January 27, 1991: Super Bowl XXV was a fantastic matchup between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills, who were making their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Unfortunately for the Bills they would experience the first of four Super Bowl heartaches in a row, and this one in dramatic fashion.
The Giants (13-3) had come off a major upset in the last seconds against the San Francisco 49ers. The offense was led by quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who had replaced the injured Phil Simms earlier in the season. Lawrence Taylor anchored the nasty defense that knocked out Joe Montana in the NFC title game. The Bills (13-3), meanwhile, were worthy opponents, with tons of Pro Bowl talent. Bruce Smith and his 19 sacks were NFL Defensive Player of the Year, while the no-huddle offense featured QB Jim Kelly, AFC-leading rusher Thurman Thomas, and receivers Andre Reed and James Lofton.
The game, played in Tampa, was during the height of the Gulf War and there was a patriotic buzz throughout the stadium. The late Whitney Houston delivered an unforgettable National Anthem performance that will give you chills:
After feeling each other out a bit in the first quarter with a pair of field goals, the fireworks began in the second quarter. Kelly found his groove, including 63-yards to Reed, and running back Don Smith gave Buffalo a 10-3 lead. Bruce Smith then sacked Hostetler in the end zone for a safety. Hostetler would bounce back with a touchdown pass to cut the lead to 12-10 at halftime.
In the second half, the Giants came out and ran the football with Otis Anderson, and his 1-yard score gave New York a 17-12 lead. On the first play of the fourth, Thurman Thomas burst through the defense for a 31-yard touchdown, giving Buffalo a 19-17 lead. Hostetler and Anderson lead the Giants on a time consuming 14-play drive that took off over 7 minutes of the clock. The Bills would hold them to a field goal, however, setting the stages for a dramatic finish.
After trading punts, the Bills got the ball with 2:16 remaining in the game at their own 10-yard line. Kelly brilliantly led the team down the field, mixed with runs from Thomas. That set up Scott Norwood for a 47-yard kick with 8 seconds left. His kick would sail wide right and the Bills would leave their first Super Bowl devastated, losing 20-19.
Anderson. who rushed for 102 yards, caught a pass for seven yards, and scored a touchdown was named MVP. Thomas was a monster in the loss, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown and catching for another 55 yards.
The defensive game plan to slow down the fast-paced Bills was genius by the Giants. And who called the game for New York? None other than defensive coordinator Bill Belichick. You may have heard of him.
Here's to you New York Giants and Buffalo Bills for a fantastic Super Bowl.