Best Super Bowls of all-time – #6 – Super Bowl XXXIV – St. Louis Rams vrs. Tennessee Titans

The St. Louis Rams were a machine in 1999.  Their offense was known as the “Greatest Show on Turf.”    They were led by quarterback Kurt Warner who was undrafted out of college and working as a supermarket clerk.  The Tennessee Titans were coming off of the Music City Miracle in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and two upset wins on the road in Jacksonville and Indianapolis.  They were upstart but they still had to contend with Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and the rest of the Greatest Show on Turf.

Super Bowl XXXIV – St. Louis Rams vrs. Tennessee Titans – January 30, 2000, broadcast on ABC, announced by Al Michaels and Boomer Esiason

McNair and the Titans offense was stymied by the Rams defense in the 1st half

The Rams offense started the game the way many people envisioned that they would, they took the opening drive down the field all the way to the Tennessee 17 yard line.  The Titans defense held on third down and the Rams botched the field goal opportunity when punter Mike Horan fumbled the snap.  The Titans responded with a drive of their own down to the St. Louis 29 yard line, thanks in large part to a 32 yard catch and run by Titans running back Eddie George.  Longtime Titans kicker Al Del Greco missed the 47 yard field goal however and neither team could score on their first possession despite moving the ball downfield.  That was the only field goal attempt of the half by the Titans.  They were forced to punt on each of their ensuing 1st half possessions.  The Rams meanwhile moved the ball inside the Titans’ 20 yard line on four different occasions in the 1st half but each time the Titans defense stiffened and forced St. Louis to settle for field goals.  Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins was 3-for-4 in his opportunities and gave the Rams a 9-0 lead heading into halftime.

Torry Holt scored the first TD of the game in the 3rd quarter

The offenses both picked up in the 2nd half.  The Titans finally moved the ball into St. Louis territory but Del Greco missed the field goal again, this time because he was blocked by Rams defensive back Todd Lyght.  Warner moved the Rams down the field quickly with big throws of 31 yards to Bruce and 16 yards to tight end Ernie Conwell.  He capped off the 68 yard drive with a 9 yard TD pass to Torry Holt.  It was the first TD of the game and gave the Rams a commanding 16-0 3rd quarter lead.  Worse for the Titans was that standout safety Blaine Bishop had to be carted off the field with a spinal injury.  After kick returner Derrick Mason set the Titans up with nice field position the Titans drove the ball on the backs of their run game.  Eddie George carried the ball 6 times on the drive and quarterback Steve McNair had a big 23 yard scramble down to the St. Louis 2 yard line.  George finished the drive off by scoring from 2 yards out on his 6th run of the drive.  McNair couldn’t connect with tight end Frank Wycheck on the two point conversion attempt and the Titans trailed 16-6 heading into the 4th quarter.  No team had ever erased a double digit deficit in Super Bowl history.

Kevin Dyson fell just short of a game tying TD on the last play of the game

The Titans forced a Rams punt and got the ball back.  McNair led the Titans on a 13 play drive.  McNair connected with a receiver to gain 21 yards on two occasions during the drive, the first one to tight end Jackie Harris and the 2nd to receiver Issac Byrd.  Eddie George once again scored from 2 yards out and the Titans had cut the deficit to 16-13.  The Titans defense came up big again and forced a 3-and-out by the Rams offense.  After only a 30 yard punt the Titans were set up with the ball at their own 47 yard line.  They drove the ball down the field just enough to get Del Greco in range and this time he nailed the field goal from 43 yards out and tied the game at 16-16 with 2:12 remaining.  Warner and the Rams didn’t wait around to retake the lead.  On the first play from scrimmage on their next drive Warner hit Bruce with a pass and Bruce took it all the way to the end zone for a 73 yard TD catch to give the Rams the 23-16 with 2:00 remaining.  The Titans wouldn’t be so quick to score, knowing that the Rams could score from any point on the field.  A holding call on the kickoff set them back at their own 12 yard line to start the drive.  After a couple completions the Titans caught a break when Rams’ cornerback Dre Bly grabbed McNair’s face mask while he tried to tackle him.  It was a 12 yard gain on the run by McNair plus 15 yards on the facemask penalty, giving the Titans a 1st and 10 at the St. Louis 45 yard line.  A few plays later Bly continued to play the goat when he let a sure interception go through his arms.  Two plays later it was 3rd and 5 from the Rams 26 yard line.  McNair made a miraculous play when he escaped heavy pressure and connected with receiver Kevin Dyson on a 16 yard pass play to the Rams’ 10.  They called a timeout after the play and there was only :06 left on the clock, time for one more throw into the end zone.  The Titans designed a play to free Dyson open over the middle in front of the end zone to score a touchdown by attracting linebacker Mike Jones to Wychek deep in the end zone.  When the play happened Jones turned around and realized that McNair was throwing the ball to Dyson so he changed course and ran at Dyson.  Jones ran up and grabbed Dyson’s legs after he caught the ball between the 2 and 3 yard lines.  Dyson stretched the ball towards the end zone out as Jones brought him down.  Dyson’s shoulder touched the ground with the ball mere inches from the goal line.  The Titans left the ball at the Rams’ 1 inch line and the Rams celebrated their first ever Super Bowl victory.

Final Score:  St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16

When they say that football is a game of inches they can point to this game as direct proof.  If Dyson’s arm was just a little bit longer he may have scored a TD.  If Jones hadn’t looked back to see Dyson making the catch then the Super Bowl would have went to overtime for the first time in its history.  I guess the football gods giveth and the football gods taketh away as Wycheck and Dyson connected for the Music City Miracle just a month earlier.  The same duo couldn’t complete a Super Bowl miracle and time ran out on the Titans.  In any case this was the most exciting final play in Super Bowl history.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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