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Mile High at Sea Level : Fourth Time Is the Charm for Broncos, Who Dethrone Packers

Pro football: Davis named most valuable player after gaining 157 yards and scoring three touchdowns for Denver.

January 26, 1998|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The old dude finally did it.

John Elway and the Denver Broncos won a Super Bowl for themselves and the AFC by beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24 Sunday in one of the most exciting games ever.

It gave the 37-year-old Elway his first win in four tries and the AFC its first in 14.

Sure, he had help.

He got it from MVP Terrell Davis, who gained 157 yards in 30 carries and scored on three 1-yard runs, including the winner with 1:45 left in the game. He did it despite a migraine that caused him to miss most of the second quarter.

For Elway, carried off the field by his teammates, this was vindication in perhaps his last shot at a title. He rode off as the oldest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.

"For all the Broncos fans who never had this feeling, we finally got it done," Elway said.

"You wonder if you're going to win or if you're going to run out of years."

The victory kept Denver from becoming the first team ever to lose five -- it lost one in 1978, before Elway arrived.

The win meant vindication for the AFC, which hadn't won since the Raiders, then in Los Angeles, beat Washington 38-9 in 1984, Elway's first season.

And finally, it was the first win for the quarterback class of 1983 that included Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

The final chance for the defending champion Packers ended when John Mobley knocked down Brett Favre's pass from the Denver 31 with 28 seconds left. That made the two-touchdown underdog Broncos the second wild-card team to win the Super Bowl.

"They disrespected us all week," Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "Everybody direspected us. They never faced a running game like ours. They never faced a quarterback like ours. They never faced a coach who puts in a game plan like Mike Shanahan."

The Packers hurt themselves with three critical penalties late in the game. They included a holding call and a false start on rookie left tackle Ross Verba that bottled Green Bay deep, and a face mask on Darius Holland that gave the Broncos 15 key yards on their game-winning 49-yard drive.

But nonetheless, it was Elway's game.

"In kind of a strange way -- John Elway, I've always enjoyed him," Packers coach Mike Holmgren said. "I just wished he hadn't done it against me."

Elway scrambled 8 yards to set up a touchdown, and scored on a 1-yard run -- a lot like the young Elway. He finished 12-of-22 for 122 yards and threw one end-zone interception.

If this wasn't the best Super Bowl ever, it was close to it, despite a lot of sloppiness -- 15 penalties and five turnovers by the two teams. Elway's mistake came at the Green Bay 22 when the Broncos had a chance to go ahead by more than a touchdown late in the third quarter.

But otherwise, it was two heavyweights going punch for punch -- Favre threw for three TDs, two to Antonio Freeman, and Davis ran for three.

Each team scored a touchdown on its first possession, the first time that's ever happened in a Super Bowl.

Then Denver jumped to a 17-7 lead before a 17-play, 95-yard drive by the Packers, second longest in Super Bowl history. That cut it to 17-14 at halftime and Green Bay seemed to have momentum.

But Elway engineered a 92-yard drive of his own to give the Broncos a 24-17 lead. Then, after Elway threw the interception, the Packers went 85 yards in just four plays to tie it.

The third quarter did not start well for Denver.

Davis fumbled on his first carry of the second half, and Brian Williams recovered at the Denver 26.

That led to Ryan Longwell's 27-yard field goal that tied it at 17. An offside penalty on a successful 39-yard kick had given the Packers a second chance at a TD, but they couldn't take advantage.

Late in the third quarter, the Broncos drove 92 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown on Davis' 1-yard run. Elway combined with Ed McCaffrey on a 36-yard play and helped set up the score with an 8-yard scramble that ended when he was sandwiched by tacklers and spun around in the air at the Green Bay 4.

Then came a bizarre sequence.

Freeman fumbled the kickoff and Denver's Tim McKyer recovered at the Green Bay 22. But on the next play, Elway's pass into the end zone was intercepted by Eugene Robinson and returned to his own 15.

The Packers then tied it two minutes later on Favre's 13-yard pass to Freeman at the end of another long drive -- 85 yards on four plays, helped by a 25-yard pass interference call on Gordon.

Green Bay struck first, just 4:02 into the game, on a 22-yard pass from Favre to Freeman. Freeman split the Denver secondary, beating safety Steve Atwater after Gordon blitzed.

But the key play of the 76-yard, seven-play drive was the second, when Favre managed to throw the ball away after Neil Smith and Maa Tanuvasa seemed to have him trapped for a sack.

Denver came right back, going 58 yards on 10 plays.

The key was a defensive holding call on Green Bay's Doug Evans as Elway threw an incomplete pass on third-and-10 from the Packers 46.

On the next play, Davis went 27 yards around left end to the 14. Elway scrambled to the 2, and then Davis went in from the 1 two plays later to tie it at 7.

Soon after, Tyrone Braxton intercepted Favre, setting up a 45-yard, eight-play drive capped by Elway's 1-yard rollout into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.

Less than three minutes later it was 17-7 on Jason Elam's 51-yard field goal. It was set up when Atwater blitzed Favre, hit him and forced a fumble that Smith recovered at the Green Bay 33.

Then the Packers went 95 yards in 17 plays, capped by Favre's 6-yard TD pass to Mark Chmura on a third down in the corner of the end zone with 12 seconds left in the half.

Denver joined the Oakland Raiders, who won the 1981 Super Bowl, as the only wild cards to win.

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