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SUPER BOWL A PLEASANT SURPRISE

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / January 23, 1998

Ok, I admit I was wrong. The matchup between Green Bay and Denver was abetter one than the one between the Budweiser frogs and lizards. In fact,it might have been the best Super Bowl ever, or at least since the NewYork Giants edged Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV in 1991.

It was certainly memorable for the city of Denver, which has seen itsbeloved Broncos fall four times in the Super Bowl. It capped a Hall of Famecareer for John Elway, whose 14 years in the NFL were missing only aSuper Bowl championship. And it ended 14 years of frustration for theAFC, which year after year had to withstand being the butt of post SuperBowl jokes.

I do have a couple of questions now that the Super Bowl postgamefestivities are concluding. First of all, who won the Super Bowl, Elway orthe Broncos? Sure, it was great for many fans to see him finally win aSuper Bowl ring and yes, he did lead them on the final, championshipwinning drive in the final minutes. But without the play of Terrell Davisand the Denver defense Elway would still winless in the Super Bowl. Elwaygraciously admitted that fact after the game, yet all the announcerswanted to ask his teammates about was Elway winning the Super Bowl.

Second, why did the Packers give up on the run so early in the fourthquarter? Green Bay ran for 95 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry inthe game. Dorsey Levens was the second leading rusher in the NFC in 1997.Yet in the final all-important final minutes, the Packers’ running gamewas no where to be found.

The play that comes to mind happened on the Packers’ second-to-lastpossession with the score tied. Facing a second-and-3 from inside its own20-yard line with less than five minutes left, Green Bay opted to throw apass rather than try to pick up the first down by running the ball. BrettFavre threw incomplete on the play, and a holding call brought the Packersback.

Instead of a possible first down, the Packers faced a second and long andCraig Hentrich’s short punt two plays later set the Broncos up at the GreenBay 49-yard line. And you just knew that Elway, perhaps the best two-minute quarterback in NFL history, would lead the Broncos into at leastfield goal position from that spot.Denver would not get a field goal but rather a touchdown by Davis, histhird of the game. Davis gave a courageous effort, bouncing back from amigraine headache that caused him to miss much of the second half to winMost Valuable Player honors. Anyone who has had a migraine realizes howhard it is to even see much less gain 157 yards, 93 of which came in thesecond half.

The importance of Davis’s running to the Denver offense was demonstratedin the second quarter when the Broncos gained a total of 14 yards withouthim. Had he not been able to play the second half, the outcome of the gamecould very well have been very different.

What makes the story even better is that Davis won the award in his homecity of San Diego. Davis is a graduate of Lincoln High School, whichcoincidentally produced the last AFC player to win the MVP award, MarcusAllen in 1984.

Denver did two things that the AFC has not been able to do for most of itslosing streak – run the ball effectively and stay on the positive side of theturnover margin. The Broncos turned the ball over just once while forcingthe Packers to cough it up three times.And thanks to those turnovers and the running of Davis, Denver – and Elway- finally have their Super Bowl championship.

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