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.
Enter the game of inches cliche here. Super Bowl 34 came down to 36 of them. Many hold this Super Bowl at the top of their lists, but despite the crazy ending I do not think it warrants the tag. It is my #7 though and a terrific game out of what many thought were "non-sexy" franchises. Kurt Warner, who has recently announced his retirement, made an improbable rise to stardom for leading his team to the title. Georgia is on my 1-yard line next.
St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Semi-Lame Nickname: "The Tackle"
Historical Significance- 4: The Rams had turned around what had previously been a habit of losing into a 13-3 season. They went 4-12 the previous season but with Dick Vermeil at the helm and a trade for Marshall Faulk with Indy, the team turned around. The Titans arrived as the new incarnation of the Houston Oilers that were recently the Tennessee Oilers when they played in Memphis.
Game Enjoyment By the Fans- 5: The game is looked back on as an all-time great yet most people can only recall the final play.
High Profile Element-4: Most of the focus was on Kurt Warner who was a few years earlier bagging groceries. However, the offense that Vermeil and offensive coordinator Mike Martz implemented became known as the "Greatest Show on Turf". Marshall Faulk gained over 2,000 yards for the second consecutive season. Isaac Bruce was in his prime, complemented by rookie Torry Holt and Az Hakim. Orlando Pace was a recent number 1 pick on the offensive line and the Rams acquired Adam Timmerman from the Packers. Not to be overlooked was the Rams defense that allowed just 242 points while the team scored 526.
The Titans were led by Steve McNair(RIP) and running back Eddie George. A workhorse running back, George had over 1,700 all-purpose yards. Kevin Dyson was their number 1 receiver and Frank Wycheck was the reliable tight end. The defense constructed by Jeff Fisher was the trademark of the team though. Jevon Kearse was truly in freak form with 14.5 sacks in his rookie season and helped the Titans to a 13-3 record. However, the Jaguars bested the Titans in their own division with a record of 14-2 with their only losses to the Titans. Therefore Tennessee entered the playoffs as a wildcard team. In their first round game they pulled off one of the most miraculous plays in NFL history. There are still NO FLAGS ON THE FIELD:
Venue/Atmosphere- 4: The game was the second Super Bowl to be played in the Georgia Dome. Faith Hill sang the anthem,and I know she is still a vision, but 1999-2000 Faith Hill...oh my. The Halftime show was interesting, I'll just list the performers and let you draw your own conclusions: Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton with the show narrated by Edward James Olmos.
Personal Enjoyment- 5: From going to a game where you were just waiting for St. Louis to break it open to a pulse-pounding finish, the game's 4th quarter is among the very best.
Cleet's Rating Index: 22
Where I Was: I was a freshman in college for this one. Ironically, or sadly I watched it by myself in my dorm room. I did make the Grande Meal Run though. When I was in college and I could eat whatever I wanted I used to go down to Taco Bell 2 or 3 times a month and order a Grande Meal, 5 soft and 5 crunchy tacos. Add fire sauce, eat all ten tacos quickly, and then lean back and kiss the sky.
What Happened in the World: This game took place on January 30th, 2000. Remember all the Y2k panic? That was some bullshit.
Record of Note: Kurt Warner threw for 414 passing yards and 45 pass attempts without an interception.
Game MVP: Warner had an incredible game passing and now holds the record for passing yards in the Super Bowl. His 73-yard pass to Isaac Bruce for a TD in the 4th quarter proved to be the game winner, and it was a pass he made in the face of pressure.
LVP: The ABC Network. Not only did you roll out a lame ass Disney-themed halftime show, you kept showing Brenda Warner in the crowd after every play of the 4th quarter. Not one dramatic moment could go by without getting a reaction from Mrs. Warner in the stands, unbearable.
Most Memorable Play I can't go with the tackle here, it is too obvious. McNair's 3rd and 5 scramble with less than 30 seconds, escaping two rushers and getting the ball to Dyson would be one of the most heroic plays if the Titans had been able to convert on the final play. While the tackle is what is identified with this Super Bowl, I always recall that mad scramble from McNair.
NFL Fallout: The Titans would go on to have success under Fisher, who is now the league's longest tenured coach. However, they have not been able to make it back to big game. The Rams continued their prolific offense and made it back to the Super Bowl two years after this game but fell to the Patriots. After that, Warner lost the starting job and Faulk retired. The team was never the same and currently went 1-15 the past season.