Rams stop Titans at 1-yard line

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2000

The Associated Press

ATLANTA — The St. Louis Rams rediscovered their offensive firepower just in time, and the Tennessee Titans came up just 1 yard short.

Kurt Warner’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce with 1 minute, 54 seconds left gave the Rams their first Super Bowl win Sunday, 23-16.

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The TD capped an improbable turnaround for St. Louis, which was 3-13 a year ago and 13-3 this season as they scored 526 points, third best in NFL history.

But Steve McNair and Eddie George almost led Tennessee to another miracle finish, rallying them from a 16-0 deficit.

On the game’s final play with six seconds left, McNair’s pass was caught by Kevin Dyson at the Rams 5. He scrambled for the end zone only to be stopped just short by Mike Jones, as Dyson’s outstretched arm held the ball toward the goal line in vain.

”I always believed in myself, and had a whole bunch of people who believed in me,” said Warner, the Super Bowl MVP who did a victory lap around the Georgia Dome. ”We’re the world champions! How about the Rams!”

Warner, a former Arena League and NFL Europe quarterback, finished 24-of-45 for 414 yards and two touchdowns.

The Rams dominated for much of the game but had to settle for three field goals to take a 9-0 lead before finally scoring a touchdown.

St. Louis seemed to have put the game away when Warner threw a 9-yard pass to Torry Holt with 3:59 left in the third quarter to take a 16-0 lead.

But suddenly the Titans’ offense came to life and the St. Louis defense began to wear down behind the battering of George and short passes from McNair.

Tennessee scored on its next two possessions, both on 1-yard runs by George to make it 16-13 with 7:21 left. It would have been 16-14, but the Titans chose to go for two points on their first TD and failed.

Al Del Greco’s 43-yard field goal tied it with 2:12 left. Then the Rams’ quick strike for a touchdown set up one of the most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history.

The Titans, however, just didn’t have enough at the very end.

”We’ve been doing this off and on during the year. We knew we had an opportunity to go on in and score,” McNair said of the game’s final play on Dyson’s near-touchdown lunge. ”We said on the sideline when they scored that the only fault they did was scoring too quick. We fell just short.”