Best I’ve seen

By Jeff Feyerer

As the clock ticks down until the opening kickoff for the home of wardrobe malfunctions known as the Super Bowl, I decided to take some time this week to reflect on games gone by.

No game or event brings about sports lists like the Super Bowl. Best games, best players, best moments, best lip sync. It doesn’t end.

In the past, I’ve tried to throw together some lists from my musings on the greatest sporting event ever created, but I can’t do it. It’s too difficult to assess because I haven’t been there to watch the games or even to understand the time periods they took place in.

Yes, I’ve watched the entire marathon of Steve Sabol-led highlight films, but that doesn’t make me an aficionado on the topic. I can’t tell you why Chuck Howley’s performance in Super Bowl V made him MVP worthy or even begin to explain the magnitude of Joe Namath’s miraculous guarantee before Super Bowl III.

So for the sake of preventing an elder berating me for my poor frame of reference, I’ve decided to limit the scope of the assessment to my lifetime, and many of yours. The last 22 years for you keeping score at home.

Disagree with me. Agree with me. Whatever. That’s what makes it enjoyable.

No. 5 – New England vs. St. Louis, Super Bowl XXXVI (2002), 20-17

All it took for Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri to become household names was one drive and one kick. A heavily favored Rams unit was subdued by a Patriots squad that played disciplined, unspectacular football.

Tom Brady’s drive with under a minute and a half left to put his team in field-goal range was a microcosm of the will and determination put forth by every Patriot.

No. 4 – San Francisco vs. Cincinnati, Super Bowl XXIII (1989), 20-16

I vaguely remember falling asleep next to a puzzle and slice of pizza during the first half, but I was definitely awake for the end.

With 34 seconds remaining, the “Dynasty of the 80’s” closed the decade with their third Super Bowl victory. Montana hit wideout John Taylor for a touchdown with 34 seconds left, ending a 92-yard drive and 60 minutes of drama.

No. 3 – St. Louis vs. Tennessee, Super Bowl XXXIV (2000), 23-16

Fans, including myself, expected more points and the action didn’t really pick up until the third quarter, but the Cinderella story of Kurt Warner ended with a victory.

Steve McNair’s mad dash across the field to complete a clutch pass deep in Rams territory. Tears streaming from Vermeil’s face as Mike Jones made the final tackle at the 1-yard line. One question remains.

Why the hell didn’t Kevin Dyson run a deeper route?

Kurt Warner’s wife and that damn boa around her neck will not allow me to put this above the third best game.

No. 2 – New York Giants vs. Buffalo, Super Bowl XXV (1991), 20-19

Set against the backdrop of the Gulf War, Bill Parcells’ Giants, led by a quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, who looked more like Mr. Mom than a football player, held on against the Bills.

Sadly when talking about this game, attention doesn’t go to Mark Ingram’s clutch third down catch late in the game or Ottis Anderson’s big rushing day, but instead to Bills kicker Scott Norwood who missed a long 47 yard field goal ending the game.

Ah, the lonely kicker.

No. 1 – Denver vs. Green Bay, Super Bowl XXXII (1998), 31-24

John Elway finally got his ring and made an incredible run into the heart of the Packers defense, but it was Terrell Davis that put the Broncos on his back rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns.

The lead flip-flopped the entire game as the heavily-favored Packers had trouble shaking the Broncos, who finally ended the AFC’s 12-game losing streak.

Both teams performed extremely well, but when Brett Favre’s final pass fell to the turf, two exhausted squads held their heads high.

But no one could top TD’s day in the sun and Elway as No. 1.

Thank you for making a certain Packer fan writing this column shed some tears.