Happy Super Bowl Sunday! In anticipation of the biggest event on the sports-viewing calendar, LARams.net concludes the “Weirdest Super Bowl” series with clearly the most bizarre of all ‘Bowl games. The remainder of the top five included:
And today, the oddest of the odd.
(Cue earnest ESPN’s “30 for 30” promo voice.) “What if I told you that, in a Super Bowl when 61 points were scored, two whole quarters went by with both teams shut out…?
“That possibly the greatest clutch kicker of all-time went oh-for-two on field goal attempts in one half, yet his team won the game…?
“That two individuals – not players, coaches or referees – would change the rules of live sports broadcasting forever…?”
“Up next on LARams.net, the weirdest Super Bowl of All-Time, namely…”
Super Bowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Who remembers this one? I mean, *really* remembers? ‘Cause on the surface of it, this one doesn’t seem so bizarre.
But remember: This was in the days when the Patriots had only one title to their name, and they’d missed the playoffs the previous year; The Panthers had gone 1-15 two years before.
Once the game started, defense ruled. Until it didn’t. Through 27 minutes, the score showed naughts, and a halftime score of 0-0 or 3-0 seemed inevitable – especially after a little 26-yard field goal was blocked by Shane Burton in the second quarter for Adam Vinatieri’s second miss in as many attempts.
Carolina QB Jake Delhomme had started the game 1-of-9, but no matter: Brady had already topped 150 yards passing by the 10-minute mark in the second quarter and, well, 0-0 was the score.
And then suddenly … something. The Patriots’ Mike Vrabel forced a fumble out of Delhomme, and New England finally turned a short field into a touchdown. In response, a Carolina offense that had managed *minus-8* yards of offense in 27 minutes went on a flawless 95-yard drive to tie in.
And then, Brady marched his Patriots 78 yards in a minute or so of game time for another TD; where in Lombardi’s name was all this offense in the first 25 minutes?
And then, Bill Belichick oddly called for a squib on the kickoff, shaving six seconds off the 18 remaining but handing the Panthers a start from the 50-yard line. Carolina would add another three on a field goal.
Coming out of halftime, those expecting more fireworks were certainly disappointed because low-scoring first-half tactics were back. Sure enough, both defenses frustrated their opposition time and again with stops.
And then. Antowain Smith punched it in for New England to start the fourth quarter, and the pinball machine was turned back on. An insane 37 points – equal to or more than the scoring in 11 previous Super Bowls, including the Patriots’ upset of the St. Louis Rams two years before – would be scored in the fourth quarter.
In short (because you really should check this one out for yourself), the breathtaking action came fast and furious in that final stanza. Reggie Howard picked off a pass in the end zone, to give Brady more interceptions thrown than Delhomme. For the Panthers, Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed briefly became the 21st-century’s Swann and Stallworth; Muhammed’s 85-yarder remains the longest TD pass in Super Bowl history.
On the other side, Vrabel – who easily could have been named co-MVP at least, by the way – outscored all other Patriots not named Antowain in the second half with a big-guy TD reception. (Eat your heart out, Refrigerator Perry…)
And then. Who but Ricky Proehl, the guy who’d caught the only touchdown pass for the Rams in their losing bid to the Patriots in 2002, would tie the game up for the Panthers with just over a minute remaining?
And then! A muffed kickoff. One mistake in one aspect of the game cost the Panthers a chance at one more possession; a nearly flawless performance (by both sides, really) was ruined in seconds. By the time Vinatieri again capped a New England Super Bowl win, the lead had flipped or tied four more times in the game’s final seven minutes.
So how about Super Bowl XXXVIII, the game that had some of everything? Offensive explosions *and* stalwart defense; breakthrough runs and long bombs; futility and redemption from placekickers; and edge-of-the-seat football throughout.
We can only hope today’s Super Bowl is this exciting. Or bizarre.
And hey, this doesn’t even include the oddest single incident in Super Bowl halftime history…
– written by Os Davis