"Repeat is sweet for Elway-led Broncos"
MIAMI (Jan. 31, 1999) - If this is the end, John Elway went out like a Super Bowl MVP.
Elway completed 18-of-29 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score to lead the Denver Broncos to a 34-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player Stadium.
The Broncos (17-2) became the first AFC team to repeat as Super Bowl champion since the 1978-79 Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver beat the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, last year in Super Bowl XXXII.
The 38-year-old Elway indicated this would probably be his final season and he may ride off into the sunset with back-to-back Super Bowl titles.
"This is what we play for, to have this opportunity," Elway said. "To be able to do it two years in a row is unbelievable. I have been around for 16 years, and the last two is the only time I have ever been able to get to win the Super Bowl."
However, if Elway decides to return for a 17th season, he would have a shot at becoming the only quarterback to win three straight Super Bowl titles. "(It) definitely will go into the thinking and throw a kink into the thinking on what I decide to do next year," said Elway, who today became the first quarterback to start in five Super Bowls. "But I am not going to cross that bridge for awhile."
Ironically, Elway's finest Super Bowl game came against former coach Dan Reeves, who guided the Falcons to the first Super Bowl appearance in the franchise's 33-year history. Under Reeves, Elway endured three miserable Super Bowl losses by a combined 136-40.
Rod Smith was Elway's favorite target in the first half before he shifted the passing attack to Ed McCaffrey in the second half. Smith had 4 receptions for 144 yards and a demoralizing 80-yard touchdown in the first half and finished with 5 catches for 152 yards. McCaffrey caught 5 passes for 72 yards, all in the second half.
This time, NFL rushing champion Terrell Davis took a back seat to Elway, although he did run for 102 yards on 25 carries and set an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard game in the playoffs. Last season, Davis earned Super Bowl MVP honors with 157 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns.
Fullback Howard Griffith scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and the Denver defense, overshadowed by the team's offensive prowess most of the season, again delivered a big-time performance. The Broncos intercepted Chris Chandler three times in the second half, including two which cornerback Darrien Gordon returned 50 and 58 yards to set up a pair of touchdowns.
"We just went out and the D-line did a great job with the pressure to force Chandler into some bad decisions," Gordon said. "And I was in the right place at the right time."
The lone touchdown allowed by the Broncos' defense came with just 2:04 left after the outcome had long been decided.
Denver coach Mike Shanahan, fired by Reeves as an assistant with the Broncos after the 1991 season, became the fifth coach to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Shanahan has a 7-1 career record in the postseason. "I think it's special for everyone in the organization," said Shanahan. "One guy doesn't do it. A head coach doesn't do it. A quarterback doesn't do it. You have a lot of people going in the same direction. That's the only way you win championships."
Reeves appeared in the Super Bowl for the ninth time as a player, coach or assistant. However, he has lost all four times as the head man, joining Marv Levy of Buffalo and Bud Grant of Minnesota as the only other coaches with 0-4 records in the Super Bowl. "Congratulations to the Denver Broncos, what a great football team," Reeves said. "We just didn't play well and I knew if we didn't play well, we would get beat. We just didn't get the job done."
Eugene Robinson played a horrific game. He was victimized by Smith on the long touchdown and made numerous incorrect reads over the middle. "I really got no sleep," Robinson said. "However, when it came to the game tonight, I was extremely focused on the game. It did not affect my play today because it was pretty much therapeutic. I really don't think we played well enough to win the game."
Morten Andersen kicked a pair of field goals to account for Atlanta's only scoring in the first half, but missed a 26-yard attempt in the second quarter.
Falcons rookie Tim Dwight returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter after Denver had built a 31-6 lead. In collecting the fifth kickoff return for a score in Super Bowl history, Dwight was Atlanta's best player with five kick returns for 210 yards.
This was the first Super Bowl featuring the NFL's top rushers. Atlanta's Jamal Anderson nearly matched Davis with 96 yards on 18 carries, but was nowhere near the factor the Falcons hoped.