| January 31, 1999 • Pro Player Stadium • Miami Gardens, Florida • NBC •
|Super Bowl XXXIII|
|Date||January 31, 1999|
|Stadium||Pro Player Stadium|
|MVP||John Elway, Quarterback|
|Favorite||Broncos by 7½|
|Coin toss||Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Art Donovan, Gino Marchetti, Frank Gifford, Roosevelt Brown, Don Maynard, Sam Huff, Tom Landry|
|Halftime show||Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Pat Summerall and John Madden|
|Nielsen Ratings||40.2 |
(est. 83.7 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$1.6 million|
Super Bowl XXXIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Atlanta Falcons to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1998 season. The Broncos defeated the Falcons by the score of 34–19, winning their second consecutive Super Bowl. The game was played on January 31, 1999, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida.
The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos entered the game with an AFC-best 14-2 regular season record. The Falcons, under former Denver head coach Dan Reeves, were making their first Super Bowl appearance after also posting a 14-2 regular season record.
Aided by quarterback John Elway's 80-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rod Smith, Denver scored 17 unanswered points to build a 17-3 lead in the second quarter that Atlanta could not recover from. At 38 years old, Elway became the oldest player ever to be named Super Bowl MVP. As the final game of his career, he completed 18 of 29 passes for 336 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, and also scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown. Elway retired on May 2 before the following season.
NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XXXIII to the Miami area during their October 31, 1996 meeting in New Orleans. This was the eighth time that the area hosted the game, and the third at Pro Player Stadium. Following Super Bowl XXXII it would be the last back-to-back Super Bowls played outdoors until Super Bowls XLIII and XLIV. This started a streak of 11 straight Super Bowls in which every game with the NFC as the home team was played outdoors and every one with the AFC as the home team was played indoors.
After the Broncos won Super Bowl XXXII during the previous season, many wondered if 15-year veteran quarterback John Elway would retire now that he finally won a Super Bowl. But Elway decided to stay with Denver and see if he could lead them to a second consecutive championship. Under Elway's leadership, the Broncos stormed to the top of the AFC with a 14–2 regular record in 1998, winning their first 13 games before suffering their first loss to the New York Giants.
The Broncos' offense, under the leadership of Elway and running back Terrell Davis, had another outstanding regular season, ranking 2nd in the NFL with 501 points and gaining 6,276 yards (3rd in the league). Davis had one of the greatest seasons of any running back in NFL history, rushing for 2,008 yards, catching 25 passes for 217 yards, and scoring 23 touchdowns to earn him both the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. But Davis' rushing numbers did not reduce Elway's passing production. The 38-year old quarterback made the Pro Bowl for the 3rd year in a row and the 9th time in his career, throwing for 2,806 yards and 22 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions. A big reason for Elway's passing success was that he had 2 Pro Bowl wide receivers and a Pro Bowl tight end to throw to. Wide Receivers Ed McCaffrey (64 receptions, 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Rod Smith (86 receptions, 1,222 yards, 6 touchdowns and 66 rushing yards) provided the team with outstanding deep threats, while tight end Shannon Sharpe (64 receptions, 786 yards and 10 touchdowns) provided a sure-handed target over the middle. The Broncos also had 3 Pro Bowlers anchoring their offensive line: center Tom Nalen, guard Mark Schlereth, and tackle Tony Jones. On special teams, running back Vaughn Hebron returned 46 kickoffs for 1,216 yards and a touchdown, giving him a 26.4 yards per return average.
The Broncos defense typically did not get as much attention as their offense, but it was still effective, giving up 308 points (8th in the NFL). Up front, the line was anchored by defensive tackles Maa Tanuvasa and Trevor Pryce, who each recorded 8.5 sacks. Behind them, Pro Bowl linebacker Bill Romanowski recorded 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions. The defensive secondary was led by Pro Bowler Steve Atwater and Darrien Gordon, who led the team with 4 interceptions, which he returned for 125 yards and a touchdown. Gordon was also a great punt returner, returning 34 punts for 379 yards.
The Falcons advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Like the Broncos, they finished the 1998 regular season with a 14-2 record, including wins in all of their last 9 games. But unlike the Broncos, Atlanta's success in the 1998 season was very surprising to many because they had a 7-9 record in the previous season and a 3-13 record the year before that. In fact, the team recorded just 4 winning seasons in the last 20 years prior to 1998, and only 2 in the 1990s.
However, the Falcons' fortunes began to improve after Dan Reeves became their head coach in 1997. During Reeves' first season with Atlanta, they finished the season 6-2, after starting out 1-7, to compile a 7-9 record overall. Reeves was Denver's head coach from 1981 to 1992 NFL season, leading the Elway-led Broncos to Super Bowls XXI, XXII, and XXIV. But they lost each one, including a 55-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. After that, Reeves was in constant conflict with his coaching staff and some of his players for the next 3 years. He left Denver in 1993 and spent 4 seasons as the Giants head coach before joining the Falcons.
Pro Bowl quarterback Chris Chandler led Atlanta's offense extremely well, throwing for 3,154 yards, and 25 touchdowns, with just 12 interceptions, while also rushing for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wide receivers Tony Martin and Terance Mathis provided the team with a superb deep threat, each recording over 60 receptions and 1,100 receiving yards, while also combining for 17 touchdowns. But the biggest threat on offense was Pro Bowl running back Jamal Anderson, who rushed for 1,846 yards, caught 27 passes for 319 yards, and scored 16 total touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Tim Dwight gave the team a great special teams attack, gaining a total of 1,236 yards and scoring a touchdown on kickoff and punt returns.
The Falcons defense ranked second in the league in fewest rushing yards allowed (1,203), eighth in fewest total yards (5,009), and fourth in fewest points. Defensive linemen Lester Archambeau (10 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) and Chuck Smith (8.5 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries) excelled at pressuring quarterbacks and stopping the run. Behind them, Atlanta had 2 outstanding linebackers, Pro Bowler Jessie Tuggle (65 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery) and Cornelius Bennett (69 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries). Bennett played with the Buffalo Bills when they suffered their 4 consecutive Super Bowl losses in XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII; and thus was determined to finally get a championship ring that had eluded him in the past. Atlanta's secondary was led by Pro Bowl defensive back Ray Buchanan, who recorded 7 interceptions and 102 return yards, and Pro Bowl safety Eugene Robinson (4 interceptions), who was with the Green Bay Packers when they appeared in Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII.
The season was punctuated by Reeves receiving emergency coronary bypass surgery after Week 14. Doctors said he could have been "within hours of a catastrophic heart attack." Although asked to rest for at least six weeks, Reeves returned to the sidelines for Week 17. Then-defensive coordinator Rich Brooks substituted for Reeves as head coach in Weeks 15 and 16, and won both games.
- For more details on this topic, see NFL playoffs, 1998-99.The Broncos demolished the Miami Dolphins, 38–3, and the New York Jets, 23–10, in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Falcons were victorious against the San Francisco 49ers, 20–18, and the Minnesota Vikings, 30–27, in overtime.
This was the second Super Bowl in history that featured two teams with two losses or fewer. Both teams came into the game with 16-2 records after the playoffs. The only Super Bowl featuring a better matchup record wise was Super Bowl XIX when the San Francisco 49ers had a 17–1 record and the Miami Dolphins had a 16–2 record.
Super Bowl pregame news
Much of the pregame hype was centered around Elway confronting his former coach Reeves. Mike Shanahan was hurt and angered by Reeves' pregame assertion that Shanahan and Elway had conspired to have him fired during his stint at Denver. Media coverage also focused on whether or not Elway would retire after the season (which he eventually did).
John Elway became the first quarterback to start five Super Bowls. He previously started XXI, XXII, XXIV and XXXII. Broncos defensive lineman Mike Lodish was making his record 6th appearance in a Super Bowl. He played with Buffalo in all four of their Super Bowl losses Super Bowl XXV through XXVIII and with Denver's first Super Bowl win the year before.
On the night before the Super Bowl, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for solicitation of prostitution. While driving alone in a rented car along a downtown Miami street, he approached a female undercover police officer posing as a prostitute and offered $40 for oral sex. Although he was released from jail and allowed to play the game, he was widely denounced by the press and fans for the incident. Robinson's arrest was especially ironic because on the very morning of the day it happened, he had received the Bart Starr Award for his "high moral character."
Television and entertainment
The game was broadcast in the United States by Fox and featured the broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall and color commentator John Madden. James Brown hosted all the events with help from his then-fellow Fox NFL Sunday cast members Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Cris Collinsworth.
After the game, Fox aired The Simpsons episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", followed by the pilot episode of Family Guy, "Death Has a Shadow".
With this appearance, the Broncos became the first team to play in Super Bowls televised on all four major broadcast networks in the United States (CBS-XII, XXI and XXIV, ABC-XXII, NBC-XXXII, and Fox-XXXIII). The Pittsburgh Steelers became the second with their appearance in Super Bowl XLV, and the New York Giants the third with their appearance in Super Bowl XLVI.
The starting lines ups were shown using a virtual TV. To TV viewers, it appeared as if the end zone opened up and a giant TV came up out of the ground. The virtual TV displayed video announcing the starting line ups. The virtual TV effect was provided by PVI Virtual Media Services using their L-VIS virtual graphics system.
The pregame show, narrated by actress Tori Spelling, depicted the adventure of a Caribbean cruise from its festive departure to its journey to exotic destinations. The show included a performance by KISS, along with their trademark elaborate costumes and theatrical pyrotechnics.
Cher later sang the national anthem.
To honor the 40th anniversary of the 1958 NFL Championship, also known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played", the following participants of that game appeared during the coin toss ceremony: Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Art Donovan, Gino Marchetti, Frank Gifford, Roosevelt Brown, Don Maynard, Sam Huff, and Tom Landry, the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. Weeb Ewbank, head coach of the Baltimore Colts in that game, was also scheduled to appear, but died November 17, 1998.
The halftime show was titled "A Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing" and featured Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Stevie Wonder, and Gloria Estefan. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed their song "Go Daddy-O". Wonder sang "Sir Duke", "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", and "I Wish". And Miami-native Estefan performed "Oye!" and "Turn the Beat Around", then a special performance by Stevie Wonder and Estefan was given performing Estefan's hit "You'll Be Mine (Party Time)". Tap dancer Savion Glover appeared during Wonder's performance of "I Wish".
During halftime, USA Network aired a special edition of WWE Sunday Night Heat called Halftime Heat featuring a match between The Rock and Mankind for the WWE Championship in an Empty Arena Match that took place in Arizona and had been taped five days before. Mankind won the title, just seven days after losing it to The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
FoxSports.com also ran an online-only Internet halftime show, Webcast live from South Beach Miami, and hosted by then-Fox Sports Net anchorman Keith Olbermann. This halftime show was sponsored by Victoria's Secret and available exclusively in Windows Media Player. Viewer questions were solicited via the FoxSports.com Web site.
Falcons receiver Tim Dwight returned the opening kickoff 31 yards to the Atlanta 37-yard line. Then aided by a 25-yard pass interference penalty against Broncos defensive back Steve Atwater and 31 rushing yards from Jamal Anderson, the Falcons drove to the Broncos 8-yard line. But Denver linebacker Bill Romanowski sacked quarterback Chris Chandler for a 7-yard loss on third down, forcing Atlanta to settle for Morten Andersen's 32-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.
The Broncos then responded with an 80-yard scoring drive. Quarterback John Elway's 41-yard completion to wide receiver Rod Smith and 2 receptions by tight end Shannon Sharpe for a total of 26 net yards setup fullback Howard Griffith's 1-yard touchdown run. Unfortunately for Denver, Sharpe was injured on that drive. He did play the next drive, but was taken out after that.
Later in the quarter, Falcons defensive back Ronnie Bradford intercepted a pass from Elway (that had bounced off Shannon Sharpe) and returned it to the Broncos 35-yard line. But Denver's defense made a great stand in the opening minutes of the second quarter, tackling Anderson for no gain on third down and 1, and then stopping him for a 2-yard loss on a fourth down conversion attempt. The Broncos then reached the Atlanta 8-yard line on their ensuing possession, but were forced to settle for kicker Jason Elam's 26-yard yard field goal to increase their lead, 10–3.
The Falcons then advanced to the Denver 8-yard line on their next drive, but failed to score when Andersen's 26-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Immediately after the Broncos got the ball back, Smith broke ahead of Falcons safety Eugene Robinson, caught a pass from Elway, and took off for an 80-yard touchdown reception, giving Denver a 17-3 lead (the fourth 80+ yard touchdown pass play in Super Bowl history). TV viewers did not see most of the play, as Fox was still airing a commercial at the time. Aided by Dwight's 42-yard kickoff return to the 49-yard line, the Falcons responded by driving to Denver's 11-yard line and scored with Andersen's 28-yard field goal to cut Atlanta's deficit to 17–6 going into halftime.
The Broncos opened the second half by driving 74 yards to the Atlanta 20-yard line, but ended up scoring no points after Elam's 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Chandler responded on the next 2 plays with a 29-yard completion to receiver Tony Martin and a 12-yard scramble to advance the ball to the Denver 41-yard line. But then linebacker John Mobley sacked Chandler for a 6-yard loss, and cornerback Darrius Johnson intercepted Chandler's pass and returned it 28 yards to the Falcons 42-yard line on the next play. Denver then drove to the 29-yard line, but Elam missed another field goal attempt, this one from 47 yards.
After the missed field goal, the Falcons drove to the Denver 21-yard line with Anderson's 13-yard run, wide receiver Terance Mathis's 13-yard catch, and a 15-yard run from Anderson, giving them a chance to cut their deficit to within one touchdown. However, Broncos defensive back Darrien Gordon intercepted a pass from Chandler and returned it 58 yards to the Atlanta 24-yard line. Five plays later, Griffith scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run to increase Denver's lead to 24-6.
The Falcons reached the Broncos 26-yard line on their ensuing drive, but Gordon intercepted another pass and returned this one 50 yards to the Atlanta 48-yard line. On the next play, Elway completed a short pass to running back Terrell Davis, who turned it into a 39-yard gain. Two plays later, Elway finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Broncos a 31-6 lead. (Elway became the second player in Super Bowl history to score a touchdown in four different Super Bowls. He ran for scores before in Super Bowls XXI, XXIV and XXXII, joining Thurman Thomas on this list).
Dwight returned the ensuing kickoff 94-yards for a touchdown to cut the score 31-13, but the Broncos recovered Atlanta's ensuing onside kick attempt. Two plays later, a 25-yard completion from Elway to receiver Ed McCaffrey set up Elam's 37-yard field goal with just over 7 minutes left in the final period.
The Falcons offense advanced inside the Denver 30-yard line for the third consecutive time, and finally scored this time on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Chandler to Mathis. Mathis' touchdown made the score 34-19 (Chandler's pass on the 2-point conversion attempted was incomplete), but by then there was only 2:04 left in the game. Atlanta failed to recover the onside kick, but got the ball back on their own 30-yard line with 1:34 left after Denver failed to "go for it" on fourth down. However, Jamal Anderson fumbled at the Broncos 33-yard line, Broncos defensive back Tyrone Braxton recovered the ball, allowing Denver to run out the clock and win the game. The two teams combined for a Super Bowl record 30 fourth-quarter points, with the Broncos' 17 and Falcons' 13.
The Falcons offense gained a total of 337 yards, were not penalized once, and had driven inside Denver's 30-yard line 7 times. But Atlanta's offense could only score 13 points and committed 5 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Broncos gained a total of 457 yards and scored 34 points.
For the Broncos, Davis recorded 102 rushing yards and caught 2 passes for 50 yards. Davis' 102 rushing yards in the Super Bowl gave him over 100 rushing yards for the 7th consecutive postseason game (and he was the 3rd player to run for 100 yards in back-to-back Super Bowls, the others being Larry Csonka in Super Bowls VII and VIII, and Emmitt Smith in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII). Davis became just the second player to be on a Super Bowl winning team after being named the NFL Most Valuable Player and leading the league in rushing. Emmitt Smith was the first one, but also was named Super Bowl MVP for Super Bowl XXVIII during that year. Marcus Allen is the only other player to win all three of these honors during his career. Allen won the 1985 NFL MVP Award and rushing title while being named Super Bowl XVIII MVP at the conclusion of the 1983 season.
Smith caught 5 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, an average of 30.4 yards per catch. Gordon recorded 2 interceptions and returned them for a Super Bowl record 108 yards. Jamal Anderson rushed for 96 yards and caught 3 passes for 16 yards. Dwight returned 5 kickoffs for 210 yards, the second most in Super Bowl history, and the highest Super Bowl career yards per return average(42.0). Falcons receiver Terance Mathis led Atlanta with 7 receptions for 85 yards. Chandler finished the game with 19 out of 35 completions for 219 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted 3 times.
- Stadium: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida
- Date: January 31, 1999
- Time: 6:25 p.m. EST
- TV network broadcast coverage: Fox Sports, Fox NFL Sunday Superbowl Special pregame program with studio host James Brown
- Game Announcers: Pat Summerall (play by play) and John Madden (analysis)
- Weather: 67 °F (19 °C), clear
- ATL - FG: Morten Andersen 32 yards 3-0 ATL
- DEN - TD: Howard Griffith 1 yard run (Jason Elam kick) 7-3 DEN
- DEN - FG: Jason Elam 26 yards 10-3 DEN
- DEN - TD: Rod Smith 80 yard pass from John Elway (Jason Elam kick) 17-3 DEN
- ATL - FG: Morten Andersen 28 yards 17-6 DEN
- DEN - TD: Howard Griffith 1 yard run (Jason Elam kick) 24-6 DEN
- DEN - TD: John Elway 3 yard run (Jason Elam kick) 31-6 DEN
- ATL - TD: Tim Dwight 94 yard kickoff return (Morten Andersen kick) 31-13 DEN
- DEN - FG: Jason Elam 37 yards 34-13 DEN
- ATL - TD: Terance Mathis 3 yard pass from Chris Chandler (2-pt conv: pass failed) 34-19 DEN
|Ed McCaffrey||WR||Terance Mathis|
|Tony Jones||LT||Bob Whitfield|
|Mark Schlereth||LG||Calvin Collins|
|Tom Nalen||C||Robbie Tobeck|
|Dan Neil||RG||Gene Williams|
|Harry Swayne||RT||Ephraim Salaam|
|Shannon Sharpe||TE||O.J. Santiago|
|Rod Smith||WR||Tony Martin|
|John Elway||QB||Chris Chandler|
|Terrell Davis||RB||Jamal Anderson|
|Howard Griffith||FB-TE||Brian Kozlowski|
|Harald Hasselbach||LE||Lester Archambeau|
|Keith Traylor||LDT||Travis Hall|
|Trevor Pryce||RDT||Shane Dronett|
|Maa Tanuvasa||RE||Chuck Smith|
|John Mobley||LOLB||Cornelius Bennett|
|Glenn Cadrez||MLB||Jessie Tuggle|
|Bill Romanowski||ROLB||Henri Crockett|
|Ray Crockett||LCB||Ray Buchanan|
|Darrien Gordon||RCB||Michael Booker|
|Tyrone Braxton||SS||William White|
|Steve Atwater||FS||Eugene Robinson|
- Referee: Bernie Kukar (#86)
- Umpire: Jim Daopoulos (#75)
- Head Linesman: Sanford Rivers (#121)
- Line Judge: Ron Baynes (#56)
- Field Judge: Tim Millis (#80)
- Side Judge: Gary Lane (#120)
- Back Judge: Don Hakes (#96)
- Alternate Referee: Gerald Austin (#34)
- Alternate Umpire: Chad Brown (#31)
- "NFC West", The Sporting News.
- Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M., and Korch, Rick. The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present. 1994 ISBN 0-312-11435-4
2006 NFL Record and Fact Book,. Time Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League,. Harper Collins. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
- The Sporting News: History of the Super Bowl (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
- 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)
- Sorrowful time: Falcons' Robinson gives postgame apology Last accessed December 3, 2005
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