ATLANTA, GA– As the Los Angeles Rams prepare for battle in the franchise’s third Super Bowl appearance, they hope to be reminded of the past. No, not the last time the Rams played the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Where a young Tom Brady started a Patriots dynasty.
Rather, the Rams hope to have a similar fate to the last time the Super Bowl was in Atlanta. Super Bowl XXXIV was played in the now-defunct Georgia Dome, in the midst of a wicked ice storm that hit Atlanta. The Los Angeles Rams were located in St. Louis, taking on a talented Tennessee Titans squad. Let’s take a closer look at a memorable Super Bowl.
First Half: Defense Steals the Spotlight
The Rams came into the Super Bowl with a high-powered offense. Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, the Rams outscored their opponents 526–242 heading into the Super Bowl.
But as the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXIV highlighted, defense would play a pivotal role. Despite getting into the red zone on all four of their first-half possessions, the Rams would have to settle for field goals. The Titans were only to manage 89 yards of total offense in the first half.
With the Rams up 9-0, it appeared to be a lot tighter than the scoring reflected.
Third Quarter: Rams Get Game’s First Touchdown
As in most defensive Super Bowls, the defense starts to get worn out and the offense comes alive. The case could be made in Super Bowl XXXIV. Kurt Warner capped off a 68-yard touchdown drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Hall of Fame wide receiver Torry Holt. The Rams looked to be in control of the game, up 16-0.
But the Tennessee Titans would not quit. Led by the late Steve McNair, the Titans would get a quarter-ending touchdown, with a one-yard run at the goal line by running back Eddie George. Despite missing the two-point conversion, the Titans had life in their veins. The belief that 10 points down, they could still make this a game with lots of time on the clock.
Fourth Quarter: One Yard Short
Super Bowls are venues where the greatness of an individual can be put on full display. The stage where the unexpected can occur. Where a game can be decided by one yard.
In the fourth quarter, the Titans rallied to tie the game at 16. It was at the time the largest deficit to be erased at a Super Bowl. Back to back touchdown drives anchored by Steve McNair and Eddie George got the Titans back in the game, now believing that a Super Bowl was in their grasp.
But the quarterback for the Rams had other plans. Warner, who had once played in arena football, now was on the biggest stage in pro football, looking for some Super Bowl magic. And he got it, connecting with his favorite wide receiver target Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown pass. The Rams were up 23-16 with time dwindling by the second.
The rest is history. Steve McNair had one final play in Rams territory, needing a touchdown to sen the game to overtime. McNair would catch receiver Kevin Dyson on the slant route, catching the ball at the five-yard line.
Rams linebacker Mike Jones would become a postseason hero. His tackle of Dyson, despite the receiver’s attempt to extend the football and break the plane, would be enough to stop the wideout at St. Louis’ one-yard line. One yard short of postseason stardom. Instead, it is one yard short that will live in Tennessee infamy. The Rams were Super Bowl champions.
Will Rams have Similar Fate in Super Bowl LIII?
The One Yard Short play will go down as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history. A lot has changed since 2000 when the Rams won their Super Bowl. St. Louis moved to Los Angeles and are now the Los Angeles Rams. Kurt Warner is no longer the Rams quarterback; Jared Goff has that title. The Rams opponent this year is undoubtedly more difficult; the New England Patriots dynasty is looking to add a sixth Super Bowl in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era.
But given the defensive players the Rams have, it would be no surprise if Los Angeles secures the championship. Maybe Aaron Donald is the Super Bowl LIII version of Mike Jones.
I guess you just have to watch and find out if a crazy, historic, out-of-this-world ending is in store once again.