Super Bowl XXXII was an American football game played on January 25, 1998 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion following the 1997 regular season. Qualcomm Stadium would also host the 1998 World Series, becoming the only stadium to host the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same calendar year.
The American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos (16–4) defeated the heavily favored National Football Conference (NFC) champion Green Bay Packers (15–4), 31–24. The Broncos' win was their first league championship after suffering four previous Super Bowl losses, and snapped a 13-game losing streak for AFC teams in the Super Bowl (the previous being the Los Angeles Raiders win in Super Bowl XVIII in 1984). The Broncos became just the second wild card team to win the Super Bowl and the first since the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.
Despite suffering a migraine headache that caused him to miss most of the second quarter, Denver running back Terrell Davis (a San Diego native) was named Super Bowl MVP. He ran for 157 yards, caught 2 passes for 8 yards, and scored a Super Bowl record three rushing touchdowns.
The last three Super Bowl losses were under starting quarterback John Elway, whose ad-libbing skills enabled the Broncos to advance to the league's championship game in a span of 3 out of four seasons. Elway also led his team to the 1991 AFC Championship Game, but they lost in a defensive struggle to the Buffalo Bills, 10–7.
The team's fortunes changed when Mike Shanahan became head coach of the Broncos in 1995. Shanahan was previously Denver's offensive coordinator during those Super Bowl losses, but was fired in 1991 after a power struggle between him and then-head coach Dan Reeves over the offensive personnel. Shanahan then served as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers from 1992 to 1994, including the 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX win. Under Shanahan, the San Francisco offense ranked first in the league in total yards gained for all three of his seasons there.
When Shanahan returned to the Broncos in 1995, he selected running back Terrell Davis in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Davis became the cornerstone of Denver's rebuilt running game, leading the team with 1,117 rushing yards in just his rookie year. The Broncos finished the 1995 regular season with just an 8–8 record. By 1996, the Broncos had the league's best offense, gaining 5,791 yards of total offense, and recorded the AFC's best regular season record at 13-3, but they were upset by the second-year Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-27, in the playoffs.
During the 1997 regular season, the Broncos once again had the league's best offense with 5,872 total yards of offense, and led the league in total points scored with 472. Although they recorded a 12-4 regular season record, they finished in second place behind the 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
Pro Bowler Davis remained the team's leading rusher, recording 1,750 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also catching 42 passes for 287 yards. At 37 years old, Elway still posted a Pro Bowl season with 280 out of 502 completions for 3,635, 27 touchdowns, with only 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 215 yards and another touchdown. Pro Bowl tight end Shannon Sharpe led the team with 72 receptions for 1,107 yards. Wide receiver Rod Smith, who was not drafted by any NFL team and recorded only 22 receptions for 389 yards and 3 touchdowns in his 2 previous seasons, had a breakout year with 70 receptions for 1,180 and 12 touchdowns. Wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who played in Shanahan's 1994 49ers offense, recorded 45 receptions for 590 yards and 8 touchdowns. Denver's offensive line was led by seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Gary Zimmerman and Pro Bowler Tom Nalen.
On defense, the major acquisition to the team prior to the season was former Chiefs defensive lineman Neil Smith. Smith had a Pro Bowl season for the 6th time in his career with 28 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Defensive end Alfred Williams recorded 36 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. The linebacking core was led by veteran Bill Romanowski, who had 55 tackles and 2 sacks, and John Mobley, who led the team with 97 tackles while also recording 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 interception.
The secondary was led by veteran defensive backs Tyrone Braxton, who led the team with 4 interceptions for 113 yards and 1 touchdown, and Steve Atwater, who had 53 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions for 42 yards and 1 touchdown. Defensive back Darrien Gordon recorded 50 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions, 64 return yards, and 1 touchdown. He also returned 40 punts for 543 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Quarterback Brett Favre had another Pro Bowl season and became the first player ever to win the NFL MVP award for the third consecutive year, leading the league with 35 passing touchdowns. Favre also completed 304 out of 513 attempts for 3,867 yards, with 16 interceptions, while ranking second on the team in rushing with 187 yards and a touchdown. Super Bowl XXXII would be Brett Favre's last Super Bowl appearance to date. Wide receiver Antonio Freeman led the team in receptions with 81 catches for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wide receiver Robert Brooks was also a major deep threat, catching 60 passes for 1,010 yards and 7 touchdowns. Pro Bowl tight end Mark Chmura recorded 38 receptions for 417 yards and 6 touchdowns. Pro Bowl running back Dorsey Levens led the team in rushing with 1,435 yards and 7 touchdowns, while also catching 53 passes for 373 yards and 5 touchdowns. Fullback William Henderson rushed for 113 yards and caught 41 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown.
On the Packers defense, the line was led by veteran Pro Bowler Reggie White, who led the team with 11 sacks. Behind him, the Packers lineman Santana Dotson recorded 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks. In the secondary, Pro Bowl defensive back LeRoy Butler led the team with 5 interceptions, while also adding 70 tackles. Safety Eugene Robinson led the team with 74 tackles while also recording 2.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 interception. Cornerback Mike Prior recorded 4 interceptions while rookie Darren Sharper recorded 2 of them, both of which he returned for touchdowns.
Each player wore a Super Bowl logo patch on their jerseys. This would become a regular practice in each Super Bowl since.
This broadcast was the last for NBC as the AFC network after 33 years (CBS has held the AFC broadcast rights ever since), their last NFL broadcast overall until 2006, when the they signed on to televise Sunday Night Football, and their last Super Bowl broadcast until 2009 (Super Bowl XLIII). This was also the last time Channel 4 in the UK would show the Super Bowl and their coverage of American football after they had been showing the event since 1983 (Super Bowl XVII). Only Sky Sports would show it live until Channel 5 joined them in 2003 (Super Bowl XXXVII).
To honor the 10th anniversary of the Washington Redskins' win in Super Bowl XXII, the only other previous Super Bowl played in San Diego, the game's MVP Doug Williams and former head coach Joe Gibbs participated during the coin toss ceremony. They were joined by the recently retired, longtime college football head coach Eddie Robinson, who ran the Grambling State University team from 1942 until 1997.
The Broncos stormed right back with a touchdown of their own. Denver running back Vaughn Hebron returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to their own 42-yard line. Denver then drove to the Green Bay 46-yard line. On third down, a holding penalty on Packers defensive back Doug Evans nullified quarterback John Elway's incompletion and gave the Broncos a first down. On the next play, running back Terrell Davis ran the ball 27 yards to the 14-yard line. Then after a 2-yard run by Davis, Elway scrambled 10-yards to gain a first down at the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Davis capped off the 10-play, 58-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game (this was the first Super Bowl in which both teams scored TDs on their opening drives).
On the second play of the Packers next possession, Denver defensive back Tyrone Braxton intecepted a pass from Favre at Green Bay's 45-yard line. Aided by 5 runs by Davis, the Broncos marched 45 yards to score on Elway's 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, taking a 14–7 lead.
Elway's touchdown play involved a fake handoff to Davis, who was previously taken out of the game during the drive because the onset of a migraine headache had severely impaired his vision. But head coach Mike Shanahan decided to send him into the game for the third down play, believing that the Packers would not be fooled by a fake handoff without Davis on the field. Davis later said his vision was so impaired that he was afraid Elway would call an audible at the line and try to hand him the ball. Despite his blurred vision, Davis perfectly executed the play and Green Bay defenders were fooled just enough to allow Elway to score. By the second half, Davis had taken migraine medication and his vision had returned to normal, allowing him to play the rest of the game.
On the Packers ensuing possession, Broncos safety Steve Atwater forced a fumble while sacking Favre, and defensive end Neil Smith recovered the ball on the Packers 33-yard line. Although the Broncos were unable to get a first down, kicker Jason Elam made a 51-yard field goal, the second longest in Super Bowl history, to increase Denver's lead to 17-7. Both teams went three-and-out on their next possessions, and Denver punter Tom Rouen's 47-yard kick planted Green Bay at their own 5-yard line with 7:38 left in the quarter. But Green Bay stormed down the field on their ensuing drive, marching 95 yards in 17 plays and scoring with Favre's 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Chmura with just 12 seconds left in the half. Thus by halftime, the Broncos held onto a slim 17–14 lead.
Green Bay kicked off once again and Denver's offense stalled, forcing a punt, giving the Packers good field position again near their 40 yard line. But for a third consecutive time, Denver's defense forced a "three and out." On the ensuing punt, again Denver's special teams was called for an offside penalty, giving Green Bay a fresh set of downs near midfield. Once again, Denver's defense forced a "three and out" for a fourth consecutive time. Marking back to back "six and outs" by Denver's defense to begin the second half to keep the score tied at 17–17.
Later in the quarter, Green Bay punter Craig Hentrich's 51-yard kick pinned the Broncos back at their own 8-yard line. But the Packers defense could not stop Denver as they marched on a 13-play, 92-yard drive to regain the lead. Aided by a 36-yard reception by receiver Ed McCaffrey, the Broncos advanced to the Green Bay 12-yard line. Then on third down, Elway scrambled for an 8-yard run and dove for the first down, a play in which he was hit so hard that he spun sideways through the air (This run has been later referred to as "The Dive"). Many consider The Dive as Elway's defining career moment and the defining moment of Super Bowl XXXII. Two plays later, Davis scored another 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Bronocs the lead, 24–17.
On the ensuing kick off, Denver's special teams player Detron Smith ran full speed into the wedge of the Green Bay blockers, forcing Antonio Freeman outside, to his left. Freeman was hit as he held the ball exposed running side ways and fumbled, Denver defensive back Tim McKyer recovered the ball at the Packers 22-yard line. Immediately the Broncos tried to capitalize on the turnover by trying to throw for a touchdown, a pass intended for Rod Smith as he ran a post pattern following a fake handoff and a roll out by Elway, but Packers safety Eugene Robinson intercepted Elway's pass in the end zone and returned it to the 15-yard line.
After the interception, the Packers marched 85 yards in just 4 plays, 3 of them receptions by Freeman, to tie it up once again 1:28 into the fourth quarter with Freeman's 13-yard touchdown catch. On the scoring play, Packers receivers Anotio Freeman and Robert Brooks ran a "criss-cross" pattern, with Antonio Freeman on the inside running towards the sidelines. Denver Defensive back Darrion Gordon hesitated as to which to cover and Farve hit Freeman for the score.
Both teams' defense tightened up, and the clubs exchanged punts twice. With Green Bay pinned at their own 10-yard line, Hentrich then kicked the ball 39 yards to the Packers 49-yard line with 3:27 left in the game. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Packers linebacker Darius Holland committed a 15-yard facemask penalty while tackling Davis on a 2-yard run, moving the ball to the 32-yard line. Two plays later, Elway completed a 23-yard pass to fullback Howard Griffith. A holding penalty pushed the Broncos back to the 18-yard line, but then Davis rushed 17 yards to the 1-yard line and the Broncos called a timeout. This left the Broncos facing second and goal with 1:47 left on the clock. The Packers had two timeouts remaining.
Packers coach Mike Holmgren told his team to let the Broncos score to maximize the time the Packers would have on the clock for a potentially game-tying drive. He admitted later that he had thought that it was first and goal rather than second and goal, crucial to clock management decision making on the play. Davis did score his third rushing touchdown on second and goal, leaving 1:45 on the clock. The Broncos now had a one touchdown lead, at 31-24.
The Packers attempted one final drive to try to tie the game before the end of regulation and send the contest into overtime. Freeman returned the Broncos kickoff 22 yards to the 30-yard line, and the Packers advanced to the Broncos' 35-yard line with 1:04 left in the game with a pair of completions from Favre to Levens for gains of 22 and 13 yards on the next 2 plays. After a 4-yard pass to Levens, Favre's next 2 passes fell incomplete. Then on fourth down, Denver linebacker John Mobley broke up a pass intended for Chmura, enabling the Broncos to take the ball back and run out the clock for the victory.
Elway finished the game with 12 out of 22 pass completions, for 123 yards and 1 interception. Elway became the sixth player to score touchdowns in three different Super Bowls, joining Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith. He was also the Broncos second leading rusher behind Davis with 17 rushing yards and a touchdown on 5 carries. Terrell Davis is the only player to rush for three touchdowns in a Super Bowl, and the only non-49er to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Roger Craig, Jerry Rice and Ricky Watters are the only other players to do so. Rice had 3 touchdown catches in two different Super Bowls. Davis' three touchdowns in the Super Bowl gave him a total of 48 points (8 touchdowns) during the postseason, an NFL record.
Levens was Green Bay's leading rusher with 90 rushing yards, and was their second leading receiver with 56 yards on 6 pass receptions. Both Freeman and Favre had outstanding performances for the second Super Bowl game in a row. Favre completed 25 out of 42 passes for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 1 interception. Freeman caught 9 passes for 126 yards, 2 touchdowns receptions, and also gained another 104 yards on 6 kickoff returns, giving him 230 total yards, the third highest total in Super Bowl history. Freeman also tied himself for second all-time in touchdown catches in Super Bowls with three, joining Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Cliff Branch. (Jerry Rice has the most with eight). He also became just the third player to have at least 100 yards receiving in back-to-back Super Bowls, joining Rice and Stallworth.
Denver became the first team to score on four one-yard touchdown runs in a Super Bowl. The Packers also became the third, and most recent, defending Super Bowl champion to lose the Super Bowl, joining the Dallas Cowboys (won Super Bowl XII, lost Super Bowl XIII) and the Washington Redskins (won Super Bowl XVII, lost Super Bowl XVIII).
|Ed McCaffrey||WR||Robert Brooks|
|Gary Zimmerman||LT||Ross Verba|
|Mark Schlereth||LG||Aaron Taylor|
|Tom Nalen||C||Frank Winters|
|Brian Habib||RG||Adam Timmerman|
|Tony Jones||RT||Earl Dotson|
|Shannon Sharpe||TE||Mark Chmura|
|Rod Smith||WR||Antonio Freeman|
|John Elway||QB||Brett Favre|
|Terrell Davis||RB||Dorsey Levens|
|Howard Griffith||FB||William Henderson|
|Neil Smith||LE||Reggie White|
|Keith Traylor||LDT||Gilbert Brown|
|Maa Tanuvasa||RDT||Santana Dotson|
|Alfred Williams||RE||Gabe Wilkins|
|John Mobley||LOLB||Seth Joyner|
|Allen Aldridge||MLB||Bernardo Harris|
|Bill Romanowski||ROLB||Brian Williams|
|Ray Crockett||LCB||Doug Evans|
|Darrien Gordon||RCB||Tyrone Williams|
|Tyrone Braxton||SS||LeRoy Butler|
|Steve Atwater||FS||Eugene Robinson|
AFTER an eventful round of midweek matches in the Premier League, some of the big boys get the weekend off for the FA fifth round. Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been knocked out giving the competition an unusual look about it with 16 teams left. Sports Editor Steven Beacom gives his verdict on the eight ties and Paddy Power provides the odds.
Feb 12, 2010; AFTER an eventful round of midweek matches in the Premier League, some of the big boys get the weekend off for the FA fifth...