Back to Back and a Ride Into the Sunset.
The Broncos brought their 14-2 regular season record to South Beach on Jan 31, 1999 to defend their Super Bowl title against the also 14-2 Atlanta Falcons. The game had lots of sub-plots, not the least of which was Atlanta coach Dan Reeves looking for his first Super Bowl win after three losses as head coach of the Broncos.
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The Falcons had Jamal Anderson who had torn up the League to the tune of 1,850 yards and gave us the ‘dirty bird’ dance that though short-lived was a staple of the Falcons team. They also had a pair of thousand-yard wideouts in Tony Martin and Terance Mathis. Defensively, they boasted three All-Pro players in linebacker Jessie Tuggle and cornerbacks Eugene Robinson and Ray Buchanan.
The Broncos were led by the usual suspects, barring the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the ’97 playoffs which we are still not over (damn you, Michael Dean Perry), they legitimately could have been playing for their third straight Championship.
John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith on offense. Bill Romanowski, Steve Atwater and Trevor Pryce on defense. It was basically the same team and for the first time, the Broncos were the favorite.
They didn’t disappoint.
This particular play came after Atlanta drove but stalled well within Morton Andersen’s field goal range. Andersen’s try sailed wide right from 26 and Denver took over on the Atlanta 20. On the very next play, Elway hit Smith on a double-move and a step behind Robinson. The pass was about 40 yards and Smith accelerated for the touchdown. The two-play sequence was a huge swing, taking Denver from the possibility of a 10-6 lead with momentum swinging to the Falcons and turned it into a 17-3 Denver lead that would prove too much for the Falcons.
John Elway famously retired after garnering MVP honors for the game, riding off into the sunset of one of the most prolific careers in NFL QB history.