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Sports Then and Now

Fun in the Sun: History of the Super Bowl in Miami

Posted on February 06, 2010 by Chris Kent
The upset of the Jets over the Colts is among the great Super Bowl moments that have occured in Miami.

The upset of the Jets over the Colts is among the great Super Bowl moments that have occurred in Miami.

Sunday will mark the tenth time the Super Bowl has been played in the City of Miami and like most of the other nine you can expect lots of excitement and fireworks between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.

Billed as a shootout between two high scoring offenses, Super Bowl XLIV matches two teams capable of scoring lots of points and a pair of marquee quarterbacks at the height of their success. Both teams finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 in several offensive categories including points, points per-game, total passing yards, passing yards per-game, and total yards per-game. New Orleans was first in points (510), point per-game (31.9), and total yards per-game (403.8). The Saints also ranked fourth in both total passing yards (4,355) and passing yards per-game (272.2). On the other side, the Colts ranked seventh in both points scored (416) and points per-game (26.0). Indianapolis also ranked second in the league in both total passing yards (4,515) and passing yards per-game (282.2) while placing ninth in total yards per-game (363.1). While these are gaudy numbers, they only address one side of the ball.

There is something else called defense and with it a saying that, “Defense wins Championships.” So what do the defenses have to offer in this one? If you are the Colts, you hopefully have Dwight Freeney at defensive end. However, the torn ligaments in his right ankle that he suffered in the AFC Championship game against the Jets make him virtually a game time decision. Freeney teams with Robert Mathis to give the Colts bookend tackles that can pressure the quarterback. If Freeney is limited by the injury or can’t play at all, Indianapolis will turn to eight-year veteran Raheem Brock. Linebackers Clint Session and Gary Brackett will have to shoulder more of the tackling load. The Colts secondary could be tested more if the absence of Freeney leads to more time for Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees in the pocket.

For New Orleans, ends Bobby McCray and Will Smith will need to get pressure on Manning while defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis will have to anchor the run defense in the middle. Safety Darren Sharper is the leader in the secondary and is a ballhawk. How he reads and reacts to Manning’s calls at the line of scrimmage will play a big role in this game.

Super Bowl XLIV promises to be an offensive showcase for Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.

Super Bowl XLIV promises to be an offensive showcase for Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.

Aside from numbers, there are also many storylines and subplots in this game. The Saints are playing not only for their fans but for their city which is still rebounding from hurricane Katrina, which turned their home – the Superdome – into a refugee center when the disaster struck in August 2005. The Saints still feel an emotional connection to their city, fans, and the ordinary residents who have dealt with family losses and the rebuilding of their lives from that, some of which is still going on. That gives the Saints an emotional edge.

There is also the subplot of Peyton Manning, the son of Archie who quarterbacked the Saints when they were called the Aints and had fans show up to games wearing grocery bags over their heads due to a hapless New Orleans team from 1971 to 1982. No doubt Archie has to have a heavy heart as he watches his son play for a championship against not only his hometown team, but the team he used to play for.

Then there is the city of Miami. The city where Manning won his first Super Bowl three years ago when he navigated his team through rain and a sloppy field en route to being named the games Most Valuable Player following a 29-17 win over Chicago. The Colts took just a five-point lead into the fourth quarter before an interception return for a touchdown ended up sealing the win. Plays like that and matchups like this Super Bowl features at quarterback have been part of the lore of Super Bowls in Miami.

While this is the first Super Bowl berth for the Saints, it is far from the first showing of football’s biggest game in Miami. This is the 10th Super Bowl that will be played in Miami and if the previous nine in the sunshine state are any indication, this one is bound to have some surprises, drama, and big plays.

Miami has produced the only MVP from the losing team with Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley receiving the honor in Super Bowl V in 1971 when the Cowboys lost 16-13 to the Baltimore Colts.

Drama you ask? How about the two four-point duels between Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach in Super Bowls X and XIII between Pittsburgh and Dallas. While Pittsburgh won them both, Staubach engineered late drives in the clutch in both of them only to come up short.

Want better clutch in Miami? Look no further than Joe Montana’s comeback in Super Bowl XXIII. Trailing Cincinnati 20-16 with 3:10 left in the game, Montana connected with John Taylor on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to play to win it.

Still not satisfied? How about upsets? Look no further than Joe Namath’s guarantee that the New York Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. That they did.

The unexpected and NFL records have also been seen in Miami’s Super Bowls. Most recently, it was Chicago’s Devin Hester becoming the first player to ever return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, doing so in Super Bowl XLI in 2007.

In more general terms, five of the nine previous games played in Miami have been decided by nine points or less. If you are just a football fan and not a fan of either the Colts or Saints, you can only hope that the 10th Miami Super Bowl gives us our sixth in this category. Considering the types of quarterbacks at center stage in this one, drama-filled action could be in store.

That aside, whatever you like in a Super Bowl, Miami has been a good place to find it. Read on to take a closer look at what has taken place in the nine previous Super Bowls played in Miami.

SUPER BOWL II – The First One
January 14, 1968 / Green Bay 33, Oakland 14

Super Bowl II was the last game for Vince Lombardi as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

Super Bowl II was the last game for Vince Lombardi as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

1. The first Super Bowl played in Miami featured the team of the 1960’s, the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay was coached by the man for whom the Super Bowl Trophy is named for today, Vice Lombardi. The Packers won before an Orange Bowl crowd of 75,546 fans. It was the second straight Super Bowl title for Green Bay. The warmth of Miami had to be welcomed by the Packers. The week before, they beat Dallas 21-17 in the historic Ice Bowl on a frozen field with a wind-chill factor that measured an incredible 46 degrees below. Green Bay stalwart middle linebacker Ray Nitschke was even seen with a limp in Miami and he said a few of his toes were being treated for frostbite. On the emotional side, rumors had circulated for the last month of the season about Lombardi’s future. He broke the news to the team that this would be his last game as coach. Lombardi went out as a champion.

SUPER BOWL III – The Surprise Guarantee
January 12, 1969 / New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

2. Perhaps the most famous guarantee in sports history dominated the headlines of this Super Bowl. Despite the New York Jets being an 18-point undergo to the 15-1 Baltimore Colts, Jets quarterback Joe Namath “guaranteed” a New York victory. Namath had the poise to pull it off as he went 17-for-28 for 206 yards with no interceptions. He was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player. Running back Matt Snell scored the only touchdown for the Jets while Jim Turner kicked three field goals to account for all of New York’s scoring. Snell led the Jets with 30 carries for 121 yards.

SUPER BOWL V – Field Goal Wins It
January 17, 1971 / Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13

3. America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, made their first appearance in the big game. This was the first Super Bowl overall to come down to the closing seconds. With the game tied 13-13, Dallas quarterback Craig Morton had his pass tipped and intercepted by Baltimore middle linebacker Mike Curtis who returned it 13 yards to the Dallas 28. Only 59 seconds remained and three plays later Jim O’Brien kicked a 32-yard field goal for the winning margin. Dallas ran one play with five second left and Morton’s pass, intended for Walt Garrison, was intercepted by safety Jerry Logan who ran it out of bounds to secure the win.

SUPER BOWL X – Clutch Quarterbacking
January 18, 1976 / Pittsburgh 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

Lynn Swann made a number of spectacular catches during Super Bowl X.

Lynn Swann made a number of spectacular catches during Super Bowl X.

4. The Orange Bowl was the site for the first of two of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. While Dallas was a perennial playoff team under the leadership of club president Tex Schramm, head coach Tom Landry, and quarterback Roger Staubach, Pittsburgh was emerging as a dominant team having won the Super Bowl the previous year. The Steelers also boasted the “Steel Curtain” defense with the likes of Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood. Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Mel Blount. This game was a clash of styles as Pittsburgh looked to pound the ball on offense with the running of Franco Harris and bully Dallas on defense with the likes of Greene and Lambert. The Cowboys had started to employ the shotgun offense and use guile and trickery. Dallas took a 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter but would give up 14 unanswered points on a safety, two field goals, and a touchdown followed by a mixed extra point that gave the Steelers a 21-10 lead with 3:02 to play. Staubach then led the Cowboys on a five-play 80-yard drive ending with a 34-yard touchdown pass to reserve wide receiver Percy Howard with 1:48 left. Pittsburgh’s ensuing drive saw them turn it over on downs with 1:22 to play. Staubach went to work from his own 39-yard line and got the Cowboys two straight first downs putting them at the Pittsburgh 38-yard line. Three passes later on third-and-10, Staubach had his pass intercepted by safety Glen Edwards who ran out the clock while returning it to Pittsburgh’s 33-yard line. Lynn Swann was the MVP as he had 4 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.

SUPER BOWL XIII – More Clutch Quarterbacking
January 21, 1979 / Pittsburgh 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

5. This time, Dallas was the defending Super Bowl Champions, having defeated Denver 27-10 in Super Bowl XII. Miami was again treated to a classic. Dallas entered Miami with an eight-game winning streak. The teams played to 7-7 and 14-14 ties during the first half before Terry Bradshaw threw his third touchdown pass of the half to Rocky Bleir for a 21-14 lead at intermission. A play that stuck out like a sore thumb for Dallas was a dropped pass by reserve tight end Jackie Smith in the end zone. The missed connection could have tied the game as Smith was open and Staubach’s pass was perfect. Instead, Dallas settled for a field goal and trailed 21-17. The Steelers built their lead to 35-17 with 6:51 left to play. Staubach engineered consecutive touchdown drives first tossing a seven-yard scoring pass to tight end Billy Joe DuPree. Dallas defensive back Dennis Thurman then recovered an onside kick by Rafael Septien. Staubach then drove Dallas on a nine-play 52-yard drive ending with a four-yard touchdown pass to reserve wide receiver Butch Johnson. It was now 35-31. Septien attempted another onside kick which Bleir recovered. Bradshaw knelt down twice to end the game. Bradshaw and Staubach combined for seven touchdown passes.

SUPER BOWL XXIII – Joe Cool in the Clutch
January 22, 1989 / San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16

Joe Montana led the 49ers on the game winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII.

Joe Montana led the 49ers on the game winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII.

6. The 1988-89 season culminated in ultimate fashion. Trailing 16-13 with 3:10 left in the game, San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana rose to the occasion with a clutch 11-play drive covering 92 yards in 2:46. Montana moved the ball in small six-to-eight yard chunks to get the 49ers some breathing room after starting at their own eight-yard line. The key play on the drive came at the most opportune time. On second-and-10 at the Cincinnati 35, Montana completed a 4-yard pass to Roger Craig but the play was negated as the 49ers had an ineligible man downfield resulting in a 10-yard penalty. It was the only penalty on the drive. With Joe cool at the controls, Montana followed that play with a 27-yard pass to Jerry Rice on second-and-20. Two plays later, Montana found John Taylor on a 10-yard post pattern for the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds left to play. The ball was handled on nine of the 11 plays by either Rice or Craig. Mike Cofer converted the all-important extra point to ensure a four-point lead leaving the Bengals with no choice but to score a touchdown to win it. Time ran out and the 49ers had their third Super Bowl win in the 1980’s.

SUPER BOWL XXIX – Young’s Monkey Lifted
January 29, 1995 / San Francisco 49, San Diego 26

Steve Young tossed six touchdowns in Super Bowl XXIX.

Steve Young tossed six touchdowns in Super Bowl XXIX.

7. Playing in the shadow of Joe Montana for so many years and coming up short to a dominant Dallas team the previous two years in the NFC Championship Game, San Francisco quarterback Steve Young finally got the monkey off his back. Times three you might say. He led the 49ers to a 38-28 win over Dallas in the NFC Championship game, won his first Super Bowl as a starting quarterback, and in the process set a still-standing Super Bowl record with six touchdown passes en route to receiving MVP honors. Visions of teammates placing their hands over his back and pretending to lift “the monkey” off his back covered the sideline in the closing minutes, symbolic of what Young and the 49ers had accomplished. It was the 49ers first Super Bowl win in five years, considered a drought for San Francisco at the time. Young finished 24-of-36 for 325 yards while the 49ers piled up 449 yards of total yardage. Rice had 10 receptions for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns.

January 31, 1999 / Denver 34, Atlanta 19

8. After finally winning his first title – in his fourth try – the year before, John Elway and the Denver Broncos proved that they could defend a title also by beating an Atlanta team that was making their first Super Bowl appearance. Elway garnered MVP honors after going 18-for-29 for 336 yards with one touchdown while also running for one touchdown. The win made the Broncos the first AFC team to win consecutive Super Bowls since the Steelers won Super Bowls XIII and XIV. Terrell Davis ran 25 times for 102 yards to lead Denver.

SUPER BOWL XLI – Manning’s Monkey Lifted
February 4, 2007 / Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17

Manning hopes to be holding another Super Bowl trophy following Super Bowl XLIV.

Manning hopes to be holding another Super Bowl trophy following Super Bowl XLIV.

9. Dealing with a similar situation to what Steve Young felt over a decade earlier, Peyton Manning got the monkey off his back. After playing second fiddle as one of the league’s best quarterbacks to AFC rival Tom Brady of New England, Manning led the Colts over Brady and the Patriots in a thrilling AFC Championship Game. Facing the Bears in the Super Bowl, it was the first matchup of African American head coaches with Tony Dungy facing Chicago’s Lovie Smith. A soggy field from a steady rain throughout the game made for less than ideal playing conditions. However, it didn’t matter from the start as Chicago’s Devin Hester became the first player in Super Bowl history to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown as he sped 92 yards untouched for a quick six. The rain was a factor as each team turned the ball over three times in the first half alone when football’s most clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a chip-shot field goal for the Colts, who also botched an extra point attempt. Leading 22-17 with 11:44 left in the fourth quarter the Colts’ Kelvin Hayden intercepted a wobbly Rex Grossman pass and returned it 56 yeards for a touchdown as Indianapolis assumed control and went on to win. Manning finished 25-of-38 for 247 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

February 7, 2010 / Indianapolis versus New Orleans ???

10. I am not making any predictions. Points should be plentiful. However as they say, defense wins championships. Somewhere along the way, one of the defenses will make a game-changing play. I’ll just say that the scoreboard operator might be the MVP in this game. That is, Most Valuable Person!

Notes and Trends on Super Bowls in Miami
• The closest margin of victory has been three points (Super Bowl V, Baltimore 16, Dallas 13)
• The biggest margin of victory has been 23 points (SB XXIX, San Francisco 49, San Diego 26)
• Two teams have won multiple Super Bowls in Miami (Pittsburgh in X and XIII; San Francisco in XXIII and XXIX). Indianapolis (XLI) can join them win a victory over the Saints.
• The first and only opening kickoff return for a touchdown happened in SB XLI in 2007 when
• Chicago’s Devin Hester ran 92 yards untouched for a quick six.
• With the exception of Peyton Manning, who will one day join them, every starting quarterback for the winning team in a Super Bowl played in Miami is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
• Five of the previous 9 games have been decided by 9 points or less (9, 3, 4, 4, 4)
• Kickoff returns for touchdowns have been common in Miami as there have been four:
– SB XXIII – Stanford Jennings, 93 yards for Cincinnati (loss)
– SB XXIX – Andre Coleman, 98 yards for San Diego (loss)
– SB XXXIII – Tim Dwight, 94 yards for Atlanta (loss)
– SB XLI – Devin Hester, 92 yards for Chicago (loss)

Super Bowl MVPs in nine previous games in Miami:
• Six of the previous nine MVP’s have been quarterbacks and they have all been different ones
• SB II – Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers, QB
• SB III – Joe Namath, New York Jets, QB
• SB V – *Chuck Howley, Dallas, LB
• SB X – Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh, WR
• SB XIII – Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh, QB
• SB XXIII – Jerry Rice, San Francisco, WR
• SB XXIX – Steve Young, San Francisco, QB
• SB XXXIII – John Elway, Denver, QB
• SB XLI – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, QB

*Only MVP from the losing team in any Super Bowl to date regardless of site

We welcome Chris Kent as a writer for Sports Then and Now. Chris is a free lance writer who is a sports and recreation enthusiast. His work has been published in newspapers, brochures, media guides, and web sites. Kent holds an MA degree in Public Communications. He resides in upstate, NY near Ithaca.

Credits: The Super Bowl, Celebrating a Quarter Century of America’s Greatest Game, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY; ESPN Sports Almanacs (various years);

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