During the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.
In the prime(time?) position on my countdown is the Meh in Miami. This game belonged to Mr. Elway and he rode off into the sunset with atop his white horse. While both teams entered with a combined 36-4 record, the game turned out to be a snoozer but quite a exclamation on the brilliant two-year run of the Broncos in the late 90s.
Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
Semi-Lame Nickname: Elway's Last Ride
Historical Significance- 3.5: The previous year's Super Bowl was an epic clash between Elway and Favre that resulted in number 7 finally winning the big one. He chose to come back and won the game at age 38. The Falcons had reached their first game after downing the Vikings in overtime in the NFC Championship Game (sound familiar?), sorry Vikes' fans. The Broncos were seeking to become the first repeat champions since the Cowboys 5 years earlier.
Game Enjoyment by the Fans- 3: The Elway factor certainly captivated audiences, but not entirely since like I stated mostly everyone was pulling for him the year prior. The Falcons played the underdog role despite their good record since they beat the highest scoring team in the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC Championship(again, sorry Vikings fans). All in all the game was a letdown.
High Profile Element- 3: Jamal Anderson(pre-blow in a bathroom stall) was the representative of the Dirty Bird Nation. Longtime slinger Chris Chandler provided the firepower from behind center in what proved to be balanced offense throughout the season, but the biggest name on the Falcons was their coach, Dan Reeves. After guiding Elway to 3 Super Bowl losses with the Broncos, Reeves was now the stoic leader of Atlanta. Recovering from an emergency coronary bypass after week 14, Reeves became an inspiration to the team.
Venue/Atmosphere- 3.5: There are reasons the Super Bowl will be in Miami for the 10th time this year. The weather is not the only valid one, but it helps. At the time of this game, the stadium in Miami Gardens was called Pro Player, formerly Joe Robbie. Since then it has become Dolphins Stadium(puke), Landshark Stadium(Just say no to beer in clear bottles), and now the mellowed-out Sun Life Stadium. However, there were some drawbacks to this South Florida celebration; the pregame was narrated by
Violet M. Bickerstaff Tori Spelling(+10 internet points if you get that reference) and the national anthem was sung by Cher. The halftime featured Big Bad Vodoo Daddy(riding their crest of late 90s swing revival), Gloria Estefan(got nothing for love for my fellow Cane), and Stevie Wonder. Weird combo but not too shabby either.
Personal Enjoyment- 2: If you can't tell I had had enough of the Elway-a-thon. The build-up to the game was laced with "will he or won't he retire" talks by the media when it was painfully obvious that if the Broncos won he would. Once the Broncos asserted their dominance in the game there was little flash except for Tim Dwight kickoff return.
Cleet's Rating Index: 14.5
Where I was: This game occurred during my senior year of High School. I attended a Super Bowl party a girl named Ashley's house. Parents were present so no shenanigans took place (more punch anyone?). This was my first introduction to the use of the grid scoring system where you pick two numbers out of the hat and if the score reaches your combo of numbers at the end of any of the quarters you win stuff. I got 5 and 2 I think.
What Happened in the World: Ten days before the game the U.S. Coast Guard made a cocaine bust of 43 tons off the Texas coast. No word on how much of that was going to George W.
Record of Note: Reeves became the 4th coach to try and fail at the Super Bowl 4 times. The other coaches to accomplish the quadrant of pain: Bud Grant(swear I am not picking on you Vikings fans), Don Shula and Marv Levy.
Game MVP: Elway threw for 336 yards and rushed for a TD of his known.
LVP: Eugene Robinson. In one of the more notorious flubs of Super Bowl lore, Robinson decided he needed to ease the tension the night before the big game. What better way to unwind in South Florida then to offer a young lady 40 bucks for a quick bob of the nob? If the lady happens to be an undercover cop, then the decision was flawed. If you received the Bart Starr award for "high moral character" earlier that day, then maybe a lurid movie in the quiet of your hotel room might have been a better choice. Robinson was toasted in the first quarter by Rod Smith for 41 yards setting up a score and an 80 yard TD reception which did him no favors in the press. However, Robinson continued on in his career and now is the radio color analyst for the Carolina Panthers and coaches high school football in Charlotte. He followed the Hugh Grant/Charlie Sheen/Charles Barkley method of recovering publicly from soliciting prostitution, well done sir but for the 33rd Super Bowl, you still get the LVP.
Most Memorable Play: Elway sneaking it in for his last TD as a pro.
NFL Fallout The Falcons turned out to only have one Super Bowl in them. They quickly fell into the NFL basement, but only a few season later their fortunes would change forever as they traded with the Chargers for the first overall pick which they used to draft Michael Vick, insert dog joke here. The Broncos had continued success after Elway retired, but never again reached the Super Bowl. The closest they came was 2005 when Jake Plummer lead them into the AFC title game but fell to the Steelers at home. Other quarterbacks were held unfairly to Elway's standards. Brian Griese was practically run out of town and Jay Cutler was initially lauded as the next strong-arm leader at Mile High, he was labeled a sour puss and traded by the Josh McDaniels regime. Mike Shanahan now resides in Washington, how many Bronco fans would take him back right now I wonder?