Super Bowl XXI: Giants follow Simms to Big Blue Heaven!

A JAN. 25, 1987 FILE PHOTO

ERIC RISBERG/AP

Bill Parcells is triumphantly carried off field after Super Bowl win as Giants are crowned World Champs.

The lingering question after Super Bowl XXI was not how did Phil Simms complete 22 of 25 passes but how in the heck did he end up with three incompletions. Simms turned in the greatest Super Bowl quarterback performance of all time with a record 88% completion percentage, 268 yards and three touchdowns as the Giants crushed the Broncos, 39-20, to win their first title in 30 years, turning the Rose Bowl into Big Blue heaven for their long-suffering fans.

The pregame buildup focused on how Broncos star quarterback John Elway would stack up against the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, the best defense in the NFL. For one quarter, it looked like Super Bowl XXI would be a shootout between Simms and Elway. The QBs combined to go 12-for-12 in the quarter as the Broncos took a 10-7 lead on a Giant defense that had not allowed a touchdown in the playoffs. Elway, who got Denver to Pasadena thanks to The Drive against the Browns in the AFC title game, continued to have the hot hand in the second, driving the Broncos to the Giants’ 1-yard line. That’s where the vaunted Giants ‘D’ made its stand. Lawrence Taylor, the NFL’s MVP who had been quiet to that point, stuffed Elway on first down. Harry Carson then stopped Gerald Willhite for no gain before Carl Banks dropped Sammy Winder for a four-yard loss on a pitchout. Rich Karlis then missed the easy field goal. The next time the Broncos had the ball, George Martin sacked Elway in the end zone for a safety after an apparent 25-yard Elway completion on the previous play was ruled incomplete. The Broncos followed that up with another missed field goal, going into halftime with a 10-9 lead but feeling anything but Super.

The Giants’ season had plenty of pivotal and memorable plays such as Simms’ fourth-and-17 pass to Bobby Johnson and Mark Bavaro dragging half of the 49ers’ team down the field on Monday Night Football. The Giants added another one four plays into the second half. On fourth-and-1 from the Giant 46, backup quarterback Jeff Rutledge snuck into the punt formation unnoticed. After surveying the field, Rutledge moved under center, called his own number and barreled ahead for two yards. Simms then completed four straight passes, including a 13-yard TD strike to Bavaro, and the Giants had the lead for good.

The Giant highlights kept rolling Joe Morris carrying the load on the next TD drive; Phil McConkey’s 44-yard grab to set up another TD, and his scoring grab that bounced off Bavaro’s hands.

The Giants had beaten the Broncos, 19-16, in November at the Meadowlands. But thanks to the confident Simms, they made this rout look easy. With Denver geared up to stop Morris, Simms had a field day with the play-action pass. He threw on nine of the Giants’ first 11 first-down plays and completed all nine. He was barely touched all game behind The Suburbanites, the blue-collar line led by center Bart Oates and future crude car salesman Brad Benson. Banks made 10 solo tackles, including four for losses, to lead the defense.

The only suspense that remained was how Carson would be able to start the then-new tradition of the Gatorade shower on Bill Parcells. The All-Pro linebacker donned a yellow security jacket, and made his move to soak Parcells for the 17th time that season. Simms earned a Gatorade dump, too, perhaps the only way to cool him off that day.

January 25, 1987 turns out to be a pretty good day in the life of Phil Simms.

Reed Saxon/AP

January 25, 1987 turns out to be a pretty good day in the life of Phil Simms.


Daily News – Sports

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