From The Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2001


Super Bowl lacked late drama

Super Bowl XXXV came one year too late. It would have been the perfect game for Jan. 2000 and the Y2K bug. Like the Y2K scare, there was a lot of hype, a few moments of drama and then a feeling when it was over of “ho hum, that’s it?” Super Bowl XXXV wasn’t the most exciting of Super Bowls. But it wasn’t the most boring either. And while most of the pregame talk was how the Giants’ offense would stack up against the Ravens’ defense, in the end it was the Baltimore special teams that played a major factor in the outcome. The game started out like many expected with neither team moving the ball on its first two possessions. The Ravens started their third possession on the Giants’ 41-yard line thanks to a 34-yard punt return by Jermaine Lewis. Trent Dilfer capitalized on the field position, finding Brandon Stokley two plays later on a 38-yard scoring strike. The game was all but over when Matt Stover added a 47-yard field goal with 1:41 left in the first half. Up to that point, the Giants had two drives of over 10 yards. New York added a little excitement before the half, driving to the Ravens’ 29, before having the door slammed by a Chris McAlister interception inside the 5-yard line. It would be the furthest the Giants would get all night. Then came a 36-second stretch in the third quarter that provided more excitement than Aerosmith, N’Sync, Brittany Spears and others provided during a 20-minute halftime. First, Duane Starks put a nail in the Giants’ coffin by grabbing an interception of Kerry Collins and returning it 49 yards for a touchdown. Ron Dixon momentarily removed it by returning the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score. But Lewis then slammed the lid shut, returning the kickoff 84 yards to give the Ravens a 24-7 lead. From then on, all that was left was whether the Ravens’ defense could keep the Giants off the scoreboard. The dominance of the defenses and special teams in the game could be seen in the records set. The Giants and Ravens set marks for most punts, most return touchdowns and fewest total yards. The teams also tied the marks for fewest first downs and fewest first downs rushing. Baltimore’s dominating performance did not come without a few breaks. An interception return for a score by New York’s Jesse Armstrong in the second quarter was called back by a holding penalty. A block in the back was overlooked on Lewis’ touchdown return. And a punt bounced over a Ravens’ player lying on the ground. But the Baltimore defense did not need any breaks this night. A defense that ended up allowing 16 points in the playoffs (not counting Dixon’s return) held the Giants to 149 yards in offense and tied a Super Bowl record by intercepting Collins four times. Unfortunately, the Ravens defense was so dominating, and the Giants’ offense so inept, it made the fourth quarter anticlimactic. It was a reminder of too many Super Bowls that were over long before the best commercials ended. About the best things that could be said for Super Bowl XXXV were there was no Kathie Lee Gifford singing or Bud Bowls, the halftime was only 20 minutes long and that CBS could not find a way to make the pregame show any longer.