| January 30, 1994 • Georgia Dome • Atlanta, GA • NBC • 6:17 p.m. CST
|Super Bowl XXVIII|
|Date||January 30, 1994|
|MVP||Emmitt Smith, Running back|
|Favorite||Cowboys by 10½|
|National anthem||Natalie Cole|
|Coin toss||Joe Namath|
|Halftime show||The Judds (feat. Wynonna Judd, Naomi Judd), Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy|
|Nielsen Ratings||45.4 |
(est. 90 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$900,000|
Super Bowl XXVIII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Buffalo Bills to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1993 season. The Cowboys defeated the Bills by the score of 30–13, winning their fourth Super Bowl in team history, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers for most Super Bowl wins. The game was played on January 30, 1994, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
This was the first time that the same two teams met in consecutive Super Bowls. The defending Super Bowl XXVII Cowboys finished with a 12-4 regular season record despite key players missing games due to injuries. The Bills were making their fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance, but still seeking their first title, after also finishing with a 12-4 regular season record, largely through the strength of their no-huddle offense.
After trailing 13-6 at halftime, the Cowboys scored 24 unanswered points in the second half. The Bills had built their lead off of running back Thurman Thomas' 4-yard touchdown run. But just 45 seconds into the third quarter, Thomas was stripped of the ball, and Dallas safety James Washington returned the fumble 46 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. From there, Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, largely took over the game. On Dallas' next possession, Smith was handed the ball seven times on an eight-play, 64-yard drive that was capped with his 15-yard touchdown run. He later scored on a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Overall, Smith had 30 carries for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also catching 4 passes for 26 yards.
NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXVIII to Atlanta, Georgia, during their May 23, 1990, meeting. The Georgia Dome was under construction at the time of the vote.
The Cowboys' journey to Super Bowl XXVIII proved more difficult than the previous contest. Pro Bowl running back Emmitt Smith held out the first two regular season games over a contract dispute, and Dallas lost both of those contests. Pro Bowl quarterback Troy Aikman, along with a few other key players, missed games due to injuries. Dallas still managed to finish with an NFC-best 12-4 record after defeating the New York Giants in their final regular season game.
Though not as dynamic as the previous year, Dallas' offense remained incredibly efficient. Led by Aikman who finished the regular season completing 271 out of 392 passes for 3,100 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Smith recorded 1,486 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, while catching 57 passes for 414 yards and another touchdown, earning him the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. Fullback Daryl Johnston was also a realiable backfield threat, scoring four touchdowns and contributing a career high 50 receptions for 371 yards. Pro Bowler Michael Irvin was once again the team's leading wide receiver with 88 catches for 1,330 yards and 7 touchdowns. Wide receiver Alvin Harper had 36 catches for 777 yards and 5 touchdowns, while Pro Bowl tight end Jay Novacek had 44 receptions for 445 yards and 1 touchdown. Pro Bowlers Mark Stepnoski, Erik Williams, and Nate Newton anchored the offensive line. The Cowboys' defense was anchored by such Pro Bowlers as lineman Russell Maryland, linebacker Ken Norton Jr., along with defensive backs Thomas Everett and Kevin Smith, who picked off 6 passes during the season. Defensive end Tony Tolbert led the team with 7.5 sacks.
The Bills finished at the top of the AFC by clinching the conference's best regular season record at 12-4. Quarterback Jim Kelly once again led Buffalo's no-huddle offense by passing for 288 out of 470 regular season completions for 3,382 yards, 18 touchdowns, with 18 interceptions. Kelly was joining an elite class by starting this, his fourth Super Bowl. The only other quarterbacks to start four at the time were Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, with John Elway and Tom Brady since joining this exclusive club. Kelly being the only one to start four consecutive Super Bowls.
Running back Thurman Thomas gained 1,315 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns, while also catching 48 passes for 387 yards. Running back Kenneth Davis rushed for 391 yards and 6 touchdowns, while also recording 21 receptions for 95 yards. Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Reed led the team with 52 receptions for 854 yards and 6 touchdowns; wide receiver Bill Brooks had 60 receptions for 714 yards and 5 touchdowns; and wide receiver Don Beebe recorded 31 receptions for 504 yards and 3 touchdowns. Also, Pete Metzelaars led the Bills tight ends with 68 receptions for 609 yards and 4 touchdowns. And Pro Bowl offensive lineman Howard Ballard anchored the line.
Buffalo's defense was still the team's weakness, ranking 28th (then-last) in the league, giving up 5,810 total yards. The defense did have a few good contributors such as Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Smith (14 sacks, 1 fumble recovery), Pro Bowl linebacker Cornelius Bennett (5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries), along with linebacker Darryl Talley (101 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions) and cornerback Nate Odomes, who led the NFL with 9 interceptions and recorded 1 fumble recovery.
- For more details on this topic, see 1993-94 NFL playoffs.
Buffalo's first opponent was the Los Angeles Raiders, led by quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who had led the New York Giants to victory over the Bills in Super Bowl XXV 3 years earlier. In this game, the Raiders built up a 17-13 halftime lead, but Buffalo stormed back with 16 second half points. First they scored on Kelly's 25-yard touchdown pass to Brooks. Then on their next drive, kicker Steve Christie made a 29-yard field goal to give the Bills a 23-17 lead. Los Angeles managed to respond with an 86-yard scoring strike from Hostetler to receiver Tim Brown, but Buffalo stormed right back with Brooks' 22-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. The Bills ended up winning the game 29-23, having scored 16 points in a span of 6:18 in the second half. Kelly had a superb performance in the game, throwing for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.
One week later, the Bills advanced to their fourth consecutive Super Bowl by blowing away the Kansas City Chiefs 30-13 in the AFC championship game. Thomas had a phenomenal performance in the game, rushing for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns, and catching 2 passes for 22 yards. On defense, the Bills limited Chiefs future hall of fame quarterback Joe Montana to just 9 of 23 completions for 125 yards and no touchdowns, with 1 interception. In addition, Kansas City's future hall of fame running back Marcus Allen was held to just 50 rushing yards on 18 carries.
In the NFC, Dallas' first opponent in the playoffs was the Green Bay Packers, who were coming off a thrilling 28-24 win over the Detroit Lions in the wildcard round in which quarterback Brett Favre had thrown the winning touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe with only 55 seconds left in the game. In this game, the Packers scored first with a field goal, but Dallas stormed back with 17 consecutive points in the second quarter. First Aikman threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Harper. Then with time running out the period, Dallas scored again on an Eddie Murray field goal. Green Bay then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing the Cowboys to score again with Aikman's 6-yard pass to Novacek. The Cowboys went on to stave off an attempted Packers comeback in the second half and win the game 27-17. Aikman finished the game with 28 of 37 completions for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions. Irvin recorded 9 catches for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns.
One week later, Dallas faced the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game for the second year in a row in what was at the time the last NFL game to air on CBS. The last time the 2 teams played, Dallas won when Aikman thwarted a 49ers attempted comeback with a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. But this time, the game was extremely one-sided. The Cowboys scored touchdowns on 4 of their 5 first half possessions. By the end of the half, Dallas had a commanding 28-7 lead and were on their way to a surprisingly easy 38-21 win. Although he missed most of the second half due to injury, Aikman had a superb performance in the game, completing 14 of 18 passes for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions, while also rushing for 25 yards. Smith was also a key contributor, rushing for 88 yards, catching 7 passes for 85 yards, and scoring 2 touchdowns.
Both Dallas and Buffalo were the top seeds in their respective conferences, earning homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Until the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts qualified for Super Bowl XLIV, this was the last time that both number one seeds advanced to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl pregame news and notes
Many sports writers and fans were a bit upset that the Bills advanced to their fourth consecutive Super Bowl. They were distressed with Buffalo having lost the three previous Super Bowl games and did not want to see them lose again. Some Bills fans appeared to be defensive about their team's presence in the game; during Buffalo's victory in the AFC championship game a week earlier, one fan displayed a banner defiantly proclaiming, "We're back; deal with it, America!"
Therefore, the Super Bowl hype was more focused onto Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jimmy Johnson. Although the two rebuilt the team with young talent that eventually won the previous year's Super Bowl, both men had huge egos that conflicted with each other. Both had different ideas on the future personnel plans for the Cowboys and both wanted equal credit for the team's recent success (eventually, Johnson would leave the team after the season).
This was the fourth rematch in Super Bowl history, and the first time that both teams met in consecutive years. The Dolphins and Redskins met twice (VII and XVII), as did the Steelers and Cowboys (X and XIII) and 49ers and Bengals (XVI and XXIII). The Steelers and the Cowboys would also meet again, in Super Bowl XXX.
Television and entertainment
The game was broadcast in the United States by NBC with play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg and color commentator Bob Trumpy. Jim Lampley hosted all the events with the help of analysts Mike Ditka and Joe Gibbs and sideline reporters O.J. Simpson (on Buffalo's sideline) and Will McDonough (on Dallas' sideline). While Lampley was busy covering the trophy presentation, Bob Costas (who also interviewed Dallas head coach Jimmy Johnson and Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones together prior to the game) covered for Lampley at the host and anaylsts' desk (and signed off the broadcast for NBC).
It was the first time a network had held consecutive Super Bowls outright. The five-year NFL contract signed in 1989 had a provision where the last Super Bowl in the contract (XXVIII) would not be rotated, but would go to the highest bidder. NBC, which had held XXVII (according the original rotation, NBC would have had XXVI and CBS XXVII, but the NFL allowed the networks to switch the two games in order to allow CBS a significant lead-in to its coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics), was the only network to bid on XXVIII. Less than two weeks before the game was aired, NBC had shown a Peanuts special, You're In the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown, in which the character Melody-Melody wins the Punt, Pass & Kick contest wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform. For this game, NBC introduced a new theme for NFL broadcasts by composer John Colby that would be retained for the 1994 season.
Previously, the league alternated the Super Bowl broadcast among its television networks, except for Super Bowl I in which both NBC and CBS televised it simultaneously. CBS broadcast Super Bowl II, then the league rotated the broadcast between CBS and NBC until 1985 when ABC entered the rotation when they broadcast Super Bowl XIX.
NBC aired the premiere of The John Larroquette Show following the game.
The pregame show held before the game was titled "Georgia Music Makers" and featured performances by the rap music duo Kris Kross, the rock band The Georgia Satellites, country musician Charlie Daniels, and the Morehouse College Marching Band.
The United States Trampoline Association (USTA) performed on 4 trampolines during "Jump-Jump" performed by Kris Kross.
Later, singer Natalie Cole, accompanied by the Atlanta University Center Chorus, sang the national anthem.
The halftime show was titled "Rockin' Country Sunday" and featured country music stars Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Brooks & Dunn, and Wynonna Judd. The show's finale included a special appearance by Naomi Judd, who joined Wynonna in performing The Judds' single "Love Can Build a Bridge", to which everyone eventually joined in.
This was the first Super Bowl halftime show in which the main stadium lights were turned off for the performance. The show including dancers with yard-long light sticks.
Though the Bills had a lead at halftime, Super Bowl XXVIII would have an identical outcome to the 3 preceding games and end with a Buffalo loss.
Dallas kick returner Kevin Williams returned the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Buffalo 48-yard line. Then the Cowboys began the drive with quarterback Troy Aikman's 20-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Irvin. But with third down and six from 24-yard line, Aikman threw an incomplete pass and the Cowboys had to settle for kicker Eddie Murray's 41-yard field goal.
The Bills then responded with a 7-play, 43 yard scoring drive. Quarterback Jim Kelly's 24-yard pass to running back Thurman Thomas advanced the ball across the Dallas 40-yard line. After a 3-yard run by running back Kenneth Davis, however, Kelly threw two straight incompletions. The Bills then tied the game, 3-3, with Steve Christie's 54 yard field goal, the longest field goal in Super Bowl history.
Buffalo then forced Dallas to punt, but on the first play of the Bills' ensuing possession Dallas safety James Washington forced Thomas to fumble and safety Darren Woodson recovered the ball at midfield. Aided by receiver Alvin Harper's 24-yard reception, the Cowboys drove to the Bills' 7-yard line, but once again were forced to settle for a field goal; a 24-yarder by Murray to regain the lead, 6-3.
After receiving Murray's kickoff, the Bills could only reach their own 41-yard line before being forced to punt. However, Dallas cornerback Dave Thomas was penalized for running into the punter on the play, giving Buffalo a first down. Taking advantage of their second chance, Buffalo marched down the field with runs by Thomas and short completions by Kelly. Thomas eventually finished off the 17 play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, giving the Bills a 10-6 lead early in the second quarter.
Dallas started out their ensuing drive with a 15-yard reception by Irvin and a 13-yard run by running back Emmitt Smith to get to midfield. They were eventually forced to punt, but Cowboys defensive end Matt Vanderbeek downed John Jett's 43-yard punt at the Bills' 1-yard line. A 19-yard completion from Kelly to receiver Andre Reed moved Buffalo out from the shadow of their own end zone, and they eventually reached the Cowboys 46-yard line, but they too were forced to punt. However, Chris Mohr matched Jett's feat with a 45-yard punt that was downed at the Dallas 1-yard line by Buffalo special teams expert Steve Tasker.
As the Bills had done, Dallas managed to get out of their own territory and advance to the Buffalo 47-yard line. However, Bills defensive back Nate Odomes intercepted a pass intended for Irvin and returned it 41 yards to the Dallas 47-yard line with 1:03 left in the half. After a 1-yard run by Thomas, Kelly completed a pair of passes to Thomas and Reed for gains of 12 and 22 yards, respectively, to move the ball to the Cowboys 12-yard line. But the Dallas defense tightened up on the next 3 plays as Kelly threw a 3-yard completion to Thomas, an incomplete pass, and a completion to Thomas for no gain. Christie then kicked his second field goal as time expired in the half, increasing Buffalo's lead to 13-6.
Buffalo's command over the game proved short lived as the Cowboys dominated the second half. Forty-five seconds into the third quarter, Leon Lett forced a Thurman Thomas fumble, which Washington returned 46 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
Bills receiver Russell Copeland then returned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Buffalo 37-yard line, but on third down Cowboy linemen Jim Jeffcoat and Charles Haley shared a 13-yard sack on Kelly to force the Bills to punt. The Cowboys then scored on an 8-play, 64-yard drive in which Smith carried the ball on 7 of the 8 plays, gaining all but 3 of the 64 yards himself, and finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to take a 20-13 lead.
Meanwhile, Dallas' defense continued to stop Buffalo's offense throughout the second half. Washington intercepted a pass from Kelly on the first play of the fourth quarter and returned it 12 yards to the Bills' 34-yard line. A false start penalty on the next play moved the ball back to the 39, but on the next 3 plays, Smith ran twice for 10 yards and caught a screen pass for 9. Aikman then completed a 16-yard pass to Harper, giving Dallas a first and goal at the 6-yard line. The Bills managed to prevent a touchdown on the next 3 plays, but on fourth down and 1, Smith ran into the end zone for the score, giving the Cowboys a 27-13 lead.
The Bills started their ensuing drive from their own 22-yard line and managed to reach their own 36. Cowboy defensive lineman Jimmie Jones made two key plays, however; a second down tackle on Thomas for a one yard loss and a 13-yard sack on third down; to push the ball back to the 22-yard line and force Buffalo to punt; a poor, 29 yard kick which the Cowboys recovered at their own 49 yard line. Dallas then put the game away with a 9 play, 49-yard scoring drive that took 4:10 off the clock. On the sixth play of the drive, Aikman completed a 35-yard pass to Harper to the Bills 1-yard line. After a false start penalty pushed them back to the 6-yard line, the Cowboys ran the ball on their next 3 plays to force Buffalo to use up all of their timeouts. Murray then kicked a 20-yard field goal with 2:50 left in the game, increasing the Cowboys lead to 30-13, and effectively ending any chance of a Bills comeback.
"This one is the worst," Reed said after the game, referring to the Bills' streak of four consecutive Super Bowl losses. "We should have won. Then they come up with 24 unanswered points. That last fumble was once in a million. These things always happen to the Bills. It rips the heart out of you." "Dallas didn't wear us down in the second half," added Thomas. "I fumbled. I cost us the game." However, Hull managed to find some consolation. "In the immediate future we'll be thought of as losers," he said. "But one day down the road, when I'm no longer playing, they'll say, 'Wow, they won four straight AFC championships. They must have been good.' "
Troy Aikman was 19 out of 27 for 207 yards, with 1 interception while Alvin Harper was the team's top receiver with 3 catches for 75 yards. Emmitt Smith, still suffering the effects of a shoulder injury during the regular-season finale, became just the second player in Super Bowl history to run for 100 yards in back-to-back Super Bowls. (The other being Larry Csonka who did it in Super Bowls VII and VIII. He became the fourth player to rush for touchdowns in back-to-back Super Bowls, joining Franco Harris, John Riggins and Thomas). Smith also became the first player to lead the league in rushing yards, win NFL Most Valuable Player Award, and win Super Bowl MVP all in the same season. He was also the fourth player, after Bart Starr (1966), Terry Bradshaw (1978), and Joe Montana (1989), to win both the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP during the same season. Defensively, James Washington, who began as the nickel-back to counter Buffalo's "no-huddle" and frequent use of three wide receivers, had a phenomenal game with his 46-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery, an interception, forcing a Thurman Thomas fumble that Darren Woodson recovered, and collecting 11 tackles.
Bills receiver Andre Reed finished the game with 6 receptions for 75 yards to lead Buffalo, with Don Beebe catching 6 passes for 60 yards and returned 2 kickoffs for 63 yards. Thomas was limited to just 37 rushing yards, but he also caught 7 passes for 52 yards (Thomas became the first player in Super Bowl history to score touchdowns in four Super Bowls: he scored one TD in each of the Bills 4-straight appearances, XXV-XXVIII). Kenneth Davis was the Bills' top rusher with 38 yards. Kelly finished the game 31-of-50 for 260 yards and 1 interception. His 31 completions were a Super Bowl record. Kelly became the only player ever to throw 50 passes in 2 Super Bowls. In addition to his 50 passes in this game, he threw a Super Bowl record 58 passes in Super Bowl XXVI.
- Stadium: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
- Date: January 30, 1994
- Time: 6:17 p.m. EST
- TV Network telecast: NBC Sports, NFL on NBC Superbowl pregame with Bob Costas
- In-Game Announcers: Dick Enberg (play-by-play), and Bob Trumpy (analysis)
- Weather: Played indoors, domed stadium
- DAL - FG: Eddie Murray 41 yards 3-0 DAL
- BUF - FG: Steve Christie 54 yards 3-3 tie
- DAL - FG: Eddie Murray 24 yards 6-3 DAL
- BUF - TD: Thurman Thomas 4 yard run (Steve Christie kick) 10-6 BUF
- BUF - FG: Steve Christie 28 yards 13-6 BUF
- DAL - TD: James Washington 46 yard fumble return (Eddie Murray kick) 13-13 tie
- DAL - TD: Emmitt Smith 17 yard run (Eddie Murray kick) 20-13 DAL
- DAL - TD: Emmitt Smith 1 yard run (Eddie Murray kick) 27-13 DAL
- DAL - FG: Eddie Murray 20 yards 30-13 DAL
|Alvin Harper||WR||Bill Brooks|
|Mark Tuinei||LT||John Fina|
|Nate Newton||LG||John Davis|
|John Gesek||C||Kent Hull|
|Kevin Gogan||RG||Glenn Parker|
|Erik Williams||RT||Howard Ballard|
|Jay Novacek||TE||Pete Metzelaars|
|Michael Irvin||WR||Andre Reed|
|Troy Aikman||QB||Jim Kelly|
|Emmitt Smith||RB||Thurman Thomas|
|Daryl Johnston||FB-WR||Don Beebe|
|Tony Tolbert||LE||Phil Hansen|
|Leon Lett||LDT-NT||Jeff Wright|
|Tony Casillas||RDT-RE||Bruce Smith|
|Charles Haley||RE-LOLB||Marvcus Patton|
|Ken Norton, Jr.||LOLB-LILB||Mark Maddox|
|Darren Woodson||NICKEL||Cornelius Bennett|
|Darrin Smith||ROLB||Darryl Talley|
|Larry Brown||LCB||Mickey Washington|
|Kevin Smith||RCB||Nate Odomes|
|Thomas Everett||SS||Henry Jones|
|James Washington||FS||Mark Kelso|
- Referee: Bob McElwee (#95)
- Umpire: Art Demmas (#78)
- Head Linesman: Sid Semon (#109)
- Line Judge: Tom Barnes (#55)
- Field Judge: Don Orr (#77)
- Side Judge: Nate Jones (#97)
- Back Judge: Al Jury (#106)
- Alternate: Jerry Markbreit (#9)
- "Best & Worst: Post-Super Bowl TV", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on May 2, 2010.
- Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M., and Korch, Rick. The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present. 1994 ISBN 0312114354
- Super Bowl official website
- 2006 NFL Record and Fact Book. Time Inc. Home Entertainment. Template:Citation/identifier.
- Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. Harper Collins. Template:Citation/identifier.
- The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995. Template:Citation/identifier.
- http://www.pro-football-reference.com - Large online database of NFL data and statistics
- Super Bowl play-by-plays from USA Today (Last accessed September 28, 2005)
- All-Time Super Bowl Odds from The Sports Network (Last accessed October 16, 2005)
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