The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 29, 1996 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Monday, January 29, 1996
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THE SAG OURNAL Sports SCOREBOARD / B2 SUPER BOWL / B3 COLLEGE BASKETBALL / B4 B T SUPER BOWL Dallas dumps Steelers fdr third Super Bowl in past four seasons By DAVE GOLDBERG The Associated Press TEMPE, Ariz. — Those limo- ridin' glamour boys from Dallas backed up their bluster, but barely. And they can thank one of their least glamorous players, defensive, back Larry Brown, for their third Super Bowl victory in four years. The Cowboys beat Pittsburgh 2717 Sunday to extend the NFC's streak of victories in the NFL's showcase game to an even dozen. "There were high expectations but it was a relief just the same," quarterback Troy Aikman said. "It wasn't the prettiest game we played, the defense really stepped it up, but a win is a win. We knew it would be a tough game." •For coach Barry Switzer, who had to win a Super Bowl to be considered anything but a failure, it was more than enough. "We did it our way, baby! We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it!" Switzer shouted. They did it without a big game from Troy, Emmitt, Michael and Deion during a second half in which Pittsburgh had the ball for 21 of the 30 minutes. Instead, the Super Bowl's most valuable player was Brown, a former 12th round draft pick. Brown's 44-yard interception return in the third quarter of Neil O'Donnell's pass set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Emmitt Smith that put Dallas up 20-7. This came after Pittsburgh, which fell behind 13-0, seemed ready to take the lead. Then, after Pittsburgh had closed to 20-17 and had the ball with four minutes left, Brown, just as he did to seal the NFC title game with Green Bay, made another interception, returning it 33 yards to set up another Smith TD run, this one of four yards. Only then did the Cowboys celebrate a struggling Super Bowl victory that capped a struggling season. And the hugs in the end zone reflected relief more than the "in-your- face" braggadocio with which the Cowboys faced Super Bowl week. "This ball game represents the kind of season we've had," said owner Jerry Jones hi accepting the Vince Lombard! Trophy from commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who had bitterly attacked Jones on national television earlier in the day. "This was a struggle," said Jones, who turned away quickly from Tagliabue as he accepted the trophy. "But this for me was the sweetest." Smith gave Switzer all the credit. "This is one for coach Switzer, who took all that abuse — the dumb and dumber thing," he said. But it was not the way the Cowboys had hoped. Aikman, who at one point in the first half completed 10 straight passes, tying Phil Simms for second place hi Super Bowl history behind Joe Montana's 13, was good early but finished 15 of 23 for 209 yards. And Smith, whose fourth and fifth rushing touchdowns^passed Franco Harris and Thurman Thomas for the most in Super Bowl history, was held to just 49 yards in 18 carries, far short of the 115 he needed to become the leading rusher in Super Bowl world champs again history. Twenty-three of his yards came on the third play of the game. But it was the defense that did it, led by Brown. "We were prepared for overtime. It's fortunate we won in regulation," said the man who prevented that from happening. The defense registered four sacks, one by Charles Haley, who was playing his first game since undergoing back surgery seven weeks ago. Haley, who was on two champions in San Francisco, became the first player to win five Super Bowl rings. That rush, plus some slippery footing may have been responsible for O'Donnell's problems. He finished 28 of 49 for 239 yards and three interceptions, the last on the game's final play. "Neil got us here. Without Neil O'Donnell we wouldn't be playing at the last of January," coach Bill Cowher said. Heck of a year or not, the Steelers probably would have gotten to what Cowher called "the top of the mountain" had O'Donnell not thrown those two balls to Brown. Dallas, 13-1/2-point favorites, controlled the'first half, with help from O'Donnell, who was high and outside most of the time. But while they scored on their first three possessions, they could convert those only into 13 points, leaving the Steelers within striking range, even with O'Donnell struggling so much. Then the Steelers, as they have so often, scored hi the last two minutes, to make it 13-7 at halftime. But while the Dallas offense fizzled, the defense didn't, particularly Brown, who joined Miami's Jake Scott 23 years ago as the only other defensive back to win a Super Bowl MVP trophy. And that was enough for Dallas to join San Francisco as only teams to win five Super Bowls. The Associated Press One play took Steelers out of game, sealed Dallas' Super Bowl win By The Associated Press TEMPE, Ariz. — A bad pass. A blown route. Dallas cornerback Larry Brown made Pittsburgh pay for it both times. Brown's interception and 44-yard return of a Neil O'Donnell pass to the Steelers' 18-yard line early in the third quarter changed the complexion of Sunday's Super Bowl. He then sealed Dallas' 27-17 victory with his second interception and a 33-yard return to the Pittsburgh 6 with 4:01 remaining. The Steelers, trailing 13-7 at halftime, appeared to be driving toward a go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter. O'Donnell, who had thrown seven interceptions in the regular season and three in the playoffs prior to Sunday, was faced with a third- and-9 at his team's 48-yard line. With good protection out of the shotgun formation, O'Donnell looked downfield and lofted a perfect spiral, expecting either Yancey Thigpen or Ernie Mills to be open on an out route. But both wide receivers ran down-and-in patterns toward the middle of the field. No one was within 10 yards of Brown when he made the interception at the Dallas 38 and raced up the sidelines before being pushed out of bounds by guard Justin Strzelczyk. It was Brown's fourth career playoff interception and second in two games. His pickoff of a Brett Favre pass set up the final touchdown in Dallas' 38-27 win over Green Bay in the NFC title game. This time,.Brown's interception set up the game-winning score of the Super Bowl. Troy Aikman's 17-yard pass to Michael Irvin put the ball on the 1 and Emmitt Smith bulled into the end zone on the next play for a 20-7 lead with 6:42 remaining. Pittsburgh rallied to close to 2017 and was again driving toward a go-ahead score when Brown stepped in front of a hurried O'Donnell pass thrown toward the sidelines at the Steelers' 39. Again, he was all alone, and he was run out at the Steelers' 6. Dallas' Michael Irvin (88) and Emmitt Smith celebrate Sunday's Super Bowl victory. Brown an unlikely hero for Cowboys The Associated Press Dallas coach Barry Switzer receives the Vlnce Lombard! Trophy for winning Super Bowl XXX. Defensive back saves day for Dallas and earns MVP award By The Associated Press TEMPE, Ariz. — Twice, Larry Brown waited in the Dallas secondary with the Cowboys needing a break. And twice he provided it with game-turning interceptions that made him the Super Bowl MVP in the 27-17 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Larry Brown? On a team bulging with big name stars like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Deion T MAGIC'S RETURN Report; Johnson's back Tuesday NBC reports Magic will announce his return to Lakers today and will be in uniform Tuesday night By The Associated Press INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Magic Johnson reportedly has signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and will return-to the NBA Tuesday night in a home game against the Golden State Warriors. A Lakers spokesman, however, denied NBC-TV's report Sunday, which said Johnson's comeback would be officially announced today at a news conference in Los Angeles. The network cited unidentified sources in the league and close to Johnson. Lakers spokesman John Black said Johnson had not signed a contract and that no news conference was scheduled for today. Asked whether Johnson would be hi uniform Tuesday night, Black said: "I'll have to refer you to Mr. Johnson. It's his decision whether he comes back. We can't speak for him." Johnson's agent, Lon Rosen, did not immediately return calls made to his home and office. NBC said the Lakers had worked out a way for Johnson to sell his 5 percent ownership of the team to make his comeback. The Los Angeles Times, citing unidentified sources, reported Saturday that Johnson had agreed hi principle to a contract that would pay him $2.5 million for the rest of the season. Lakers forward Cedric Ceballos indicated Saturday night that Johnson likely would return to the team this week. "Tuesday's the day, all indications prove that," Ceballos said before the Lakers game at New Jersey. "He's trying to sell his percentage. He's bought about a 100-something tickets for the game. I know he wants to play in that game and warm himself up for Michael Jordan." Johnson, 36, initially retired in November 1991, after announcing he had the AIDS virus. He retired from the NBA for a second tune before the 1992-93 season because some players opposed his playing because he was HIV-positive. The virus causes AIDS. Johnson has been non-committal about returning to the Lakers. However, he has practiced with the Lakers the past two weeks. "It's always in the rumor stage until it .definitely happens ..." Lakers coach Del Harris said; "But I'm on record, coast-to-coast, as saying I've always been in favor of it and our team is in favor of it." There also is seemingly little opposition from others in the league to his return. Everyone from Jordan to Charles Barkley is ready to welcome him back. JOHNSON Sanders, Brown was an unlikely hero, a mostly anonymous guy working hi the secondary. Brown was an NFL longshot right from the start, a 12th-round draft choice out of Texas Christian in 1991, the 57th defensive back chosen that year. He was only a two-year starter at TCU but earned some attention with 75 tackles and 10 passes defended hi his senior year. When he was MVP of the Blue-Gray game, it made him a prospect. Twelfth-rounders don't usually stick around very long. Brown not only stuck but by the fourth game of his rookie year, he was a starter on a rebuilding Dallas team. And he's been hi place ever since, there when the Cowboys won two Super Bowls V KANSAS BASKETBALL under Jimmy Johnson and still there Sunday night when they captured their third in four years. During the season, Brown tied for the team lead with six interceptions, pushing his career total to 13. None, though, will be remembered as well as the two he made Sunday night. With Dallas leading 13-7 in the third quarter, the Steelers started from their own 36 and were near midfield, facing a third-and-9. Neil O'Donnell went into a shotgun formation and threw the ball straight at Brown, stationed at the Dallas 38. The Cowboys defender returned the pass 44 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Pittsburgh 18. Two plays later, Dallas was hi the end zone, extending, its lead to 20-7. The Steelers simply wouldn't go away, though. They cut the lead to 20-10 on a 46-yard field goal by Norm Johnson, then recovered an onside kick and drove to another touchdown to trail 20-17. The Cowboys seemed to be reeling. With 4:15 left to play, Pittsburgh took over again at its own 32. On second down, O'Donnell, working on a string of 11 completions hi 12 attempts, went to the shotgun again, throwing for Corey Holliday. Again, though, he found Brown, this tune at the Steelers' 39. * More coverage/ Page B3 Jayhawks rock Cornhuskers Williams gets 200th victory as Kansas downs Nebraska, 88-73 By HAROLD BECHARD The Salina Journal LINCOLN, Neb. — The Kansas Jayhawks are making it a habit of putting the hammer down in the second half. It happened again Sunday afternoon when the Jayhawks blitzed Nebraska with an impressive second-half run that had the Corn- huskers playing catch-up for the rest of the game. And that's what the Big Eight Conference race is starting to look like as the Jayhawks seem ready to run away and hide from the rest of the league. The third-ranked Jayhawks gave coach Roy Williams his 200th career victory Sunday and did it in impressive fashion by waxing Nebraska, 88-73, at the sold-out Devaney Sports Center. "I wanted to win number 16 more than 200," Williams said. "With number 16, you get instant gratification for the kids." Kansas, now 4-0 in the Big Eight and 16-1 overall, took most of the suspense out of the nationally-televised game with a 25-8 steamrolling of Nebraska in the first eight minutes of the second half. And this was the same Nebraska team that had whipped up on Missouri by 18 points on the same floor just four days earlier. "It kind of baffles me to realize that we won by 15 points here," KU junior guard WILLIAMS Jacque Vaughn said. "To come into this place and do that is big-time." Nebraska (3-2 and 15-5) did make a run at the Jayhawks down the stretch, but were never closer than six points as Kansas, ranked No. 7 in the conference in free throw shooting, hit 10 of 12 in the final four minutes. "Today, we knocked them down," KU guard Jerod Haase said of his team's 28 of 37 shooting from the line. "I thought we played really well. This is an extremely difficult place to play." Haase, like many of his teammates, struggled in the first half. The Jayhawks hit just 30 percent from the field, but still led by a point (36-35) at intermission. "We were fairly lethargic in the first half, and I told the guys we had to rev up our engines," Williams said! "We were running in quicksand out there and I told the kids we were pretty lucky. "We could have been down by twenty-five, but we caught Nebraska on an off-day when their shots wouldn't go in." It wasn't quite that simple. Kansas also had a 42-33 advantage in rebounding (including 20 on the offensive end) and, after having more turnovers (nine) than assists (six) in the first half, turned those numbers around in the final 20 minutes. The heroes were aplenty. • Paul Pierce showed once again what all the recruiting fuss was about last year. The 6-foot-6 freshman scored 25 points (nailing 5 of 7 3-pointers) and buried a couple shots late when Nebraska was still threatening. See KANSAS, Page B4 SUGGESTIONS? CALL BOB DAVIDSON, SPORTS EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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