Game No. 9: St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans—Super Bowl XXXIV
With the end of the decade nearing, Sportmeisters Derek and Ryan have decided to present their top 10 games of the past decade. Today’s discussion is on the ninth-best game from 2000-2009. What follows is a transcript of their discussion.
Sportmeister Derek: Ryan, today we are here to discuss something that will be debated for the next few weeks. With 2010 on the horizon, we are naming our top 10 games of the decade.
Sportmeister Ryan: Following up on Game No. 10, we move to football, selecting Super Bowl XXXIV between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans as our No. 9 Game of the Decade.
SD: Let’s start with a quick history recap. The Rams had signed Trent Green to play quarterback and traded for Marshall Faulk to be their starting running back. The Titans had actually just become the team we know today as they moved from Houston in 1998 and officially became the Titans in 1999.
SR: A Super Bowl run is not a bad way to start a season in a new town, especially when it’s the first for your franchise.
SD: In a fit of irony, the move for Green ended up being a waste as he was injured and lost for the year in the third preseason game.
SR: That opened up the opportunity for Kurt Warner, an undrafted free agent who had played in the Arena League and NFL Europe, to step into the role. For a team that had just gone 4-12 the previous season, it was understandable that they were concerned about putting their season into Warner’s hands.
SD: Yet Warner and Faulk were the best thing to happen to St. Louis. They ended up leading the Rams to a 13-3 record, the best in the NFC.
SR: We also saw Warner earn NFL MVP, with a résumé that included throwing for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns. Faulk also had a great year, rushing for 1,381 yards and seven touchdowns to go with a team-leading 87 receptions for 1,048 yards and five more touchdowns.
SD: One could definitely argue Faulk led the way for the more versatile running backs that can run and catch.
SR: The Titans were also led to a 13-3 record by the QB/RB tandem of Steve McNair and Eddie George. McNair only played in 11 games but still managed to throw for 2,179 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 337 yards and eight more touchdowns. George rushed for 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 47 balls for 458 yards and another four touchdowns.
SD: Interesting note—these two teams met in week six, with Tennessee narrowly winning, 24-21. That knocked St. Louis from the ranks of the undefeated and put both teams at 6-1.
SD: The Titans had a bit more trouble, as they almost lost in the wild card round to the Buffalo Bills until the Music City Miracle happened.
SR: A side bar for those who don’t remember: Buffalo had taken a 16-15 lead, and on the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo Neal gave the ball to Frank Wycheck. Wycheck proceeded to throw the ball across the field to Kevin Dyson, who ran 75 yards for the touchdown.
SR: The Rams ended up defeating the Titans 23-16, but what puts this game on our list are the events that made fans sit on the edge of their seats until the end.
SD: The Rams went into the half up 9-0 on three Jeff Wilkins field goals. They would extend the lead to 16-0 with a Warner pass to rookie Torry Holt for a nine-yard score with 7:20 left in the third quarter.
SR: Tennessee would not be the first team shut out in the Super Bowl, however. They scored 16 unanswered points to tie the game with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter.
SD: Following the ensuing kickoff, St. Louis spent little time regaining the lead. Warner, who would set an NFL Super Bowl record with 414 passing yards, threw his last pass of the game to WR Isaac Bruce, who would scamper 73 yards to put St. Louis on top 23-16.
SR: The following kickoff would set McNair at his own 10-yard line, with 90 yards and a touchdown needed to win the game, and the Super Bowl.
SD: With only 1:54 on the clock, McNair benefited from 20 yards of St. Louis penalties, as he completed four passes for 39 yards, including a 16-yarder to WR Kevin Dyson to put Tennessee on the St. Louis 10 with six seconds left.
SR: Tennessee would use their last timeout to set up what would be the final play. Tennessee came out with the expectation of running Wycheck up the right side of the field to attract LB Mike Jones. Dyson would then slant left into the opening left by Jones. The play went off perfectly.
SD: Dyson caught the ball at the three with an opening towards the end zone. Jones, however, noticed the open Dyson catching the ball, quickly changing directions and wrapping Dyson’s legs up at the two-and-a-half-yard line.
SR: Both players rolled with Dyson stretching his arm in an attempt to get the ball across the plane for the winning touchdown. It would not be, however, and St. Louis prevented an amazing comeback and won Super Bowl XXXIV, 23-16.
SD: Warner was named the MVP of the game as he threw for the aforementioned Super Bowl-record 414 yards and two touchdowns. Bruce had six receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown, and Holt had seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
SR: Even though the game was a defensive showdown, St. Louis’s phenomenal offense showed why they were dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
SD: This game had it all, from comebacks to big plays, and that’s why Super Bowl XXIV is No. 9 on our countdown of the best games from the decade. Stay tuned for the rest of our Top 10 coming up in the next few weeks. Any questions or concerns, feel free to email us at Derek@Sportmeisters.com or Ryan@Sportmeisters.com .