"Elway, Broncos Ride Davis to First Super Bowl Win"
SAN DIEGO (January 25, 1998) - Terrell Davis' third one-yard touchdown run with 1:45 remaining capped a brilliant 157-yard performance and lifted the Denver Broncos to a stunning 31-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego, their first NFL championship in the 38-year history of the franchise.
The Packers were heavily favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but were unable to contain Davis, a San Diego native who set a Super Bowl record with his three rushing touchdowns and earned Most Valuable Player honors.
Denver was 0-4 in Super Bowls, including three losses with quarterback John Elway, who at 37 was taking perhaps his last shot at a Super Bowl title. But it was the electrifying cut-back running of Davis, who carried 30 times behind the smallest offensive line in the NFL, that ended the Super Bowl misery for the Broncos.
"I'm numb right now. I can't reflect on my game," Davis said. "It is going to take a while for this to set in."
"I can't believe it," Elway said. "I treasure all those thoughts and the players. It's just great. It's a great organization. I am so proud that this team came together. We did it the hard way, but for all the Bronco fans that never had this feeling, we finally got it done."
The Broncos also snapped the AFC's 13-game losing streak in the Super Bowl. The last win by an AFC team came in Super Bowl XVIII when the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins, 38-9, in 1984.
Denver also became just the second wild-card team to win a Super Bowl, joining the 1980 Oakland Raiders.
Denver's offensive line, with none of its five starters over 300 pounds, consistently opened holes for Davis against a Green Bay defensive line that featured 345-pound nose tackle Gilbert Brown and 305-pound end Reggie White.
Elway completed just 12-of-22 passes for 123 yards and one interception. But he also scored on a one-yard run and made a handful of key plays.
Three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre completed 25-of-42 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, but could not rally the Packers after Davis' go-ahead score. Antonio Freeman had nine catches for 126 yards and Dorsey Levens rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries for Green Bay, which was denied a dynasty.
"We got behind early, 17-7, and battled back, and it was like we used so much energy coming back, in the end, we just fell short," said Packers coach Mike Holmgren. "You have to give Denver all the credit in the world. They played a fine football game. Terrell Davis was deserving of the MVP award. They had a good plan, and in a kind of strange way, I've enjoyed John Elway, but I wish he hadn't done it against me."
"They blitzed as much as we thought they would," said Favre. "We handled it pretty well, we scored three touchdowns. We made our mistakes and they capitalized on them. They got 10 points off turnovers and I think that was the difference in the game. We didn't see anything we didn't expect. They blitzed and we picked it up for the most part but we made two mistakes."
The game was tied 24-24 when the Broncos took over at the Green Bay 49 with 3:27 remaining. On the first play, Packers defensive end Darius Holland, who had replaced the injured Gabe Wilkins in the first half, was penalized 15 yards for grabbing the facemask of Davis after a two-yard run. One play later, fullback Howard Griffith caught a swing pass from Elway and turned it into a 23-yard gain to the Green Bay 8. After the two-minute warning, Davis raced around left end for a seven-yard gain, but the play was negated when tight end Shannon Sharpe was penalized 10 yards for holding Packers linebacker Seth Joyner. On the next play, Davis again ran around left end behind tackle Gary Zimmerman and gained 17 yards before he was pushed out of bounds at the Green Bay 1 by cornerback Tyrone Williams. Davis then walked through a massive hole up the middle for the winning touchdown.
The Packers took over at their own 39 with a chance to force the first overtime in Super Bowl history. Levens turned a short pass from Favre into a 22-yard gain to the Denver 48. Favre then connected with Levens on a 13-yard play to the Denver 35 with 64 seconds left. But following another four-yard pass to Levens, Favre threw two incompletions and the Packers faced 4th-and-6 at the Denver 31 with 36 seconds left. Favre attempted to hit tight end Mark Chmura with a quick pass up the middle, but the play was broken up by Broncos linebacker John Mobley.
"We were just trying to make a play at the end of a game," said Favre of the fourth-down pass. "That's all we were trying to do. If the play works, then it's a great call. If it doesn't then we should have called something else. We called what we thought was our best stuff and we did not take advantage of it. We just didn't make the plays when we had a chance."
"We lost to a great football team and we have nothing to be ashamed of," Chmura said. "We've got to regroup and try to reclaim what they took from us today next year. The longer you get into the playoffs the harder it is to accept losing. They're the number one offense in the league, so we expected them to at least move the ball on us some. We thought it might be kind of a shootout, the bottom line is that they just put more points on the line than we did."
What made Davis' performance even more amazing is that he suffered a migraine attack at the end of the first quarter and missed the entire second quarter. But when Davis returned, he fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the second half and Williams recovered for Green Bay at the Denver 26. The turnover set up a 27-yard field goal by Green Bay's Ryan Longwell, tying the game at 17-17 three minutes into the third quarter.
Elway had just 27 yards passing for the game until he engineered a 13-play, 92-yard scoring drive that consumed 7:12 of the third quarter. Elway completed 3-of-4 passes for 53 yards, including a 36-yard pass to Ed McCaffrey, before Davis scored on a one-yard run to give Denver a 24-17 lead with 34 seconds left in the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Freeman fumbled after being hit by Tony Veland and Tim McKyer recovered for the Broncos at the Green Bay 22. However, the Broncos squandered the opportunity when Elway was intercepted in the end zone by Packers safety Eugene Robinson on the next play. "We had a chance to put a little pressure on them," said Shanahan on the lost opportunity. "Eugene made a good play by getting over to the receiver (Rod Smith)."
Favre then marched the Packers 85 yards in four plays and hit Freeman with a 13-yard touchdown pass 1:28 into the fourth quarter to tie the game at 24-24. He opened the drive with a 27-yard pass to Freeman on the final play of the third quarter. Favre then threw a deep pass down the right sideline to Robert Brooks, who drew a 25-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Darrien Gordon to the Denver 33. Freeman caught a 17-yard pass to the 13 before the game-tying touchdown.
For the first time in Super Bowl history, both teams scored on their first possession.