Well, well, well, how time flies. Thirty years ago today, on January 27th, 1991, the greatest Super Bowl ever played took place at the same site of this year’s big game, although it was then known simply as ‘Tampa Stadium’. The New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills by the score of 20-19 when Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal in the final seconds. To be sure, there have been plenty of other Super Bowls that it could be argued were more exciting than that particular game, but any time the ‘wrong’ team wins — in other words, the team that won simply because the other team choked at the end, etc (this is one reason why I have little interest in college football), that takes some of the luster off the game, in my opinion. Super Bowls that fall into this category include both of San Francisco’s wins over Cincinnati, in 1982 and ‘89 and New England’s victories over Seattle, when the Pats won only because the Seahawks’ coaching staff decided that they wanted Russell Wilson to be the game’s MVP, rather than Marshawn Lynch, and against Atlanta. Anytime a team has a 28-3 lead in a Super Bowl, and they lose, that’s a classic, classic choke job all the way around. Do you realize that even if the Falcons had simply run the ball up the middle on every single play after they built that lead, they would almost certainly have won? Yeah, if I were Arthur Blank, I’d have fired the entire coaching staff before the flight home landed.
The reason I bring up the Giants-Bills Super Bowl is not that both teams had good quarterbacks (although Phil Simms didn’t play in that game), nor is it because they had great running backs, although 34-year-old Ottis Anderson, who was named the game’s MVP, was past his prime by then. And of course, both teams had great defenses, because as everyone knows, or should know, your favorite team will very seldom make it to the big dance without a stout defense. The reason Super Bowl XXV holds a special significance for me, thirty years to the day after it was played, is because the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants of 1990 vintage both had offensive lines that were absolutely dominant. Indeed, New York’s offensive line is the main reason why they were able to control the ball and held a nearly 2:1 advantage in time of possession over the Bills, leaving Buffalo’s defensive players standing with their hands on their hips, sucking wind after many of the Giants’ plays.
Conversely, the Green Bay Packers’ injury-riddled, patchwork front wall is the main reason why they lost the NFC Championship game to Tampa Bay, and couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone when the game was on the line. To be sure, the Dolphins have made some great acquisitions on their offensive line recently; I’m not nearly as down on their left tackle and left guard, Austin Jackson, and Ereck Flowers, as some other folks are. Did anyone notice that most of Miami’s big runs last season were behind those two guys? It’s the three other spots on the Dolphins’ offensive line are yet to be determined. Just about everyone knows that Miami needs a center, as well as either a right guard or right tackle, depending on where the coaching staff believes Robert Hunt should play. So the Dolphins need at least two more starters on their OL unless they think 2019 third-round pick Michael Deiter can play center, as some have rumored. With another draft loaded with high picks and the possibility of trading down to accumulate even more, look for Miami’s offensive line to again be a focal point of the team’s offseason strategy, although probably not as much as it was last year.