Performing at the height of the Gulf War, the underdog New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-19 to win Super Bowl XXV in front of 73,813 patriotic fans at Tampa Stadium 22 years ago today on January 27, 1991.
With five future members of the Hall of Fame and nine Pro Bowl selections on their 53-man roster, the Bills (13-3) were an overwhelming force on both sides of the ball.
Buffalo’s explosive offense, one that amassed 95 points in two playoff victories over the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders, had bookmakers predicting Saddam Hussein would win a humanitarian award before the Giants (13-3) managed to stop their no-huddle attack.
Beyond the Bills’ dominance on the gridiron, Buffalo had overcome the host Giants 17-13 a mere six weeks earlier in a game that saw Phil Simms shelved indefinitely with a broken foot.
Although talented, Simms’ replacement, Jeff Hostetler, had taken the field in only four meaningful contests as a professional and the Bills’ defense seemed destined to fluster the former West Virginia University standout.
Fortunately for the Giants and their supporters, Hostetler, a 1994 Pro Bowler, was not outmatched and the longstanding backup ultimately completed an impressive 20 of 32 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown.
Complementing Hostetler and maximizing the effectiveness of Ron Erhardt’s play-action calls, running back Otis Anderson, the game’s eventual MVP, carried the ball 21 times and gained 102 yards on the ground.
Nevertheless, despite memorable performances by Hostetler, Anderson and wide receiver Mark Ingram that allowed New York to possess the ball for in excess of 40 minutes, the championship was largely determined by the ingenious game plan devised by defensive coordinator Bill Belichick and the players’ ability to execute it to perfection.
The seesaw affair, one that became the only Super Bowl decided by a single point, concluded when Bills All-Pro kicker Scott Norwood missed a tough 47-yard field goal with four seconds remaining on the clock.
In what amounted to the final time Bill Parcells would coach the Giants, New York’s triumph sparked Buffalo’s four consecutive Super Bowl losses.
Without a turnover committed by either the Giants or Bills, arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever occurred more than two decades past this evening.by