&. Super Bowl XXXIV, 2000: St. Louis 23—Tennessee 16
Anticipating the wholesale transition of the NFL into a pass-first league, the Rams “Greatest Show On Turf” would bring the franchise their first championship following a stiff challenge from a diabolically tough Tennessee team.
Competitiveness: 10 out of 10. Many believed the high flying Rams would race past the Titans, but Kurt Warner and company could manage only three first half field goals against Tennessee’s rugged defense. The Rams would extend the lead to 16-0 before the Titans stormed back to tie the game late. The final two minutes were a frenzy of crucial plays with Warner hitting Isaac Bruce on a go-ahead bomb, and the Titans responding with an epic drive that fell one yard short of the tying touchdown on the game’s final play.
Star Power: 9 out of 10. Warner, Bruce, Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk formed the basis of the Rams historic offense. Tackles Orlando Pace of the Rams and Bruce Matthews of the Titans are all-time greats and emotional Rams coach Dick Vermeil will likely make the Hall Of Fame. Titans quarterback Steve McNair was one of the underappreciated stars of his era.
Intrigue/Controversy: 9 out of 10. The unlikely championship pairing of Warner and Vermeil remains one of the NFL’s great, barely believable stories. Vermeil, back coaching after a long stint as a broadcaster, had languished in his first two seasons with the Rams. Warner was a lowly regarded backup when the team’s planned starter Trent Green went down with a season-ending knee injury late in the pre-season. They were thought of as perhaps the league’s worst team when the season began, and ended up not only winning a championship but partially revolutionizing the sport.
Aftermath: 8 out of 10. Vermeil would retire after the game, only to later return as coach of the Chiefs. Warner would lead the Rams back to the Super Bowl the following year only to be shocked by the underdog Patriots. He would later lead the Arizona Cardinals to within a heartbeat of their first championship.
Aggregate Score: 36 out of 40.
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