Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on January 31, 2000 · Page 5
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 5

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Ukiah, California
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Monday, January 31, 2000
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Page 5
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By BAftRY WILNER AP football Writer ATLANTA This was why they invented the Super Bowl. This one had long touchdowns, record- setting performances, courageous comebacks and a . thrilling finish. Nobody could have asked for more than the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans supplied Sunday. That the Rams held on - by inches for a 23-16 victory didn't necessarily make the Titans losers. Each team could leave the Georgia Dome with pride. "It was a fight to the finish," said Rams receiver Isaac Bruce, who caught the 73-yard game-winning pass from Kurt Warner just 18 seconds after the Titans overcame a 16-0 deficit to tie it. "It was one of the best games I've ever played in. I am just proud to be part of this." As were the Titans, who fell just short when Kevin Dyson was tackled by linebacker Mike Jones at the 1 as time hold off Titans 23-16 in thrilling Super Bowl „,..... . _ ^^ •*• Warner named MVP By HAL BOCK AP Sports Writer ATLANTA - This one was .for every kid who was ever told he couldn't play, every kid who •was ever cut by the big boys and sent on his way. -. This one was for super market clerks and Arena League players, guys on the outside looking in, dreaming about what it must be like to play in the Super Bowl and be the MVP: ;; . : :",...>;;:'..,...,..,,. This one was for Ku^rt Warner, as unlikely "a'success story as this game has ever uncovered. . Tick off the names of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks whVve been Super Bowl MVPs j-' Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw. None of them ever accomplished what Warner did on one magical night at the Georgia Dome. The outcast quarterback with the humble credentials passed For a record 414 yards, leading the St. Louis Rams to a 23-16 Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans. * And when he was asked if he thought of other Super Bowl quarterbacks, guys like John Elway, Bart Starr, Troy Aikman and Steve Young, Warner just smiled. ''"All I thought about," he said, "was that ring. We worked hard. We made the one play that put us over the top." 'That came with just under two minutes left, after Tennessee wiped out a 16-0 Rams lead and tied the game. Now the football was back in Warner's hands. No problem. The onetime super market stock clerk who played college bail at Northern Iowa had been in this situation many times before, when he was packing shelves in Cedar Falls, Iowa, when he was play- ipg in the Arena League for the fo.wa Barnstormers, when he \yas in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. "He made it sound like there w£s nothing to it. " "We've got two minutes," Warner said. "We've been up and down the field all day. There was no reason we could- • n't move it for a field goal to win it. By no means were we doubting that we could win the game." > And he did exactly that. Not with a field goal. That would be so ordinary, hardly a fitting end for his heroic season. Instead, Warner unloaded a pass down the right sideline. Isaac Bruce caught it and turned it mto a 73-yard touchdown. "It was a go route," he said. "We called it earlier and !*aac beat his guy. We thought we cpuld get a big one right off the baj. Murb* they weren't skpectingjt." ran out. "To come this far and be a half-yard short is just a sick feeling," Dyson said. "But this team leaves here winners inside." They weren't winners on the scoreboard because Jones made a classic tackle on the final play. It was the last of a Super series of second-half plays providing a scintillating finish. "I said, 'This time, no matter who it is, I can't let him in the end zone,'" Jones said. '"We got a chance to win this game. Get him On the ground.' "They've got the hearts of warriors. They were down 16-0, and a lot of teams would have tucked tail." At the end, all of these warriors were worn out. The Rams' defenders barely could stand, and the Titans' attackers were just as wobbly. "Football is the most emotional roller coaster you can be on," Dyson said. "It leaves you with nothing left emotionally.". Tennessee could do nothing in the first half, which the Rams dominated. St. Louis gained 294 yards to 89 for the Titans. The Rams ran 44 plays to 24 for Tennessee. League MVP Kurt Warner, who also won the game's most valuable player award, already had 19 completions and 270 yards. But it was just 9-0 on Jeff Wilkins' field goals of 27,29 and 28 yards. Every time the Rams, whose 526 points were the third-highest in league history, got near the end zone, they couldn't get it in. "We were getting points, but we knew we had to get the ball in the end zone," said Bruce, who would make six catches for 162 yards. "We couldn't win with just field goals." They stopped kicking for points on their first drive of the second half, when Warner found rookie Torry Holt for a 9- yard score. The touchdown came three plays after safety Blaine Bishop was carted off the field with a neck injury. He later returned to the Dome after going to the hospital for X-rays, which were negative. St. Louis (16-3), a city that never had a pro football champion, was up 16-0 and looking at a potential rout. Finally, Steve McNair and Eddie George got on track for the Titans (164), who took the difficult wild-card route to their first Super Bowl. McNair engineered a 12-play, 66-yard drive that included 23-yard run to the St. Louis 2. George scored from the 1, but a 2-point pass went behind Frank Wycheck. Emboldened, the Titans forced a Rams punt for the first time, and George scored on a magnificent 2-yard run on which he broke three tackles. Suddenly, it was 16-13, and when the Rams once more went 3-and-out, Tennessee was in charge. "In the second half, the guys buckled down and made things happen," said McNair, who showed no signs of a painful toe injury that has plagued him for the last month. They had to make things happen one more time to even things, and thanks to Mike Koran's 30-yard punt, they did. Al Del Greco made a 43-yard field goal with 2:12 to go, and the first overtime in Super Bowl history seemed likely. Then again, the Rams don't believe in the probable. After all, this was a team that went 5-11 and 4-12 in coach Dick Vermeil's first two seasons following a 14-year hiatus. This was a team quarterbacked by a former Arena League and NFL Europe player who once stocked shelves in a supermarket. And this was a team that has struck quickly quite frequently this season. So why not win a Super Bowl that way? "Isaac is our go-to guy," said Warne)-, who set a Super Bowl record with 414 yards passing. "He's made big plays for us all year and we knew he could make another one." '. Warner came back for a deep pass that was a bit short. Cornerback Denard Walker fell as he tried to go for Bruce, leaving an alley that Bruce sped down for the winning touchdown with 1:54 remaining. Tennessee, of course, had other ideas. And McNair got the Titans as close as possible to overtime. He led them from their 12 to the Rams 10 with time for one play. That play was the in-cut to Dyson, who stretched and stretched, but couldn't reach the goal line. "You just want to get them down any way possible," Jones said. "First you think, 'Lock this guy up and then get him down.' I stood up and looked at the clock and time was out, and I knew we were Super Bowl champions. "You dream of making an interception or a sack, not necessarily a tackle to win the game. But we'll take that. Without a doubt, it's the biggest play of my career. It won a Super Bowl on the last play." Eagles play Tuesday flic photo The Eagles will try to build on Friday's win at Contra Costa at Diablo Valley College Tuesday, before returning home to face Santa Rosa Friday night. Mendo, 3-5 Inlay Valley Conference play, had five players score In double figures in Friday's 70-64 win, including Josh Goepel (above) who netted a team-high 22 points. Both of this week's games are set for 7 p.m. McNair shows he's a champion By PAUL NEWBERRY AP Sports Writer ATLANTA - On a night when Steve McNair didn't lead his team to a Super Bowl championship, he might have finally proven he's the quarterback who can .do just that. Sure, he has a bit of trouble with deep passes. OK, he doesn't always see his secondary receivers. Maybe he's a little too anxious to flee the pocket and show off his running skills. But he's tough. He's fearless. And he's a leader. "The people who didn't know Steve'McNair before will know him. now," said Frante:.%cheek,; tight end for the Tennessee Titans. "Did you see that desire? Did you see that heart?" McNair, trying to become the second black quarterback to take his team to an NFL championship, guided a remarkable comeback Sunday that led the Titans to the brink of forcing the first overtime Super Bowl. He came up 1 yard short. The St. Louis Rams kept Kevin Dyson out of the end zone on the final play, holding on for a heart- stopping 23-16 victory. "I'm not trying to prove anything," McNair said. "Regardless of how I perform or what I do out on the field, I'm just trying to go out and help my teammates get the job done." McNair set a Super Bowl record for quarterbacks by rushing for 64 yards, including a 23- yard scramble that set up the Titans' first touchdown. On the final drive, he completed six passes for 48 yards and ran twice for 14 yards. His last pass was a quick slant over the middle, dubbed "Sliver Right" in the Tennessee playbook. McNair delivered the ball perfectly. But Dyson cut inside a little too quickly, and Rams linebacker Mike Jones made a great one-on-one tackle to keep him to a 9-yard gain. The Titans needed 10. "It's sad to come that close and come up short after playing such a great game," said McNair, who had a 12-3 record this season as the Titans starter, missing five games with a back injury. "That's the bad part of this game, Someone has got to lose, but why couldn't it be a tie?" ; The Titans seemed on the verge of a blowout in the first half, allowing the Rams to march up and down the field while Tennessee managed only 89 yards and six first downs. "They didn't do anything to stop us," McNair said. "We stopped ourselves." When St. Louis led 16-0,in the third quarter, the Titans appeared dead. After all, their quarterback went through a seven-game stretch with only one touchdown pass, and no 'team had ever overcome more than a 10-point Super Bowl, deficit to. win. But McNair, who has faced steady criticism since he took over as the Tennessee starter -ifl' 1997, teamed with Eddie George for a pair of touchdown drives, Then the Titans drove into position for Al Del Greco's tying field goal with 2:12 remaining; . Overtime seemed likely -7. until Kurt Warner threw a 73- yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce on the next play of scrimmage. :, McNair was undaunted, even when a penalty on the kickqff return pushed the Titans back-to; the 12, With 22 seconds remaining, Tennessee was on the Rams 22. Then came perhaps the most remarkable play in this most remarkable game. McNair scrambled right and kept going deeper and deeper, chased by Kevin Carter - the league's sack leader - and Jay Williams. Just when he seemed ready to go down at the 40, McNair slipped away from both St. Louis players - Houdini-like-and threw a pass to Dyson to the Rams 10. The Titans used their final timeout with six second left. "At the end, when he had nothing left, Steve made a phenomenal play to get the ball to Dyson and give us a chance to win," Wycheck said, Afterward, Carter still couldn't believe that McNair got away. "He's a warrior. He's a battler," Carter said. "He's got such a big heart. He battled back and tried to win the game for his team." SUPER BOWL STATS STATS 7 — 29 0 — 16 St Louli 3 6 Tenneaiee 0 9 nrat Quirtef SB.-FG WUkina 27,3:00. ItcondQuarter Stl-FGWitk!n|29,4:16. SU.-FG WllkJm 26. :15. • Third Quarter SiU-Hot! 9 past from Warner (Wilkins kick), 7:20. Ten—George 1 run (pasi lailed), :'4. Punt Retumi 2-8 H-1) Klcfcofl Returns 4-55 6-122 Intercept!?!* Rel. OX) 0-0 Comp-Att-lnl 24-45-022-36-0 Sacked-Yards Lost 1-7 1-6 Punti 2-38.53-43.0 FumblM-Loit 2-0 1-0 Penalties-Yards e-60 7-45 Time of Pos«eiilon23:3436:2e RECORDS TEAM Fourth Q««rtw Ten—George i X II III ... 2rW)(DelQrecokick), 7:21. Tm-FGCi«IGi»eo 43.8:12. SJL-flnio» 73 pan Irora Warner (WUklns kick), 1:64. A-7Z.625. RUSHING— St. Louis, Faglk 10-17, Hoteombt 1-11, wvw M. Hcnn i-o. TWTOHM, Gww 28-88, McNair 8-64 PASSING-SI, loun, wvmr 24-45-0414. Tennessae. MQN*lr22-36-0-2K. RECEIVINQ-St Uwll, Holt 7-109, Bruce 6-162, Fa* 6-80, Hajdm M7. Cornell 1-16, ProehlMI, ATLANTA (AP) - Record! 101 of lied In th» 2000 Super Bowl: WfflVUHMJ. Record! Set Moil Ruining Yards, Quarterback — 64, Steve McNair. Tennessee. Moil Palling Yard! - 414, Kurt W*m«r. SI- Lot*. Moil Rewcwos, Rookie — 7, Tony Holt, St. Louk. Moil Receiving Ytrdi, Rookie —109, Tony Haft Si OMesl HMd Coach to Win Super Bowl - 63, pick Vermeil, SI. Louli. Oldest Player In Super Bowl — 40, Mlk» Horan, St Louis. - _ „. Y»rdi, One Team — 407, Si Louli. F«w*|l RmSng Yards, Winning Team - 29, SI MMNtoTM Fewest Turnovers. Game. Both Teams — 0- Meet First Downs, Both Teams - SO, Tennessee (27), St. Louli (23). Most First Owl Passing - 18, St Louis. Moil Yards Passing. Both Teams -615 F«wMt imereeptlonj. Both Teams - o. Fewwt FumWei lost, Both Teams-0. Fewest RuiNng Attempts, Both Turn* - 49. MostFlekJ Qo* Btoc&d -1. SUouts. PLAYOFF GLANCE Minnesota 27. Dallas 10 Miami 20, Seattle 17 Divisional Gimet Saturday, Jen. U Jacksonville 62, Miami 7 , , 1 ' (ll * ngi V' TWO Blue* Yard»-ls*JW St Louis 49. Minnesota 37 Tennessee 19, Indianapolis 16 Conference Chimplonahipa Sundiy,Jan.2} Tennessee 33, Jacksonville 14 StLouli 11. Tampa Bay 6 Super Bowl Sunday, Jin. W At Atlanta ^ St Louis 23, Tennessee 16 Pro 1.2:30 p.m. (ABC)

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