SOUTH FLORIDA, February 1, 2014 — The turn of the century featured some thrilling Super Bowls and some bizarre phenomena. There was Tebowmania, and a guy catching a football on his helmet. The winning touchdown in one Super Bowl was scored by accident. On the sad side, some original owners passed away as Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders, Bud Adams of the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, and Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens departed. As America gets ready for Super Bowl XLVIII, looking back allows us to cherish some great Super Bowl memories.
This is the final installment in an eight-part series on the history of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVI, 2011 — This was 2007 all over again. The New York Giants were 7-7 and Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat. The last week of the season the Giants defeated the archrival Dallas Cowboys to win the division and eke into the playoffs at 9-7. They crushed the 10-6 Atlanta Falcons 24-2. Then they shocked the 15-1 defending champion Green Bay Packers 37-20. The Giants won a defensive overtime slugfest against the 13-3 San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in the NFC Title Game. San Francisco return man Kyle Williams fumbled one punt in the fourth quarter and another in overtime that allowed the outplayed Giants to survive.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots were 13-3 and the top seed for the second straight year. They crushed the 8-8 Denver Broncos and ended Tebowmania for the year. The Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and San Diego Chargers all finished 8-8, but Denver won the tie-breaker as the Tim Tebow story cast aside the story of the death of Al Davis.
In the AFC Title Game, New England and the Baltimore Ravens played a thriller. The Patriots trailed 20-16 and faced fourth and goal at the one in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady leapt over the top to put the Patriots in front. With seconds left in the game, the Ravens with Joe Flacco thought they had the winning touchdown pass. Lee Evans had it in is hands. At the last moment Patriots defender Sterling Moore chopped it out.
Moore began the year on the Raiders practice squad. Now he was a hero on his way to the Super Bowl. The Ravens still could have tied the game, but Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed saw their trip to the Super Bowl wash away as the Patriots 23-20 victory was yet another three-point win in a decade of three-point victories.
The Giants and Patriots met in the regular season in New England. A 0-0 game at the half became a quarterback thriller late. Brady put the Patriots ahead by three points with only 1:36 remaining. That was enough for Eli Manning. Rather than play for the tie, he passed the Giants to a 24-20 win in front of a stunned home crowd.
The Patriots led the rematch 17-15 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining when a third down pass from Brady to Wes Welker was catchable, but high and incomplete. Welker could have all but sealed the game. Instead the Giants took a lead with the strangest touchdown in Super Bowl history.
Ahmad Bradshaw was supposed to stop at the one yard line so the Giants could bleed the clock. The Patriots were letting him score, and Bradshaw tried to stop, but fell backward into the end zone. The Giants had the lead but Brady still had over one minute to work another miracle. On the final play of the game, Brady’s Hail Mary reached the end zone and hung in the air forever before falling incomplete.
Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl ring and surpassed older brother Peyton in the house that Peyton built, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Tom Coughlin went in several weeks from the verge of the unemployment line to a legitimate contender for the Hall of Fame with his second ring. Coughlin tied his former boss Bill “The Tuna” Parcells. 21-17 Giants
Super Bowl XLVII, 2012 — Three of the four teams from the previous year’s Conference Title Games returned. In the NFC, the 49ers were at the Atlanta Falcons and trailed 17-0 at halftime. The 49ers mounted a furious rally and led by four points late when the Falcons drove to the San Francisco 10 yard line in the closing seconds. With everything on the line, the 49ers held on defense for the 28-24 win.
In the AFC, Peyton Manning was now with the Denver Broncos. Denver led the Baltimore Ravens 35-28 with barely more than 30 seconds to play. The Ravens needed a miracle and got one. Joe Flacco threw a 70-yard bomb that was completed to Jacoby Jones when the defender mistimed the jump. In double overtime, an interception of Manning led to the winning field goal for Baltimore 38-35.
The AFC Title Game was a rematch, again in New England. The Patriots led 13-7 at halftime, but this time there would be no suspense. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the Baltimore Ravens defense took the Patriots and hit them in the mouth for a 28-13 win.
The Super Bowl was the “Harbowl,” since Ravens Coach John Harbaugh and 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh are brothers. When Jacoby Jones returned the second half kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, the Ravens were cruising with a 28-6 lead. Then things got bizarre as the power went out in the stadium.
After a 34-minute delay, momentum changed and the 49ers clawed back to within five points with a chance to win it. Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Baltimore five yard line. Four chances yielded nothing as the Ravens survived a thriller. Ray Lewis retired after the game and Ed Reed played his final game for Baltimore by going out on top. 34-29 Ravens