The “Dot.com” Super Bowl That Gave Football “The Tackle!”
One of the most beloved Super Bowls, and one that sits very high on the ‘Top Ten’ list of best games of all time, was actually referred to as the “dot-com” Super Bowl, being as that it was held during the height of the “dot-com bubble” and several internet companies purchased television commercials that seemed to run on forever.
The actual game, however, was fantastic, and added “The Tackle” into the record books for all time. Super Bowl XXXIV pitted the NFC champion, St. Louis Rams against the AFC champion, Tennessee Titans on January 30, 2000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Rams entered their second Super Bowl in team history with an NFC-best 13–3 regular season record. It was the franchise’s first playoff appearance in ten years. The Titans also finished the regular season with a 13–3 record, but this was their first Super Bowl in team history after entering the playoffs as a wild-card.
The first two quarters of this Super Bowl were largely a defensive battle. This is a nicer way of saying that it was like watching a really boring movie for hours on end. Between injuries, missed field goal attempts and punts, this was one of those games that wasn’t exactly action-packed from the opening play. Despite out-gaining the Titans in total offensive yards in the first half, the Rams held only a 9–0 halftime lead with three field goals. But, yes, there IS a very big reason why this game is on the list of the top ten.
The Rams literally shocked the NFL in 1999 with an NFC-best 13–3 regular season record, only a year after finishing 4-12. St. Louis was led by quarterback, Kurt Warner, who started the season as a backup but, due to injuries, became the starter. In his first NFL season in 1998, Warner played only one game and threw just eleven passes. But in 1999, he experienced one of the most spectacular seasons ever had by a quarterback, recording a passer rating of 109.2. He was not the only Ram compiling amazing stats, however. Running back, Marshall Faulk, in his first year in St. Louis after spending five seasons with the Colts would win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, gaining a record 2,429 total yards.
The Rams’ defense also led the league in fewest rushing yards allowed and fewest rushing touchdowns allowed, ranking 4th in the league in fewest total yards allowed (5,056).
On the other side was the Tennessee Titans, who advanced to their first Super Bowl in team history. From 1960 to 1996, the team was known as the Houston Oilers. But in 1995, they were lured from Houston to a brand new stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The 1999 Titans were led by quarterback Steve McNair and running back Eddie George.
The Titans were the most memorable team in postseason play when they narrowly defeated the Buffalo Bills, 22–16, on a famous, “trick kickoff return play” that became known as the Music City Miracle.
When January 2000 appeared, so did two ice storms that slammed the Atlanta area within a week of each other. The second occurred during the week of the Super Bowl and made everything around the stadium a great big mess. But the game, of course, went on as planned. One of the most frightening moments was when cornerback, Blaine Bishop, made a tackle, but suffered a spinal injury and had to leave the game. The game was delayed for several minutes while Bishop was being treated.
But with only six seconds left in the game, a play occurred that went down in NFL history as simply “The Tackle,” and all of a sudden this slow game became one of the most memorable of all time.
The Titans had just used their final timeout with six seconds remaining. With no timeouts and the ball on the Rams’ ten-yard-line, the Titans were trailing by a touchdown and had only one final opportunity to tie the game. The ‘plan’ was to use tight end, Frank Wycheck, as a decoy; he would run straight up the field on the right side to lure linebacker, Mike Jones, away from the receiver, Kevin Dyson. Dyson would then slant left through the middle of the field. With Jones occupying Wycheck, the quarterback would pass the ball to Dyson, who would then be open from about five yards out for the score.
As the play began, everything appeared to go perfectly, as Jones ran with Wycheck up the field at the beginning of the play. However, as the pass was being delivered to Dyson, Jones – who was at the goal line – glanced over his left shoulder and noticed an open Dyson catching the ball. Jones quickly switched directions and ran towards the Titans’ receiver. As Dyson ran directly toward the end zone, his legs were wrapped up by Jones with about two and a half yards left to the goal line.
Since Dyson was being tackled by the legs, there was still the possibility he could ‘reach out’ towards the end zone and get the ball over the goal line. Both players went into a rolling motion as Dyson stretched out his hand in the hopes of scoring. Although he was close, and the ball was mere inches away from the end zone, it was still not quite enough to score. As the rolling motion came to an end, with Jones on top of Dyson’s legs, his shoulder touched the ground…and the game was over. Had Dyson scored and the extra point had been made, it would have been the very first Super Bowl in history to go into overtime.
“The Tackle” is still considered to be one of the greatest and most exciting game-ending plays in modern NFL history. The image of Dyson stretching the ball towards the goal line with Jones wrapped around him has become a staple of NFL highlights. ESPN.com even ranked it as the 35th greatest moment of the past twenty-five years in sports.
A great ending to a rather lackluster game! I wonder what the 2012 Super Bowl will add to those historic highlight reels?
Until Next Time, Everybody.