by Rob Holecko
Today, January 28th is the anniversary of three more Super Bowls for us to look back on here at the Gridiron Uniform Database in our daily feature, "On This Day." Twenty-two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers broke the '85 Bears record of most points in a Super Bowl, when they defeated the Denver Broncos 55 to 10. Six years after that, the Dallas Cowboys capped off their 1990s dynasty with their third Super Bowl of the decade, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27 to 10 in Super Bowl XXX in Arizona, and also on this day in 2001, the third Super Bowl held in Tampa was played as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
We are proud to add these Super Bowls to our database as we continue to build the Gridiron Uniform Database into the most complete and comprehensive resource of its' type anywhere on the internet.
Here are, from Wikipedia, in-depth reviews of these three games:
The 49ers blew out the Broncos by gaining 461 yards of total offense, holding the ball for 39:31, and scoring on six of their first eight drives. The San Francisco defense also limited the Broncos to 167 yards, 12 first downs, and a time of possession to 20:29.
On their opening possession, Denver was forced to punt after three plays and the 49ers scored on their ensuing drive, marching 66 yards and scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Montana to receiver Jerry Rice.
The Broncos responded with a 49-yard scoring drive, mainly on plays by running back Bobby Humphrey, who rushed 4 times for 22 yards and caught a 27-yard shovel pass, Elway's longest completion of the game. Kicker David Treadwell finished the drive with a 42-yard field goal to cut the Broncos deficit to 7–3.
Denver's defense forced San Francisco to punt on their next drive after 3 plays, and receiver Vance Johnson gave his team good field position with a 7-yard return to the Broncos' 49-yard line. But then Humphrey lost a fumble at midfield while being tackled by defensive end Kevin Fagan, and safety Chet Brooks recovered the loose ball for San Francisco.
From then on, the 49ers completely took over the game. Ten plays after the fumble recovery, the 49ers scored on a 7-yard pass from Montana to tight end Brent Jones. Kicker Mike Cofer missed the extra point attempt, keeping the score at 13–3, but it turned out to be the only miscue the 49ers would make for the rest of the game. Once again, the Broncos were forced to punt three plays after the ensuing kickoff, and the 49ers advanced 69 yards in 13 plays to score another touchdown. The key player on that drive was fullback Tom Rathman, who caught 3 passes for 39 yards, kept the drive alive with a successful run on a fourth down conversion, and capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown to make the score 20–3. Later in the second quarter, wide receiver John Taylor's 17-yard punt return gave the 49ers the ball near midfield, and they scored another touchdown with a 38-yard completion from Montana to Rice, increasing their lead to 27–3 at the end of the half.
When the second half started, the 49ers picked up right where they left off. Linebacker Mike Walter intercepted Broncos quarterback John Elway's first pass of the third quarter, and Montana threw a 28-yard touchdown reception to Rice on the next play. Then Elway was intercepted again on the Broncos' ensuing drive, this time by Brooks, who returned the ball 38 yards to the Denver 37-yard line. Two plays later, Montana fooled defensive back Steve Atwater with a pump fake in Rice's direction, and then threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Taylor, making the score 41–3.
Denver's lone touchdown came on their next possession, a 61-yard, 5-play drive. First, Broncos defensive back Darren Carrington returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to the 39-yard line. Elway's 13-yard completion to Johnson, a 34-yard run from Humphrey, and a pass interference penalty on 49ers linebacker Bill Romanowski moved the ball to the San Francisco 1-yard line. Elway then capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on third down, cutting their deficit to 41–10.
However, the 49ers continued to dominate the Broncos. San Francisco responded to Denver's score with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:56 off the clock, and ended with Rathman's 3-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Then after the ensuing kickoff, Elway was sacked for a 6-yard loss by defensive end Danny Stubbs. Then after an offsides penalty on the 49ers, cornerback Don Griffin sacked Elway, forcing a fumble. Stubbs recovered the loose ball and returned it 15 yards to Denver's 1-yard line. 49ers running back Roger Craig then closed out the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play to make the final score of the game 55–10.
Rice finished the game with 7 receptions for 148 yards and a Super Bowl record 3 receiving touchdowns (he joined teammate Roger Craig as the only players to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl; Craig did it in Super Bowl XIX – 2 receiving and 1 rushing). Craig was the leading rusher of the game with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown, while also catching 5 passes for 34 yards. Rathman rushed for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns while also catching 4 passes for 43 yards. Taylor caught 3 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, and added another 38 yards on 3 punt returns. Elway was held to just 10 completions out of 26 attempts for 108 yards with no touchdowns, and was intercepted 2 times. Elway also ran for a touchdown, and fumbled twice (although he recovered one of them). Humphrey was Denver's leading rusher and receiver, with 61 rushing yards and 3 receptions for 38 yards. Carrington returned 6 kickoffs for 146 yards.
Super Bowl XXX began with Dallas wide receiver Kevin Williams returning the opening kickoff 18 yards to the 29-yard line. On Dallas' first possession Troy Aikman completed a 20-yard pass on second down to wide receiver Michael Irvin, followed by a 23-yard gain by Emmitt Smith to advance to the Pittsburgh 28-yard line. On third down and eight from the 26-yard line, Williams could only gain 2 yards on a reverse play, forcing Dallas to settle for a 42-yard Chris Boniol field goal.On the Steelers' first possession, the Dallas defense forced a three-and-out and subsequent punt, which Cowboy cornerback Deion Sanders returned 11 yards to the 25-yard line. After 2 Smith runs, Aikman completed two quick passes, the first to Irvin for an 11 yard gain and the second to Sanders (who was brought in on offense as an extra receiver) for 47. Four plays later, Aikman completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jay Novacek (playing in what would be his last game, as Novacek missed the following season due to back injuries before retiring), increasing Dallas' lead to 10-0.After the Steelers managed to advance to the Dallas 36-yard line on their ensuing drive, the possession fell apart due to a miscue by center Dermontti Dawson. Pittsburgh had lined up in the shotgun formation, and Dawson's snap sailed over quarterback Neil O'Donnell's head. O'Donnell managed to recover the fumble, but the Steelers were unable to recover from the 13-yard loss and had to punt 2 plays later.After the punt, Dallas drove to the Steelers 24-yard line. However, a pass interference penalty on Irvin nullified a 24-yard touchdown reception, and moved the ball back to the 34-yard line. On the next play, Aikman completed a 19-yard pass to Novacek, bringing up second down and 1 to go from the 15-yard line. However, the Steelers defense stopped Smith for no gain on the next play, and then tackled him for a 3-yard loss on third down. Boniol then kicked a 35-yard field goal, increasing Dallas' lead to 13-0.After an exchange of punts, Steelers wide receiver Andre Hastings returned John Jett's punt 11 yards to the Pittsburgh 46-yard line. After O'Donnell's first down pass fell incomplete, Dallas linebacker Charles Haley then sacked the Steeler quarterback for a 10-yard loss, forcing 3rd down and 20. O'Donnell's next pass was a 19-yard completion to Hastings, and then a 3-yard fourth down run by wide receiver/backup quarterback Kordell Stewart netted a first down. Nine plays later, O'Donnell threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Yancey Thigpen with just 13 seconds left in the half, cutting Pittsburgh's deficit to 13-7.After the third quarter began with another exchange of punts, the Steelers advanced the ball to their own 48-yard line. However, on third down, Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown intercepted O'Donnell's pass at the Dallas 38-yard line and returned it 44 yards to the Pittsburgh 18-yard line. Aikman then completed a 17-yard pass to Irvin to reach the 1-yard line, setting up a 1-yard touchdown by Smith to increase Dallas' lead to 20-7.On their next drive, the Steelers had second down and 2 on their own 47-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs after running back Bam Morris was tackled for no gain on 3 consecutive running plays: a draw play to the left, a run to the left, and one to the middle. The Steeler defense held, however, forcing Dallas into a three-and-out; after a 6-yard run by Smith and an incompletion, Aikman's third down pass was broken up by defensive back Rod Woodson (who had missed most of the season due to a knee injury), forcing the Cowboys to punt.On their next drive, the Steelers advanced from their own 20-yard line to the Dallas 19. Dallas defensive end Tony Tolbert sacked O'Donnell on third down for a 9-yard loss, however, forcing Pittsburgh to settle for kicker Norm Johnson's 46-yard field goal with 11:20 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 20-10. On the ensuing kickoff, Pittsburgh surprised the Cowboys by executing a successful onside kick, with defensive back Deon Figures recovering the ball for Pittsburgh at their own 47-yard line. O'Donnell hit Hastings on two consecutive passes for 23 total yards. His next pass went to wide receiver Ernie Mills for 7 yards, and then Morris ran for 5 yards and caught a pass for a 6-yard gain to the Dallas 11-yard line. Three plays later, Morris scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, cutting Pittsburgh's deficit to 20-17.With the aid of linebacker Levon Kirkland's 8-yard sack on Aikman, the Cowboys were forced to punt on their next drive and Pittsburgh regained possession of the ball at their own 32-yard line with 4:15 remaining. On second down, however, Brown intercepted another O'Donnell pass and returned it 33 yards to the Steelers' 6-yard line.Two plays later, Smith scored once again with 3:43 left in the game, increasing the Cowboy lead to 27-17. The Steelers responded by driving to the Dallas 40-yard line, but after O'Donnell threw 4 consecutive incompletions, Pittsburgh turned the ball over on downs with 1:42 left in the game. After that, Dallas ran out most of the clock with three quarterback kneels and an intentional delay of the game penalty before punting the ball back to the Steelers. Pittsburgh regained possession of the ball with three seconds remaining, but O'Donnell's hail mary pass was intercepted by Dallas safety Brock Marion on the final play of the game.The Steelers had outgained the Cowboys in total yards, 310-254 (201-61 in the second half) had 25 first downs compared to the Cowboys 15, and limited Dallas' powerful running attack to just 56 yards. However, they were unable to overcome O'Donnell's interceptions, which led to two Cowboy touchdowns. The irony of the game was that O'Donnell entered Super Bowl XXX as the NFL's career leader in fewest interceptions per pass attempt.Troy Aikman finished the game with 15 out of 23 completions for 209 yards and a touchdown (Aikman became just the third quarterback to win three Super Bowls; Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana each won four). Smith was the Cowboys' leading rusher with 49 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. (Smith became just the 5th player to score a touchdown in three different Super Bowls, joining Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas and Jerry Rice; he also became the first player to rush for two touchdowns in two different Super Bowls). Irvin was Dallas' top receiver with 5 catches for 76 yards. Novacek caught 5 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Defensive end Chad Hennings recorded 2 sacks.Although his 3 interceptions were costly, O'Donnell recorded 28 of 49 completions for 239 yards and a touchdown. Morris was the top rusher of the game with 73 yards and a touchdown, and caught 3 passes for 18 yards. Hastings was the top receiver of the game with 10 receptions for 98 yards, and returned 2 punts for 18 yards. Mills caught 8 passes for 78 yards and gained 79 yards on 4 kickoff returns, giving him 157 total yards.Charles Haley became the first player to win 5 Super Bowls, winning two with San Francisco (XXIII and XXIV) and two previously with Dallas (XXVII and XXVIII). Barry Switzer became the second head coach, after former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, to win a college football national championship (University of Oklahoma 1974, 1975, 1985) and a Super Bowl title.After a many-year long tradition of presenting the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the winning team in its locker room after the game, the NFL instituted an on-the-field presentation ceremony for Super Bowl XXX. This new tradition has been followed by the NFL ever since.The outcome of the game had rather large ramifications for two soon-to-be free agents after their performances. Larry Brown, who was named Super Bowl MVP for his two interceptions, parlayed his performance into a lucrative free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. However, he was not very effective and was cut from the team after two injury-plagued seasons. Neil O'Donnell left the Steelers in the offseason and signed a long-term free agent contract with the New York Jets, accepting New York's more lucrative offer. O'Donnell's tenure in New York, like Brown's in Oakland, was plagued by injuries and ineffective play and he was released from his contract following the 1997 season. Both players finished their careers as backups, Brown returning to the Cowboys in 1998 and O'Donnell playing for the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans until his retirement in 2003.
Both defenses dominated early in the first quarter as the first five possessions of the game ended in punts. On the fifth punt, Ravens kickoff/punt returner Jermaine Lewis returned the ball 33 yards to the New York 31-yard line. Although a holding penalty on the return moved the ball back to the 41-yard line, Baltimore took only two plays to score on quarterback Trent Dilfer's 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Stokley.Early in the second quarter, a holding penalty against the Giants nullified linebacker Jessie Armstead's 43-yard interception return for a touchdown that would have tied the game. Later in the period, Dilfer completed a 44-yard pass to receiver Qadry Ismail to set up a 47-yard field goal by Ravens kicker Matt Stover to extend Baltimore's lead, 10-0. With the aid of a 27-yard run from running back Tiki Barber, the Giants advanced all the way to the Ravens' 29-yard line on their ensuing drive, but Baltimore defensive back Chris McAlister intercepted a pass from Kerry Collins to keep New York scoreless at halftime.The Giants forced the Ravens to punt on the opening drive of the second half. Five plays later, Baltimore safety Kim Herring intercepted Collins at the New York 41-yard line. The Ravens then advanced to the 24-yard line, but the drive stalled and Stover missed a 41-yard field goal attempt.After an exchange of punts, Baltimore defensive back Duane Starks intercepted a pass from Collins and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown, setting off a chain of events unseen before in Super Bowl history: three touchdowns on three consecutive plays in 36 seconds. On the ensuing kickoff, Ron Dixon returned the ball 97 yards for the Giants' first and only score of the game. But Jermaine Lewis returned the next kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown, making the score 24-7 for the Ravens. It was the first time in history two kickoffs were returned for touchdowns in the same Super Bowl game, and on back-to-back kickoffs.The Giants gained only one first down on their final four possessions, and were never able to move the ball into Baltimore territory. Meanwhile the Ravens added 10 more points to their lead, making the final score 34-7. A few possessions after Jermaine Lewis' touchdown, New York punter Brad Maynard's 34-yard punt from his own 4 to the 38-yard line and tight end Ben Coates' 17-yard reception set up a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Jamal Lewis early in the fourth quarter. Dixon fumbled the ensuing kickoff to Baltimore defender Robert Bailey, setting up Stover's 34-yard field goal with 5:27 left in the game.
Well, we've got a lot of exciting new things coming up at the Gridiron Uniform Database, so "stay tuned." Tomorrow is the Pro Bowl, and the Super Bowl is only a week away. Look for some exciting Super Bowl Trivia question from our historian Tim Brulia in the coming days.