Best Super Bowls of all-time – #5 – Super Bowl XXXII – Green Bay Packers vrs. Denver Broncos
January 30, 2012 Leave a comment
John Elway had been one of the best quarterbacks in the league in his 15 years as a member of the Denver Broncos. He was the first overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft and had already started 3 Super Bowls but he had yet to win one. On the flip side it had only taken Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre 6 years before he won his 1st Super Bowl championship in 1996 and he was looking for a repeat. He’d have to get through Elway and the Broncos first.
Super Bowl XXXII – Green Bay Packers vrs. Denver Broncos – January 25, 1998, broadcast by NBC, announced by Dick Enberg, Phil Simms, and Paul MacGuire
Favre started off hot on the Packers’ opening drive of the game. After moving the ball down the field through the air running back Dorsey Levens took three straight hand offs for a combined 27 yards to set the Packers up at the Denver 35 yard line. Two plays later Favre connected with receiver Antonio Freeman on a 22 yard touchdown completion to give the Packers the early 7-0 lead. The Broncos were set up with good field position at the start of the ensuing drive when kick returner Vaughn Hebron returned the ball to their own 42 yard line. After a long 27 yard run by running back Terrell Davis set the Broncos up deep in Green Bay territory Elway helped his own cause by scrambling for a 10 yard gain to set up 1st-and-goal at the 2. Two plays later Davis took it in from a yard out to tie the game a 7-7. Favre and the Packers could not respond to that score as Favre was picked off by Denver cornerback Tyrone Braxton on only the 2nd play of the next drive. Starting the possession at the Packers’ 45 yard line the Broncos marched right down the field, paced by their ground game. Elway took it in himself from a yard out to give the Broncos a 14-7 1st quarter lead.
Once again the Broncos defense harassed Favre on the next Packers drive. Safety Steve Atwater sacked Favre and forced a fumble deep in Green Bay territory. Defensive end Neil Smith recovered the fumble at the Green Bay 33. The Broncos couldn’t manage a first down but Jason Elam hit the 2nd longest field goal in Super Bowl history from 51 yards out to give the Broncos a 17-7 lead. After the teams exchanged punts the Packers were backed up at their own 5 yard line with a little over 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the half. Brett Favre took all of the field and all of the clock and marched the Packers on a 17 play drive that ended when he found tight end Mark Chmura from 6 yards out with just :12 left to go in the quarter to get the Packers to within 3 at 17-14 at the half.
The Broncos took the ball to start the 2nd half but on the very first play Davis was stripped of the ball by Green Bay defensive back Tyrone Williams who recovered the ball himself at the Denver 26 yard line. The Broncos originally held the Packers to a field goal try but they jumped off sides on the attempt giving the Packers a fresh set of downs. The Packers still couldn’t convert a first down and despite the second chance their drive ended at the Broncos’ 9 yard line. Kicker Ryan Longwell converted the 27 yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 17-17. Both defenses held up over the next few possessions and the teams exchanged punts. After the Packers pinned the Broncos back at their own 8 yard line Elway went to work with a drive reminiscent of “The Drive”. He took the Broncos on a 13 play drive, the biggest play was a 36 yard completion to receiver Ed McCaffrey. The most memorable play of the drive however came on 3rd down and 7 from the Packers 12 yard line. Elway dropped back to pass but had to scramble out of the pocket to elude the pressure. He ran for the first down marker and as he dove for the first down he was hit by two Packers defenders on either side of him, sending him in a helicopter-like motion. He came down with the ball past the marker for a first down conversion. Two plays later Davis scored again from a yard out and gave the Broncos a 24-17 lead as the 4th quarter neared. Elway had a little more than a quarter to play but he could taste his first Super Bowl victory.
After Antonio Freeman fumbled the ensuing kickoff Elway and the Broncos looked as if they might have been ready to put the Packers away for good. They went for the end zone on the very first play but Elway’s pass to receiver Rod Smith was picked off by safety Eugene Robinson and returned to the Packers’ 15 yard line. Instead of having a two touchdown lead Elway turned the ball over to Favre, who now only needed a touchdown to tie the game. Favre rekindled some of his magic from the previous Super Bowl and took the Packers right down the field on 4 straight completions, 3 to Freeman. The final play was a 13 yard score on a pass from Favre to Freeman to tie the game up at 24-24 with a little over a minute gone by in the 4th quarter. Both teams punted on their next two possessions and the Broncos got the ball on a short punt at the Packers’ 49 yard line with 3:27 to go in the game. Davis ran for 2 yards on the first play but was grabbed in the face mask and the ball was advanced to the Green Bay 32 yard line. Two plays later Elway connected with fullback Howard Griffith for 23 yards to set up 1st and goal at the Green Bay 8 yard line with 2:00 remaining. After a holding penalty brought the Broncos back 10 yards Terrell Davis rushed for 17 yards down to the Green Bay 1 yard line. Denver took a time out with 1:47 left. Packers’ coach Mike Holmgren instructed his team to let the Broncos score to preserve as much time on the clock for Favre to drive down the field. Davis scored his 3rd TD of the game on the next play giving the Broncos the 31-24 lead with 1:45 left to go. Elway and the Broncos were a minute and forty-five seconds away from that elusive Super Bowl glory but Favre and the Packers had one more chance. Favre hit Dorsey Levens on the first two plays of the drive for gains of 22 and 13 yards to set the Packers up at the Broncos 35 yard line with 1:04 remaining. Favre gained 4 yards on the next pass completion to Levens but the next one went in and out of the hands of Freeman. Favre missed on the next one and that set up 4th and 6 from the Broncos 31 yard line. Favre’s pass intended for Mark Chmura was broken up by linebacker John Mobley and the Broncos finally got their 1st Super Bowl victory in 4 chances.
Final Score: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Super Bowl victories are team victories and this one was no exception but there is no doubt that the Broncos team as a whole had a little extra motivation in helping Elway win his 1st ring. Elway had already put together a Hall of Fame resume in his 15 years in the NFL but had been 0-3 and his prior Super Bowl appearances, all bad losses. Elway had one of the more gutsy performances that you will see from a veteran quarterback in this game and even if you weren’t a fan of the Denver Broncos it was cool to see Elway finally celebrate with the Lombardi Trophy.