When thinking about my favorite Super Bowl, I could have gone several ways. As a Steelers fan I could say any of their six titles. From Roethlisberger to Holmes at the end of Super Bowl 43, to the win over the Seahawks in SB 40 (I lived in Washington at the time too, and at one point got repeated death threats for being a Steeler fan) to any of the Steel Curtain victories in the late 70's. But when I think of my favorite Super Bowl, I have to say this classic match-up between the Rams and Titans.
This game had easily the best ending of a Super Bowl EVER! Don't tell me about game winning field goals, or a last minute touchdown where the other team had a chance and failed. Other than a game ending hail mary, nothing beats a game winning open field tackle. At the half yard line. On a play that would have tied the game. With the ball carrier stretching for the goal line. As time expires. NOTHING!
Super Bowl 34 started off slow from a scoring standpoint. Both the Rams and Titans botched opening drive field goal attempts. Rams punter Mike Horan fumbled the hold on a 34 yard attempt on St. Louis' first drive. On their ensuing drive, Tennessee Kicker Al Del Greco missed a 47 yard field goal attempt. The Titans were forced to punt on the rest of their first half drives while the Rams were able to march up and down the field but would only go into halftime leading 9-0.
The second half was a different story.
After Rams safety Todd Lyght blocked a 47 yard attempt by Del Greco, the Rams would move down the field for the first touchdown of the game, a 9 yard strike from Kurt Warner (24/45 414 yards, 2 TD) to Torry Holt (7 catches, 109 yards, 1TD). This grab by Holt has become an iconic play as Holt needed to pin the ball against his face mask to make the catch. The Titans would answer on the next drive with a one yard touchdown run by Eddie George (28 carries, 95 yards, 2TD), but Tennessee would fail to convert their 2-point conversion. After another two yard touchdown run by George and a 43 yard field goal, the game was tied 16-16.
With only 2:12 remaining in the game, the Rams only needed one play to break the tie. Kurt Warner would complete a deep pass down the sideline to Isaac Bruce (6 catches, 162 yards 1 TD), Bruce would cut back across the field, splitting two defenders and taking the ball 73 yards for the touchdown. I remember watching the play with my dad and a few of his friends and our living room nearly exploding with excitement watching Bruce weave his way down the field.
Then the real fun began, and history would be made.
With 1:48 left on the clock and starting the drive on the 12 yard line, Tennessee QB Steve McNair (22/36, 214 yards) would pick the Rams defense apart as he made his way down the field. 9 yard completion. 7 yard completion. 12 yard run and a 15 yard defensive penalty down to the Rams 45. 58 seconds left. A 5 yard offsides penalty. 2 yard run. 7 yard completion. An amazing escape by McNair where he was almost sacked but stuck a foot in the turf, escaped the pressure and completed another 16 yard pass down to the Rams 10. Timeout.
With six seconds left in the game, McNair threw a quick slant to receiver Kevin Dyson, who would be met at the 2 yard line by linebacker Mike Jones. As Jones dragged and spun him to the ground, Dyson stretched out his arm and the ball in a last hope attempt to tie up the game and go to overtime. Even though the play ended with the ball on the goal line, Dyson's shoulder hit the ground with the ball just inches short. And with that, "The Tackle" would go down as one of the best plays in pro-football history.
BEST… ENDING… EVER.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS