Each weekday until Super Bowl Sunday, Hulu and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz are counting down the 10 best Super Bowl games in history with the help of NFL Films. Check our Spotlight page every day to see the latest pick. Today’s selection: the 1990 season’s showdown between the Giants and the Bills.
Or, simply, “Wide Right.” The Bills made four straight Super Bowls, but this first one was their best chance to actually win a championship. Buffalo’s K-Gun, led by Jim Kelly, was the league’s best offense. The Giants had the league’s best defense, led by the greatest pass rusher in NFL history, Lawrence Taylor. They also had a backup quarterback, Jeff Hostetler. Starter Phil Simms had broken his foot in Week 15 — ironically, in a regular-season meeting against New York’s eventual Super Bowl opponents.
The Bills had won the first game 17-13, and this Super Bowl rematch was just as close. The Giants used a run-first game plan to keep the Bills offense off the field, and set a Super Bowl record for time of possession, over 40 minutes. On defense, coordinator Bill Belichick used extra defensive backs to slow down Kelly and the K-Gun. A back-and-forth-game ended up at 20-19 halfway through the fourth quarter.
For their final drive, the Bills took the ball on their own 10-yard line. They had 2:16 left and just one timeout. But a couple scrambles, a couple passes, and a couple of big Thurman Thomas draw plays put the Bills at the Giants 29 with eight seconds left. The game came down to Bills kicker Scott Norwood and a 47-yard field goal which didn’t make it through the uprights. Other Super Bowls have seen a field goal on the final play which meant the difference between winning and overtime, but Super Bowl XXV is the only time that one specific play really meant the difference between a championship and a bitter defeat. Final score: New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19
Follow Aaron Schatz on Twitter @FO_ASchatz.