Rams' fortunes hinge on final play of the game
Posted: Monday January 31, 2000 08:33 AM
Kevin Dyson's playoff luck ran out when he ran into linebacker Mike Jones in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. AP
By Ryan Hunt, CNNSI.com
ATLANTA -- One tackle. One yard. And one amazing finish to one improbable season for the St. Louis Rams.
Mike Jones had the ultimate game-saving tackle Sunday. It was a Super Bowl-saver. Jones stuffed Kevin Dyson and the Tennessee Titans on Super Bowl XXXIV's final play, clinching St. Louis' 23-16 win Sunday in the Georgia Dome.
The kind of play dreams are made of -- sort of.
"You dream of making the game-winning interception and taking it the other way, but not anything like this," Jones said. "I knew I was at the 2- or 3-yard line, and the only way [Dyson] was going to get in the end zone was a missed tackle. So I thought to myself, 'Wrap this guy up and we've won the game.'"
| CNNSI.com's Pat Kirwan |
"The Rams were in a particular coverage, which is called a 'three-on-two,' in the slot side. The first guy who goes deep gets a double cover. The guy who comes underneath gets a single.
"The wide receiver came under and got marked by Mike Jones. Mike did an excellent job. They had the first receiver doubled, so when Steve McNair looked, he saw double coverage and threw down below. End of game."
Jones did indeed wrap up Dyson after a 9-yard slant which ended Super Bowl XXXIV on the 1-yard line.
It was a fitting conclusion to two of the wildest minutes in Super Bowl history.
Following the Rams' go-ahead score, Steve McNair drove the Titans down the field 78 yards in a little more than 90 seconds just to get Tennessee in position to tie the score. McNair's Houdini-like escape from the grasps of Kevin Carter and Jay Williams and 16-yard completion to Dyson on the game's penultimate play had St. Louis on its heels.
Six seconds and 10 yards separated the Titans from the end zone -- and the first overtime in Super Bowl history. This time, though, there would be no miracle.
"It's ironic that it came down to something like that," said Dyson, who scored on an even more improbable kick return to beat Buffalo in the Wild Card round. "Maybe I should have pitched it back to somebody.
"As soon as I caught it I was thinking yellow paydirt. When we called the play, I didn't think anyone would be in the middle of the field."
"I never even saw the play, actually" said Carter, who nearly sacked McNair on the previous down to seal it. "I didn't know where [Dyson] was. Then I saw all my teammates jumping and all the confetti falling from the sky. That's when I knew he wasn't in the end zone."
The Rams, frankly, were surprised that McNair didn't throw the ball into the end zone in the first place. But when Dyson caught the slant near the right hash of the 4-yard line, Jones was there -- like he has been so often for the Rams this season.
"I knew my man Mike would be there," St. Louis middle linebacker London Fletcher said. "I just looked up at the clock, the clock was at zero. I didn't know what to do. It was the ultimate feeling -- relief, jubilation, fatigue. It was quite a moment."
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