown: Plus-.352 WPA

Super Bowl XLIII, 2008: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals

On the final play of the first half, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison intercepted Warner in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. The interception gave Pittsburgh a 10-point lead and 88 percent chance to win heading into the half. It is the only play on this list (and only play ranked in the top 30) that occurred in the first half.

12. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice, 27-yard completion: Plus-.351 WPA

Super Bowl XXIII, 1988: San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Trailing 16-13 with 3:20 to play, Montana orchestrated maybe the most memorable drive in Super Bowl history. Most remember Montana's go-ahead touchdown to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining (the 19th-biggest game-changing play), but the most impactful play of the drive occurred two plays earlier.

On second-and-20, Montana hit Rice over the middle for a 27-yard gain. Rice, who gained a Super Bowl-record 215 receiving yards in the game, eluded three defenders and brought the ball down to the 18-yard line to set up the game-winning touchdown.

13. Thurman Thomas fumble and James Washington 46-yard scoop and score: Minus-.340 WPA

Super Bowl XXVIII, 1993: Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills

After losing to the Cowboys by 35 points in the previous year's Super Bowl, the Bills had a 13-6 halftime lead in this rematch. Then one play changed the game. Fifty-five seconds into the second half, Thomas fumbled and Washington picked it up for the score. It was the start of 24 unanswered points scored by the Cowboys in the second half, which ultimately handed the Bills their fourth straight Super Bowl loss.

14. Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce, 73-yard touchdown: Plus-.335 WPA

Super Bowl XXXIV, 1999: St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans

With the game tied at 16 and roughly two minutes remaining, Warner threw the ball 33 yards down the sideline to Bruce, who avoided a tackler and ran into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. After that play the Rams had a 94 percent chance to win, but they would need a stop at the 1-yard line on the final play of the game to seal a 23-16 victory.

15. Eli Manning to Steve Smith, 12-yard completion: Plus-.329 WPA

Super Bowl XLII, 2007: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

Most remember Tyree's helmet catch and Burress' go-ahead touchdown, but there was one more play on the Giants' historic drive in Super Bowl XLII that helped to seal the victory. Three plays after Tyree's catch, the Giants were facing third-and-11 with 45 seconds remaining. Their chance to win had again dropped to 16 percent before Manning connected with Smith down the right sideline to set up Burress' 13-yard touchdown on the following play. This catch is often a forgotten piece of the Giants' memorable drive, but it had a major impact on the outcome of the game.