January 30, 2000:: Super Bowl XXXIV between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta is one of the best finishes in the big game ever when the Titans fell 1-yard short of potential overtime, losing 23-16 as time expired.
The 13-3 Rams became known that season as "The Greatest Show on Turf" with a high-powered offense featuring MVP Kurt Warner. Warner, who was in his first season as a starter due to Trent Green's injury, completed one of the top seasons by a quarterback in NFL history by throwing for 4,353 yards with 41 touchdown passes and a completion rate of 65.1%. It helped he had receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and running back Marshall Faulk behind him. The 1999 Rams remain one of only four teams in NFL history to score more than 30 points twelve separate times in a single season, and quite simply were one of the funnest offense ever to watch.
The Titans (13-3), were a physical team on both offense and defense with quarterback Steve McNair, running back Eddie George, and defensive end Jevon Kearse.
This was only the fourth Super Bowl to be held a week after the conference championship games. The Rams used their defense to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 11-6, in the NFC Championship in a hard fought game. The Titans were a wild card team, and had to win that game on what became known as "The Music City Miracle" on a lateral pass. They would then eek by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on the road, 19-16, before crushing the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-14 in the AFC Championship.
For the first half of the game, the defenses set the tone. The high-powered Rams were able to drive the ball on the Titans, but couldn't get touchdowns. Despite out-gaining the Titans 294–89 in the first half, the Rams only had a 9-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, the offensive fireworks started. Warner's 9-yard touchdown to Holt made it 16-0. George then scored from 1-yard out, but Tennessee missed the two-point conversion, making it 16-6. The Titans would force a punt and then score again on a George two-yard run, making it 16-13. A Tennessee field goal with 2:12 left in the game tied. The 16-point deficit was the largest deficit to be erased in a Super Bowl and the first greater than 10 points, but the Titans just couldn't grab the lead.
Warner and the Rams did what they had done all season, strike on a big play. On the very first play of the possession, Warner faced pressure but threw a strike down field that Bruce took for a 73-yard touchdown. That, however, left McNair and the Titans time to score. McNair drove them all the way from their own 12-yard line with just 1:48 left, to the St. Louis 10-yard line with incredible plays of escapability and athleticism.
With just 6 seconds left in the game and no timeouts remaining, what unfolded would simply become known as "The Tackle". McNair found receiver Kevin Dyson in the middle of the field and when it looked like he would be able to score, Rams linebacker Mike Jones was able to get Dyson be the legs. Dyson tried to stretch the ball past the goal line, but was stopped at the 1-yard line.
You can see the whole final drive here:
It also prevented the first-ever Super Bowl overtime. But, what a game. And what a game by Warner. He completed 24 out of 45 passes for a Super Bowl record 414 yards and 2 touchdowns and was named the Most Valuable Player. His 45 pass attempts without an interception was also a Super Bowl record.
Here's to you 1999 Rams and Titans for one of the best Super Bowls ever.