Monday, January 28, 2013

Watching Super Bowl 27 - 20 Years Later

For the 20th anniversary of the Cowboys 1992 Super Bowl appearance in Pasadena in Jan 1993, I wanted to pop in the DVDs - that I have with the expressed written consent of the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys - and view Super Bowl 27 again.  Below is my running diary of the experience.

Pregame show:

Magic Johnson asks the triplets where they look for Super Bowl experience and Emmitt answers that they only have two players with experience, Ray Horton and Charles Haley.  “And everybody knows what talking to Charles is like.”  Big laughter.

Emiitt is wearing one of his trademark vests.  But, man, those triplets look very young.  And Michael, of course, has sunglasses on inside.  And adds that they “cook hamburgers better in Dallas when you are winning”. 

End of interview with Magic also involves Michael pointing out that he wants Emmitt to win the MVP because his contract is up and Troy doesn’t need it because he will always get all of the money. 

NBC have Bob Trumpy and Dick Enberg on the call for Super Bowl 27.  Trumpy says that the Bills will need to slow down Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys will need to slow down Thurman Thomas.  So, some pretty crazy commentary being thrown down here.

Trumpy on waiting for the game to begin for the players: “Even though it is hell, there is nowhere else you would rather be.”

Cornelius Bennett uses his moment on camera in starting lineups to sing some indecipherable song.

Garth Brooks seems to have performed a stirring rendition of the national anthem standing along side a lady who signed the song for America.

And here to perform the coin-flip?  OJ Simpson, of course!   Clear Buffalo bias from the Juice as the Bills win the toss and elected to receive.  The Cowboys are clearly doomed.  Dick Enberg tells us that yesterday in rehearsal, the coin toss went to Buffalo all 5 times.  Who knew that they rehearsed the coin toss with stand-ins?  He tells us the odds of the toss going to Buffalo 6 straight times is 64 to 1.  Didn’t seem likely.

Oddsmakers tell us Dallas will win by 7.  49-year old Jimmy Johnson stalks the sideline as he finishes his 4th year with the Cowboys.

1st Quarter:

Buffalo receives and trots out the “K-Gun”.   Andre Reed catches a cross for 14 yards, and the Bills up-tempo hurry is off and running.  But on 3rd and 3, Russell Maryland chases Kelly out to the left flat where Thomas Everett cleans up for a sack and they force a punt.

Cowboys take over at the 15 after the punt for their first possession.  A pass to Emmitt and a run to Emmitt gets a total of 1 yard, setting up a 3rd and long.  On 3rd and 9, Troy airmails a pass to Irvin and it is a 3 and out.  Mike Saxon to punt, and the Bills get to the punt as Steve Tasker blocks it out of bounds.  Enberg lets out his first “Oh, my!” and the Bills have the first major break of the game.  Tasker blew by #55 Robert Jones and got there, and the Bills get the ball at the Cowboys 16.

The Bills get stuffed by Kenny Gant who is described as having the Shark Dance, and then on 3rd Down Charles Haley destroys Left Tackle Will Wolford and causes a sack and fumble.  But, a very late flag on Larry Brown holding on James Lofton gives the Bills an automatic 1st Down.  Thurman Thomas capitalizes and goes off right tackle for a short touchdown and the Bills strike 1st.  7-0 Bills.

It is time to discuss the last AFC win in the Super Bowl back in 1984 when the Raiders beat the Redskins.  That was also a game where the AFC team blocked a punt.  Hmmmm.

Cowboys 2nd possession starts with Emmitt getting nothing on 1st Down.  A dump down to a “true cowboy”, Jay Novacek who we are told competed in the 1984 Olympic trials in the decathlon.  Enberg is telling us everything about everyone now.   Here is one on Jimmy Johnson: “the son of a super intendent of an ice cream factory.”

Trumpy tries to blame Michael Irvin not lining up correctly on Super Bowl nerves.  Not sure I buy that, but a false start backs the Cowboys up and is made worse when Novacek drops a pass and Cornelius Bennett right in Aikman’s face.  A 3rd and long pass is behind Kelvin Martin on another Buffalo blitz and it seems Aikman is not locked in so far.  Saxon on again to punt and Robert Jones has been replaced by Dixon Edwards on the punt block team.

Bills 3rd possession starts at their 20, and Maryland blows up a run play to Thurman Thomas.  On 2nd Down, Tony Casillas does the same and the defensive line looks very active.  Haley can do whatever he wants against Wolford who is thought of as a fantastic left tackle normally.  3rd and long is a poor throw, but Leon Lett gets flagged for roughing Jim Kelly after the throw.  Enberg tells us Dave Wannstedt calls Lett the best backup tackle in football, but that is a dumb penalty. 

The Bills then hit Andre Reed out at midfield on the next play, but on 1st Down from there, Kelly challenges James Washington again and this time James steps up and picks it off.  Pete Metzelaars slipped and a Cowboys blitz from Gant made Kelly cough it up, and the Cowboys take over at the Bills 47.

But, the Cowboys have 2 more negative plays to start this opportunity and on 3rd and 16.  This time, Aikman steps into a strong pass for 20 yards to Irvin on that Bang 8 across the face of the safety.  Bread and butter.  Emmitt moves the chains again down to the 22 of Buffalo on the lead draw. 

When they went into the 1990 draft, they wanted the linebacker James Francis, so they traded up from 22 to 17, but the Bengals took Francis and the Cowboys settled for Smith.  The best player on their board was Seau that year. 

On the next play, Aikman finds Novacek on a seam route down the numbers and this game is tied at 7.  On the extra point, Tommie Agee just grabs the face mask of a defender and forces a 30 yard extra point, but it is converted.   1:36 left in the 1st Quarter.

The Bills are backed up after a kickoff penalty and on the 1st play of the possession from their 10, Charles Haley again destroys Howard Ballard and sacks Kelly who loses the ball right to Jimmie Jones and the big man falls into the endzone for a defensive score.  Lin Elliott makes it 14-7.  Haley must be considered for MVP so far.

Bills ball again, barely, after the kick return was fumbled, but Buffalo gets it back after Gant strips the ball from the returner, Brad Lamb.  Kenneth Davis with a few useful carries as Thurman Thomas is limping around on the sideline as the quarter ends.

The 21 points is the highest scoring 1st Quarter in Super Bowl history.

2nd Quarter:

The quarter opens with a huge cross to Andre Reed from the slot as Reed runs away from Gant all the way down to the 5-yard line.  He has 3 catches for 74 yards already.  Thomas puts the ball down to the 1 on another counter to RT, then limps off again.  Davis runs into Ken Norton at the goal line and that is a huge play. Levy has to decide what to do on 4th and goal from 1-foot from pay-dirt, and keeps his offense on the field.

The 4th down pass is a rollout right for Kelly and when things get jammed up with Tolbert bringing pressure, he tries for his tight end Metzelaars, but Thomas Everett sits on that and picks it off again in the endzone for the Bills 3rd giveaway already.   11:59 left in the half, and the Cowboys take over at the 20.

Enberg confuses Leon Lett with Godfrey Miles which seems difficult to do, but Miles looks to be injured and is eventually carted off with a knee.  Aikman shows some scrambling ability as he moves the chains out to the 43.   Drive stalls as the Bills aren’t letting Emmitt get loose and Saxon must punt it back to the Bills.

Another linebacker blitz ruins a play as Ken Norton causes a poor pass and leaves Kelly on the field in considerable pain on that bad knee.  And it looked pretty bad on replay as Norton was in mid-air after being cut by a running back and thus crushed Kelly who is helped off.  So, here comes Frank Reich on 3rd and 3, who does a nice job on his 1st play to hit Metzelaars for a 1st down to 40. 

Then, he hits Reed in the seam of a zone for 38 more yards and Reich has started very well.  Kelly is keeping  his helmet on as he is carted off.  Don Beebe is open for a slant but Larry Brown recovers and might have tipped the ball.  Or, Beebe just dropped it. 

Haley has never lifted weights in his life – Trumpy

3rd and 1 for Reich from the 4 yard line and Thomas cannot get there as Haley does it again.  This time, Levy is kicking with Steve Christie and the Bills settle for a FG and it is 14-10.

Enberg continues to elaborate on Novacek’s private life, this time detailing his channel selection in his cabin in Nebraska.  Just 1 channel!  Amazing.

Now, on the final play before the 2 minute warning, Moose gets a big block and Emmitt hits it for 38 yards on the lead draw to the Bills 19.  On the next play, Bang 8 on the other side this time to Irvin for the Touchdown.   This play is better described here by Troy Himself in a previous blog post I have written and Part 2 is here.  It is well worth reading.  The Norv Turner timing-based offense legend grows on this play and the lead grows to 21-10 with 1:54 to go in the half.

So, the Bills take over and try a safe pass to Thurman Thomas on the swing to the right, but as he fights for yards, Thomas is stripped by Lett and the Bills turn the ball over again!  4th Giveaway and Jimmie Jones recovers and now the Cowboys can go for the kill shot with a +4.

It takes one play, and Troy finds Irvin on a deep out to the right sideline.  Irvin attacks the ball against corner James Williams and then twists and falls across the goal-line to put the score to 28-10.  Kelly and Thurman Thomas have been the major reasons why the Bills are getting destroyed. 

Enberg: Jimmy Johnson doesn’t like jokes, but does like Don Rickles.   No idea.

Bills just trying to get to the room, but Kenneth Davis almost fumbled the ball away again.  The Bills decided that they might still find some points before halftime decide to throw a deep pass to Beebe, and Larry Brown gets in front of it for takeaway #5 in the 1st half alone.  Amazing.

Jimmy and his Miami ring story.  Could become the only coach to win a Super Bowl and a national championship – although Paul Brown won the college and NFL titles, too. 

The Cowboys run out the half and take the +5 turnover margin out with a huge 28-10 halftime lead. 

2 Touchdowns in 15 seconds, then 2 Touchdowns in 18 seconds for the Cowboys.


Michael Jackson performs at halftime in an effort to defeat OJ Simpson in “the most notable celebrity involved in Super Bowl 27 who could not be part of Super Bowl 47” contest.

His performance seems to be mostly about standing and letting the Rose Bowl crowd go insane in his honor for what seems to be at least 2 minutes.   Then, we get Billie Jean, Black or White, and the loudest cheers of the day. 

3RD Quarter:

A quick look at those halftime stats show us that Buffalo has more 1st downs and time of possession.  The Cowboys have 28 more yards, but when turnovers are 5-0, all of those other stats are just here for comedy.

Cowboys get the ball first, and it goes to Emmitt for 8 yards and then Emmitt for 12 more.  The 23-year old now has 79 yards rushing today.  On 3rd and 3 from their 46, Aikman hits a wide-open Irvin on a comeback and he runs for a gain of 24 and a big 1st Down to continue to do whatever they want on the 5-step drops with the timing throws.   2 more middle runs moves the ball inside the Bills’ 20.  And Jim Kelly now comes out on crutches and a stylish pair of light blue jeans.  His day is over and that means it will all be up to Frank Reich.  Keep in mind the biggest Super Bowl deficit overcome is the Redskins versus Denver when they were down 10-0 and scored 42 unanswered.

Another quick out to Irvin, and it is now first and goal.   Then, Novacek brings the all to the 2.  On 3rd and goal, Aikman misses his receiver, so Lin Elliott comes on to kick a chip shot and push the lead to 31-10.   A long drive eats up half of the 3rd quarter and extends the lead to 3 touchdowns.

No gainer for Derrick Gainer - Enberg. 

Reich brings the Bills on for their first shot in the 2nd half, and hits his tight ends underneath with Keith McKeller to the 40.  But, their first non-descript drive ends in a punt, but Kelvin Martin shoots up the field with an explosion on the return and heads 30 yards up the field to put the Cowboys in a fantastic spot to the 41.

NBC shows Aikman’s numbers and not only are they near perfect for the game, but with 7 TDs and 0 INTs in the playoffs, they are stealing the show for the month.  Meanwhile, Mark Tuinei is keeping Bruce Smith very quiet on the edge.  3rd and 7 to Novacek moves the chains again as they cross midfield.    

Emmitt has an inside run that gets him to 100 yards, something only Barry Foster accomplished against the Bills in all of 1992.  Enberg points out Emmitt’s family runs a football card store that he owns, where you can buy an Emmitt for $50 and a Trumpy for 38 cents.

The Cowboys faced a 4th and 4 and decided to go for it, but Aikman’s perfect game runs out of luck as Marcvus Patton bats down the pass and the Bills actually get a stop.

One thing that should be said is that the Cowboys run almost the same 21 personnel group (2 RB, 1 TE, and 2 WR) almost the entire game, save for 3rd Down when they bring in K-Mart for Moose and switch to 11 (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR).  The game is far more strategically complex 20 years later.

Bills take over at their 38 with 2:10 left in a fast moving 3rd Quarter.  Andre Reed with another crossing reception for a 1st down, but is nailed hard by Everett and is hobbled.   On 3rd and 13, Reich looked like he had crossed the line of scrimmage before he threw a long, high throw to Beebe for a wide-open touchdown, but no flag was thrown.  So, the Bills appeared to get away with a clear violation, but with no replay, Buffalo cuts the lead to 31-17.

4th Quarter:

Cowboys get the ball back and Aikman shows exceptional speed running up the middle for 21 yards.  Very impressive wheels, there.  On the very next play, Emmitt cut back and Bruce Smith stripped the ball into the backfield, where Aikman is paying attention and dived on the ball.  That could have been a huge moment for the Bills.  But, it didn’t happen, and Dallas almost converted a 3rd and 19 with a dump off to Emmitt Smith in the flat, and Emmitt made it interesting., but just short at the Buffalo 48.  The punt team is sent on and the punt is briefly fumbled but retained by the Bills.

The Bills continue to look discombobulated offensively as almost no passes have gone to James Lofton.  The 3rd Down pass does head to Lofton, but the throw isn’t close against Issac Holt.  3 and out and the Bills punt. 

Emmitt for 12 into Bills’ territory as the offensive line is starting to destroy Buffalo.  The next play is a perfect play action fake and then Alvin Harper is found galloping down the right sideline for a long, 45-yard touchdown that Harper then dunks on the goal-post.  Harper, of course, had a long, crucial TD last week in San Francisco, and Aikman has 4 touchdowns.

Dallas 38, Buffalo 17 – 10:04 to play.

The Bills have one play destroyed by Jimmie Jones, but then Reich on the next play is looking inside to Lofton and Thomas Everett jumps the play for an easy interception run back inside the Buffalo 10.  Jerry Jones is jumping up and down on the sideline as he celebrates turnover #6. 

NBC shows a graphic that demonstrates Aikman is close to a 5 TD day which only Joe Montana has had in a Super Bowl (24), but it will not happen as Emmitt Smith is given the ball on 3rd and goal and tornado-spins his way into the endzone for yet another TD with an extra point that gets it to 45-17.

It appears rather clear that the NFC is about to win its 9th straight Super Bowl now. 

Just as the tv shows new Bears coach Dave Wannstedt wrapping up his job in Dallas, the Cowboys are gifted yet another TD as Reich basically just flips the ball into the air on a mis-handled shotgun snap and to Ken Norton, who runs it in for an easy score making another pair of TDs within 41 seconds.  It is now 52-17 with 7 minutes to go on the Bills 7th turnover. 

Norton now has a goal-line stand, a knocked out Jim Kelly, and a touchdown to round out his day.  Certainly, well done. 

We also have a record for points in a Super Bowl game with 69 combined, and the Cowboys are 3 short of the 49ers record of 55 in a game. 

On the next drive, it happens again, as Steve Tasker is hit and stripped by Leon Lett and yet another fumble and loss of possession to the Cowboys.  Just ridiculous.

On comes Steve Beuerlein for Dallas, who still has half of a quarter to kill.  The Bills 8th turnover ties them with Denver’s 8 in Super Bowl 12 and passes the Baltimore 7 in Super Bowl 5 for most all-time.  All 3 performances are against Dallas.  Somehow, the Colts won Super Bowl 5. 

Gainer fumbled the ball back as a gesture of charity, and the Cowboys commit their first giveaway. 

The next Bills drive is spent mostly focusing on Jerry Jones, his smiles, and his college football pictures at 1964 at Arkansas.

But, that conversation is broken up for one of the more famous plays of a 5-touchdown game, as Leon Lett picks up a fumble and runs the ball back only to start celebrating at the 5 yard line and is caught from behind by Don Beebe.  The ball is knocked back through the endzone and the ball is ruled a touchback.   The play has become legendary, but it had nothing to do with the game whatsoever really. 

The game really becomes about running down the clock from this point, but Buffalo keeps throwing the ball around so the announcers spend time pondering how damaging losing 3 straight Super Bowls might be. 

Jimmy is doused with Gatorade and the hair is hardly bothered.  The play was executed by Irvin hugging him as a distraction before the Gatorade arrived from behind.  Then, Emmitt is allowed to mess up his hair and hilarity ensues.

Jerry Jones arrives with a comb and Trumpy tells us that the league envies their work relationship where there is no go-between with coach and owner.  If they only knew the future.

Reich hits Lofton in the endzone with a pass that is flat-out dropped.  It has been a very forgettable day for Lofton.  Lett gets in for a final sack and the game clock expires.

The Cowboys win Super Bowl 27: 52-17.

Enberg wonders if the Cowboys are a dynasty to be in the 1990s after this. 


The MVP goes to Aikman, and although I thought Charles Haley had more to do with the Cowboys taking a lead they were never going to lose, I happily concede that Aikman was so good that with 4 Touchdowns, you could not ignore him.  He did a lot of heavy lifting on 3rd Downs and really impressed.

Maybe the most revealing and odd moments of the post game as Paul Tagliabue presents the Vince Lombardi trophy to Jerry and Jimmy.  As Costas takes over the interview, he says that Jerry signs the checks so he should go first.  Jerry agrees, “I will go first.”

As Costas interviews Jerry and Jimmy, both of them place their hands on the trophy, and neither will take their hands off.  4 hands remain on the trophy for almost 5 minutes straight with Costas in the middle.  It almost looked like they might wrestle for it. 

It was a fantastically dominating performance where the Cowboys flexed their considerable muscle.  And it was the first of what would be a magical 4 year run.

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