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.
With all the aspects of the game of American football that have evolved over the past couple decades, there remains one truth for all teams: your entire season can rest on one kick. This Super Bowl in Tampa was regarded by many as the best chance for the Buffalo Bills to capture a championship. They were favored by 7 points but standing in their way was Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. The Giants concocted a gameplan that limited the effectiveness of the Bills superior offense and were able to survive a last second kick to to take the Tampa Timestopper.
New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
Semi-lame Nickname: "The Patriotic Bowl"
Historical Significance- 4: This was the last title ride of Parcells in New York. The Giants were the epitome of power football, with a strong running game and punishing defense. The Bills K-Gun offense was a force on the offensive side of the football. Ted Marchibroda introduced the offense with the no-huddle concentration this year and it became very effective.
Game Enjoyment By the Fans- 5: When you include the patriotic association with the game, the underdog story of the Giants, and the exciting conclusion of the game, many consider this game to be one of the top Super Bowls we have seen.
High Profile Element-4: The Giants lost Phil Simms in a 17-13 loss to the Bills during the regular season. Jeff Hostetler came in and thrived however with his ability to scramble make few mistakes. Any discussion of the Giants defense starts with Lawrence Taylor, perhaps one of the greatest ever to play defense in NFL history. The defense was first in points allowed.
The Bills had 9 pro-bowlers on their roster, including Bruce Smith who recorded 19 sacks. The offense included the usual cast of characters with Kelly, Thomas, Reed, and lest we forget tight end Keith McKellar for whom the K-gun is named.
Venue/Atmosphere- 5: There was a lot security(for that time) in Tampa and a lot of flag-waiving due to the conflict that had erupted in the middle-east. The national anthem as sung by Whitney Houston is among the most heralded of all versions of the song. It reached number 20 in the Billboard charts.
Damn, that woman can blow, when she isn't snorting it.
The Halftime show was again taken over by Disney, damn you ABC! New Kids On the Block performed, and don't lie, in 1991 you thought they were damn cool.
Personal Enjoyment- 4.5: The game was a great contest of wills, and despite the Giants executing a great gameplan the Bills had a final drive to win the game. Did they get close enough? In hindsight you could say no but the Bills did the best they could to get in position.
Cleet's Rating Index: 22.5
Where I Was: Quick note on Desert Storm. As a family we started a pen pal program with a soldier stationed over in Iraq. I don't know if we gave him any aid but I hope it helped just one iota.
What Happened in the World: Ten days after the game a Michigan court barred Dr. Jack Kevorkian from performing any more assisted suicides. Bad news for Bills fans after the game.
Record of Note: The Giants time of possession for the game was 40:33.
Game MVP: Otis Anderson captured the MVP with 102 yards and a TD on the ground.
LVP/Most Memorable Play: I'll let Alec Baldwin narrate this:
NFL Fallout: The Bills would get 3 more shots at the big game, but as captured in this countdown already, they were denied each time. The game was the last one for Parcells as Giants head coach and ended a successful era for the franchise. By 1993, Simms and Taylor retired and the Giants would not achieve playoff success again until 2000.