The Pack Is Back!
Vince Lombardi would have been proud.
Behind the magnificent passing of Brett Favre and the spectacular kick returning of Desmond Howard, the Green Bay Packers won their first Super Bowl in 29 years by defeating the New England Patriots 35-21.
Howard, who had been cut by two other NFL teams, joined with Andre Rison, a castoff in four other cities, to provide the biggest plays for the Packers, who won their third Super Bowl in as many games.
Green Bay scored first, fought off a New England rally in what turned into one of the better Super Boal games in recent years, and then slammed the door shut on the Patriots in the fourth quarter.
On the Packers' second play from scrimmage, Favre saw that the Patriots were in a familiar coverage in which a blitz was coming and the safeties were up tight,so he audibled into "Razor," which is a post-and-shake to Rison. Fifty-four yards later Rison shaked-and-baked into the endzone for a 7-0 Green Bay lead.
After a Chris Jacke field goal put Green Bay up 10-0--and another NFC blowout looming--the Patriots struck back to score two touchdowns in the first quarter. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe, calm and cool, led New England downfield, ending a six-play, 79-yard drive with a one-yard TD pass to Keith Byars. The Green Bay offense went three-and-out, and then Bledsoe went back to work. The fourth-year pro connected with Terry Glenn on a 44-yard completion on third-and-one, and then connected with Ben Coates on a four-yard scoring pass. The game was on.
Green Bay immediately bounced back with an 81-yard Favre-to-Antonio Freeman touchdown and the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history. The Packers were back in the lead for good. With the Green Bay ground game taking over, the score was pushed to 27-14 at halftime after a 31-yard field goal by Chris Jacke and a two-yard TD run by Favre.
In the third quarter, New England got its running game going. Curtis Martin broke two tackles on the way to an 18-yard scamper into the endzone. Suddenly the Patriots trailed by only 27-21, and it looked like it might be a ballgame after all. Enter Desmond Howard, who set league records during the regular season for his kick returns.
Howard gathered in the ensuing kickoff at the one-yard line, headed up the middle of the field, broke one tackle and was gone. Touchdown. Super Bowl record. Super Bowl MVP. Ballgame.
Howard gained 244 yards on kick returns--six punts for 90 yards and four kickoffs for 154 yards--to become the first kick returner to be named Most Valuable Player.
New England head coach Bill Parcells said Howard's TD was the difference in the game. "We had a lot of momentum on that drive (to our third TD). But he made the big play, and I credit him for it."
Green Bay's Reggie White also set a Super Bowl record with three sacks of Bledsoe, as he won his first league championship. "Now I'm getting a ring," said the star defensive end.
And the Pack was back as Super Bowl champions.