Tampa Bay really is no stranger to the grandest party in the National Football League, the season ending soirée know as the Super Bowl. They say you always remember your first. I do remember the first time the Super Bowl came to town in 1984 in Super Bowl XVIII, and the Raiders beating the Redskins by a record 28 points, 38-9. But the next Super Bowl held at the Big Sombrero is the one that I remember more vividly. It was seven(7) short years later in 1991 that the NFL would return, but this time with a twist of patriotic post season pizzazz in Super Bowl XXV.
The big game would feature the New York Giants vs the Buffalo Bills. Bill Parcells vs Marv Levy. Jeff Hostetler vs Jim Kelly. The 13-3 Giants with their ball control offense and a defense that allowed a league low 211 points that season. The 13-3 Bills with their explosive no huddle offense having scored a league high 428 points that season. It was #1 vs #2.
Because of the ongoing gulf war conflict security was unprecedented. As Whitney Houston performed a historical rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”, it felt like every eye in the free world was looking at Tampa Bay at that very moment, and we looked good. In fact, the halftime show featuring the boy band New Kids On The Block would not be telecast until after the game, tape delayed so there could be a special news update by Peter Jennings at halftime of the game.
The game itself was a classic. Becoming the only Super Bowl decided by a single point. Also, the first to not have a single turnover. The Giants would use that stifling ball control offfense to possess the ball for a record 40 minutes and 33 seconds. The Bills would still move the ball down the field in the final minute, with HOF quarterback Jim Kelly clocking the ball and giving Buffalo a 47 yard field goal attempt from kicker Scott Norwood. In one of the most dramatic endings to a championship game ever seen, the ball would sail right making the Giants the world champions and giving Buffalo their first of what would painfully end up being four(4) Super Bowl losses in a row.
Tampa Bay was now 2-0 when it came to hosting the worlds biggest game. As stadiums have gotten better, and more expensive, the NFL has more venues to take their party to. But here in west-central Florida, we do put on a good show.
Sources: ESPN.com, Wikipedia