The second half of Super Bowl History is filled with a lot of really great, close games, but also a lot of infamous moments of failure. Just consider these names synonymous with disaster on the big stage – Thurman Thomas, Scott Norwood, Neil O'Donell, Eugene Robinson, Leon Lett, Barrett Robbins….(see details below).
For the record I am predicting a Saints victory Sunday, and a big score of 42-37. And maybe Reggie Bush will find his name in bold in my column next year.
Super Bowl 23 (1989) San Francisco 20 – Cincinnati 16. This thriller came down to that winning drive by Montana as the clock was ticking down, capped by the pass to John Taylor in endzone traffic.
Super Bowl 24 (1990) San Francisco 55 – Denver 10. Four TD passes for Joe Montana in a yawner. This one-sided slaughter is memorialized by the Simpsons in which Homer wishes he could be John Elway. He envisions himself spiking the ball in the endzone with a Super Bowl TD, only to learn the score is now 55-10 Niners. D’oh!!!
Super Bowl 25 (1991) Giants 20 – Buffalo 19. Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood goes wide right on a chance to win the game as I am down on my knees in the TV lounge of my college dorm, praying for Big Blue. The sweet taste of victory celebrated with a massive bucket of a margarita at Houlihans.
Super Bowl 26 (1992) Washington 37 – Buffalo 24. In a legendary mishap, Buffalo RB Thurman Thomas leaves his helmet in the dressing room and doesn’t notice until the game is about to start. Thomas misses the first possession, which features two running plays, the Bills have to punt and never recover. Thomas only gets 13 yards on the day.
Super Bowl 27 (1993) Dallas 52 – Buffalo 17, and Super Bowl 28 (1994) Dallas 30 – Buffalo 13. These were the dark ages for the Super Bowl. Unemotional and formulaic, Team America against the bumbling Bills provided no foothold for anyone not specifically rooting for one team. The two years run together and are symbolized by one quirky sideshow of a play. Huge Cowboys end Leon Lett showboating with a recovered fumble gets stripped by a hustling Bills WR Don Beebe at the one inch line.
Super Bowl 29 (1995) San Francisco 49 – San Diego 26. Only three plays into the Niners rout of the Chargers, WR Jerry Rice is gone on a 44 yard breakaway TD. I am watching the game in my Mission District apartment in San Francisco and the crackle of gunfire and explosives can be heard at the exact moment of this early TD; the rout was on early and the excitement could not be contained. Later there is dancing on the streets, waving of flags and bouncing automobiles in a wild scene.
Super Bowl 30 (1996) Dallas 27 – Pittsburgh 17. In a crushing moment which doomed this game to be remembered for failure, Steelers QB Neil O’Donnell threw a ball right to Cowboy DB Larry Brown, I mean right to him. I was at a San Francisco Super Bowl party where, naturally, we were unanimously rooting for the Steelers. The hostess comes in at that exact moment with a tray of snacks and lets out a big cheer…for the wrong team! It was the fourth quarter and she was so focused on the chips and dips that she hadn’t picked up which team was in what uniform yet, and thought Pittsburgh just grabbed the INT. Her errant cheer echoes into the sullen room.
Super Bowl 31 (1997) Green Bay 35 – New England 21. Fleet footed Heisman winner Desmond Howard answers a Pats TD by scampering 99 yards for a Packer TD on the ensuing kickoff, slamming the door shut on the Tuna and the Pats.
Super Bowl 32 (1998) Denver 31 – Green Bay 24. John Elway scrambling for a first down gets knocked 360 degrees in the air, spinning the Broncos to an unexpected victory. Odd to remember rooting for Elway and the Broncos to break the 12 year NFC run and to upset what I assumed would be a dynasty by Brett Favre that never came to be.
Super Bowl 33 (1999) Denver 34 – Atlanta 19. Hanky panky in the late night hours by Falcons safety Eugene Robinson has him arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. After being awarded the Bart Starr award for “high moral character” earlier in the day, Robinson, a married father of two, caps his Super Bowl eve by offering a female undercover cop $40 for oral sex. His bust reverberates through the pregame discussions and when Robinson gets toasted on an 80 yard Elway bomb, his fate is sealed as a Super Bowl villain who feel prey to the bright lights of the big game.
Super Bowl 34 (2000) St. Louis 23 – Tennessee 16. Titans receiver Andre Dyson stretches out for a game tying touchdown as time expires, only to be tackled a yard short of the endzone by Mike Jones, capping a thriller.
Super Bowl 35 (2001) Baltimore 34 – New York Giants 7. Ravens QB Trent Dilfer finds WR Brandon Stokley for a tone-setting breakaway TD early. I hosted a snow covered cookout with Giants fans. At a certain point in the third quarter everyone had fallen asleep except me. I had to wake everyone up to see replays of Ron Dixon’s 99 yard kickoff return, which was the only Giants score.
Super Bowl 36 (2002) New England 20 – St. Louis 17. Pats Adam Vinatieri with that clutch 48 yard game winner. But ya gotta remember Brady on that last drive with no timeouts. Great game and I feel nostalgic for the days of the Pats as loveable underdogs.
Super Bowl 37 (2003) Tampa Bay 48 – Oakland 21. In another disturbing example of pre Super Bowl partying gone awry, Raiders pro bowl center Barrett Robbins goes AWOL in Tijuana the day before the game (in San Diego), losing track of where and who he was in an alcohol-fueled bipolar episode. Unable to attend team functions he is sent home before the game. Backup Adam Treu is pushed around by Warren Sapp and company all game, as the Raiders are defeated while wondering why their offensive anchor wasn’t there.
Super Bowl 38 (2004) New England 32 – Carolina 29. After a great game-tying drive by the Panthers with 1:08 left, play of the game was a boneheaded kick out of bounds by Carolina kicker Jim Kasay. Starting at the 40 after the ensuing penalty gave the Pats plenty of time to maneuver Vinatieri into position for another Super Bowl winning kick.
Super Bowl 39 (2005) New England 24 – Philadelphia 21. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb throws up before an attempted fourth quarter drive and is strangely flat and unemotional while attempting in vain to lead his team.
Super Bowl 40 (2006) Pittsburgh 21 – Seattle 10. Steelers cement it on a trick play as wideout and former QB Antwan Randel-El catches a lateral and flings it 43 yards for a TD to Hines Ward.
Super Bowl 41 (2007) Indianapolis 29 – Chicago 17. Bears return ace Devin Hester returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown exactly as I predicted he would. It all happened so blazingly fast it seemed like Billy Joel was still singing the national anthem. It meant the game would be competitive for at least the first half; thanks to Rex Grossman’s interceptions it would last no longer.
Super Bowl 42 (2008) New York Giants 17 – New England 14. In the greatest moment in Super Bowl history, David Tyree on a 3rd-and-16 miracle, catches the ball with his fingertips against his helmet while folded backwards over the defender Rodney Harrison. Eli Manning had been getting pinballed around the pocket prior to making the pass. The winning drive caps an unexpected and thrilling clutch performance that is a huge life-memory for any Giants fan. Three days laster I get to see the Vince Lombardi trophy ride down Broadway in the arms of Michael Strahan.
Super Bowl 43 (2009) Pittsburgh 27 – Arizona 23. In the most incredible individual effort in Super Bowl history, Steelers LB James Harrison rambles the entire length of the field – 100 yards for an interception TD, flattening the entire Cardinal offense one by one, to turn the momentum to the Steelers before halftime.
About the Author
Written by Mark Reichman