From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / February 2, 2000

Hey, Oliver Stone, top this.

Even the director of “Any Given Sunday” could not have written a more appropriate ending to a crazy 1999-2000 NFL season. Super Bowl XXXIV wasthe NFL in a nutshell.

You know the game is going to be a wild one when the first reception is made by – Fred Miller. From there it only got crazier.Explain how a team out gains another, 293-89, in the first half and comes away with just a 9-0 lead. By going 0-for-5 in the red zone, that’s how. St.Louis looked like the 1999 Rams between the 20s and the 1998 Rams from there on in.

Kurt Warner must have thought he was back in the pass happy Arena League in the first half, throwing a Super Bowl record 35 passes, completing 19 for 277 yards. But inside the 20, he looked like he belonged back in the ArenaLeague, misfiring on 11 straight throws.

Tennessee, on the other hand, looked like a team that was overwhelmed by a four-hour plus pregame show. The Titans ran a grand total of 26 plays in thehalf, or the same amount the Rams ran in the first quarter. Eddie Georgeappeared to be hitting the same lawn maintenance truck as the dog in the Budweiser commercial.

When Warner hit Torry Holt with a 9-yard touchdown pass with 7:21 left in the third quarter, it appeared all there was left to do was to decide which was the best commercial. But like the guy on the bike chasing the cheetah inthe Mountain Dew ad, back came the Titans.

After all, the Titans had not made it this far without a few miracles. And itappeared they would pull off another one as George scored on two 1-yard runs and Al Del Greco tied the game at 16 on a 43-yard field goal with 2:12 left.

But faster than you can say “Hey, where did the Bud Bowl go?”, back came the Rams. On the first play, the Rams, who had been as conservative as CarlSmith, gambled with Warner throwing deep for Isaac Bruce. Bruce outleaptDenard Walker (a former LSU Tiger) for the underthrown ball on the right sidelines at the 38-yard line, cut back twice and scampered in for the go- ahead score with 1:54 left in the game.

Like a Stone movie, this was still not over after more than three hours. Backcame the Titans. Steve McNair, who set a Super Bowl record with 64 yardsrushing, scrambled for 12 yards. After a face masking penalty, McNair foundKevin Dyson at the 10-yard line with five seconds left.

On the final play of the game, McNair tossed a slant to Dyson. Dysonappeared to be on his way in for the tying score but Mike Jones made perhaps the biggest tackle in Super Bowl history (yes, even bigger than the guy tackling the cheetah), stopping Dyson a yard short of the goal line.

So a crazy season that saw two teams that went a combined 12-20 in 1998 advance to the Super Bowl, one that saw a quarterback named Kurt Warner be named both the league and Super Bowl MVP, came down to the 1-yard line.

And the receiver that was stopped that yard short was one that was involved in the other most memorable play of the season – “The Miracle in Music City, Home Run Throwback” kickoff return against Buffalo.

Hollywood probably could come up with a script like that. But who would believe it?

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