January 25, 1998: Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego between the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers was significant for many reasons. Not only was it one of the greatest Super Bowl games played, but it was John Elway's first win in the big game after three previous tries, and Denver's first championship after losing its first four. It also was the AFC's first Super Bowl title after a 13-game losing streak vs. the NFC.
Denver came in as a 12-4 wild card team, while Green Bay was defending Super Bowl champions and had a 13-3 regular season record. The Packers were favored by double digits, and would become the first team as that big of a favorite to lose since Super Bowl VI.
Denver's offense was led by Elway and running back Terrell Davis. Elway had 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season to make the Pro Bowl, while Davis had 1750 yards and 15 touchdowns. Packers QB Brett Favre was the league MVP for a record third consecutive season with 35 touchdowns, 3,867 yards and 16 interceptions.
The teams traded touchdowns on the first two possessions, but Denver converted two turnovers into a 17-7 lead. The Packers cut it to 17-14 at halftime on a Favre touchdown pass.
The second half was a back-and-forth contest. The Packers tied the game at 17. That's when Elway led the Broncos down the field. On a crucial third down at the Green Bay 12-yard line in the third quarter, the 37-year-old Elway took off scrambling and put his body at risk as he dove for the first down. Elway was hit by two defenders and spun around in what became known as "The Helicopter" play. and was the defining moment of the game and Elway's amazing career. See it here:
After the scramble, Davis eventually scored from 1-yard out, giving Denver a 24-17 lead. Green Bay would tie it once again on another Favre touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Both defenses would tighten up until the Broncos final drive. Davis' 17-yard-run gave Denver the ball second-and-goal at the 1 with just 1:47 remaining. The Packers had 2 timeouts remaining, but head coach Mike Holmgren instructed his team to let Davis score the touchdown:
Holmgren wanted to give Favre plenty of time to answer, but Denver's defense came through and the Broncos would be Super Bowl champions, 31-24, in an all-time great game.
Despite playing through a massive migrane headache that started in the second quarter, and even left Davis blurry eyed during part of the game, Davis was named the game's MVP with an amazing performance: He ran for 157 yards, caught two passes for 8 yards, and scored a Super Bowl record three rushing touchdowns.
Elway got his first ring, and a year later would get his second and would be a Super Bowl MVP. But on this day 17 years ago, Elway would no longer be considered the greatest QB not to win a ring and the monkey was off the Denver Broncos' back. Here's to you, John Elway and the 1997 Denver Broncos team.