NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXV to Tampa during a May 20, 1987 meeting. This was the second time that Tampa hosted the game; the city previously hosted Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984.
The Bills and the Giants entered the game using contrasting styles: While the Bills led the league in total points scored (428), the Giants led the league in fewest points allowed (211).
New York Giants
Main article: 1990 New York Giants season
The 1990 New York Giants were built to head coach Bill Parcells’ specifications of “power football”: a powerful defense and an offense that sustained extremely long drives. The Giants’ defense ranked second in the league in fewest total yards allowed (4,392) and first in fewest points allowed, and boasted three Pro Bowl selections: defensive tackle Erik Howard, and linebackers Pepper Johnson and Lawrence Taylor. The secondary was led by defensive back Everson Walls, an offseason acquisition from the Dallas Cowboys, who recorded 6 interceptions. The Giants’ offense was unspectacular, ranking just 17th in the league in yards gained and 13th in points scored. But they wore down opposing teams’ defenses with extremely long drives, thus keeping their opponents’ offense on the sidelines and preventing them from scoring. More importantly, the Giants set an NFL record by losing only 14 turnovers in a 16-game regular season. A big reason for the team’s offensive success was the blocking of linemen Bart Oates and William Roberts, the only Pro Bowlers on the offense. Kick returner Dave Meggett led the NFL in punt return yards (467), while also gaining 492 yards on kickoff returns, rushing for 164 yards, and catching 39 passes for 410 yards.
New York began the regular season by winning their first 10 games, and then went into a tailspin and lost three of their next four. One week after losing to the division rival Philadelphia Eagles, 3113, the 101 Giants were defeated on Monday Night Football in a 73 defensive battle with the 101 San Francisco 49ers, who had won the previous two Super Bowls and ultimately finished the regular season with an NFL best 142 record. Then, in their 1713 loss to the Bills, New York suffered a major setback when starting quarterback Phil Simms went down for the season with a broken bone in his foot.
Simms’ replacement, Jeff Hostetler, had started only two games in his seven years as a backup with the Giants. However, Hostetler displayed fine passing and scrambling ability in his limited playing time during the season, and threw only one interception and committed no fumbles. With Hostetler at the helm, the Giants responded by winning their final two games to finish the regular season 133, good enough to win the NFC East and earn the second seed in the NFC playoffs.
Main article: 1990 Buffalo Bills season
The Bills had a very talented team with 9 Pro Bowl selections on their roster. Their defense was led by defensive end Bruce Smith, who recorded 19 sacks and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. Behind him, 3 of the Bills starting linebackers, Darryl Talley, Shane Conlan, and Cornelius Bennett, were selected to the Pro Bowl. And on special teams, Pro Bowler Steve Tasker was a major threat, forcing fumbles, delivering jarring tackles, and blocking kicks.
But as good as their defense was, it was the Bills’ flashy, high-powered offense that gained the most attention. Unlike the Giants, the Bills routinely used the no-huddle offense to storm down the field and score points very quickly. Instead of going into a huddle after each play, quarterback Jim Kelly would immediately send his offense back to the line of scrimmage and call the play there after reading the defense. This strategy prevented opposing defenses from properly reading the Bills formation, making substitutions, or even catching their breath.
The Bills’ no-huddle K-Gun offense worked well enough for Kelly to finish the regular season as the top rated quarterback in the NFL (101.2), throwing for 2,829 yards, 24 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions. One reason for his success was that he had 2 outstanding wide receivers: Andre Reed, who made his specialty going across the middle on slants and crossing routes, recorded 71 receptions, 945 yards, and 8 touchdowns, and future hall of famer James Lofton, who was the deep threat with 35 receptions for 712 yards (a 20.3 yards per catch average). Tight end Keith McKeller contributed 34 receptions for 464 yards and 5 touchdowns. Pro Bowl running back Thurman Thomas had 1,297 rushing yards, caught 49 passes for 532 yards, and scored 13 touchdowns. Thomas led the NFL in yards from scrimmage. A key to the Bills’ prolific offense was the blocking of its superb offensive line, led by All-Pro center Kent Hull and Pro Bowl guard Will Wolford.
Even though Kelly missed the last 2 games of the season with a knee injury, suffered in the same game in which the Giants lost Simms, the Bills finished with a 133 regular season record.
See also: NFL playoffs, 1990-91
The Giants began their championship postseason run by easily eliminating the Chicago Bears, 313. In leading the Giants’ “power football” offense, Hostetler threw only 17 passes, but two went for touchdowns and he committed no turnovers. He also directed a rushing attack that gained 194 yards, including 43 (and a touchdown) from Hostetler himself. But New York lost another key player for the season when rookie running back Rodney Hampton, the team’s second leading rusher during the regular season with 455 yards, suffered a broken leg.
The following Sunday, the Giants upset the San Francisco 49ers, 1513, in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers, an NFL-best 142 in the regular season and winners of the last two Super Bowls, were 6 point favorites at kickoff. Their outstanding defense was led by future Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott and linebacker Charles Haley, who led the NFC in sacks. San Francisco’s offense was considered the best in the NFC, led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and wide receiver Jerry Rice. However, with the exception of a 61-yard touchdown pass from Montana to wide receiver John Taylor, the Giants contained the 49ers’ offense extremely well. A sack by Giants’ defensive end Leonard Marshall early in the fourth quarter knocked Montana out of the game. Despite their great defensive effort, the Giants still trailed 13-9 late in the fourth quarter, but a 30-yard run from linebacker Gary Reasons on a fake punt set up kicker Matt Bahr’s fourth field goal, cutting their deficit to 13-12. The 49ers (now led by Steve Young) tried to run out the clock on their ensuing possession, but San Francisco running back Roger Craig had the ball dislodged by nosetackle Eric Howard, and Lawrence Taylor recovered the fumble in mid-air with 2:36 remaining. Five plays later, Bahr kicked his 5th field goal, a 41-yarder, as time expired to give New York the win.
As for the Bills, Jim Kelly returned from his injury to lead Buffalo to a 4434 playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Bills jumped to an early 203 lead, but Miami quarterback Dan Marino rallied his team back and cut Buffalo’s lead to 30-27 going into the fourth quarter. However, Buffalo scored a touchdown on their first drive of the period with a five-yard run by Thurman Thomas. Miami then lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, allowing the Bills to put the game away with Kelly’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Andre Reed. Kelly finished the game with 336 passing yards, three touchdowns, and 37 rushing yards. Reed was also a big factor, recording 123 receiving yards and a pair of touchdown catches. Lofton caught 7 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Thomas led the Bills ground attack with 32 carries for 117 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, while also catching 3 passes for 38 yards.
Buffalo then crushed the Los Angeles Raiders 513, the most lopsided score in AFC Championship Game history. The Bills’ defense dominated the Raiders’ offense, which was without running back Bo Jackson, who suffered a career-ending injury against the Cincinnati Bengals the week before, limiting them to an early field goal and intercepting five passes from quarterback Jay Schroeder. Meanwhile, the Bills’ offense set an NFL playoff record with 41 points in the first half, putting the game out of reach by halftime. Kelly was 17 of 23 for 300 yards passing, and two touchdowns to James Lofton. Thomas had 138 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving, and his backup, Kenneth Davis, tied a playoff record with three touchdowns.
Super Bowl pregame news
The Bills were heavily favored to win Super Bowl XXV. Most experts expected that the Giants defense would not be able to contain the Bills’ turbo-charged, no-huddle offense, which had scored 95 points in 2 playoff games. Many also questioned how effective the Giants’ offense would be after failing to score a single touchdown in the NFC Championship Game. Also, in week 15 of the regular season, the two teams met at Giants Stadium where the Bills defeated the Giants 1713.
Due to threats of terrorism associated with the Gulf War, extra security measures were put in place at Tampa Stadium, including the positioning of FBI sharpshooters at the upper levels of the stadium.
For the first time, each player wore a Super Bowl logo patch on his jersey. This would not become a regular practice in Super Bowls until Super Bowl XXXI. The Super Bowl XXV logo was painted at midfield and the NFL logo was placed at each of the two 35-yard lines. For the past Super Bowl games since Super Bowl VI, the NFL logo was painted on the 50-yard line.
Television and entertainment
The game was broadcast in the United States by ABC with play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and color commentators Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf. Brent Musburger hosted all the events with the help of then-ABC Sports analysts Lynn Swann and Dick Vermeil, Musburger’s regular color commentator on ABC’s college football telecasts. Also sponsors Coca-Cola and Diet Pepsi had to withdraw planned contest promotions or ads due to the Gulf War situation. The game was broadcast in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 and in Canada on CTV. Because of the Gulf War situation, this marked the first time the Super Bowl would be broadcast in most countries around the world. Outside of North America and England, this Super Bowl was broadcast for the first time in such countries as Mexico (Canal de las Estrellas), Australia, Russia, and most other countries.
Singer Whitney Houston’s rendition of the national anthem during Super Bowl XXV, backed by the Florida Orchestra, was later released as a single, where it reached number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the only artist to turn the national anthem into a hit single. The single was also reissued after the September 11, 2001 attacks a decade later and charted even higher on the Hot 100, reaching number six.
Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle joined the coin toss ceremony.
The halftime show was titled “A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl”. It was produced by Disney and featured over 3,500 local children from different ethnic backgrounds and a performance by boy band New Kids on the Block, with special guest Warren Moon.
ABC did not broadcast the halftime show live. Instead, they televised a special ABC News report anchored by Peter Jennings on the progress of the Gulf War. The halftime show was later shown on tape delay after the game, although most ABC affiliates ran the first episode of Davis Rules following the broadcast.
After the game
This Super Bowl was the inspiration for the Ray Finkle character in the 1994 movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and provided a critical plot point for the 1998 Vincent Gallo film Buffalo ’66.
In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and Debra are watching their wedding video when all of a sudden the tape cuts to the opening kickoff of the game. Debra says “Did you hit something?” Ray says no, then Debra says, “Then why am I seeing football?” Later on in the episode, Ray has a group of his friends over to watch the tape of the game, and just as Scott Norwood misses his kick, the tape cuts back to the wedding, to the dismay of his friends. Ray says “We all know what happened.” One of his friends (The Priest) then said, “I forgot.”
To counteract the Bills’ no-huddle offense, the Giants’ strategy was to use a power running game utilizing O.J. Anderson, aided by quarterback rollouts, bootlegs, and play-action fakes. As tight end Mark Bavaro later recalled, “[w]e came out with three tight ends, fat slobs picking you up and moving you and letting you tackle O.J., if you could.” This enabled them to take time off the clock and limit Buffalo’s possessions. The Giants set a Super Bowl record for time of possession with 40 minutes, 33 seconds, including 22 minutes in the second half. On defense, New York wanted to be physical with Buffalo’s wideouts, and play with extra defensive backs to concentrate on stopping the Bills passing game, while conceding the running game.
The contrast in strategies was evident during the first period. After forcing the Bills to punt on the opening drive of the game, the Giants consumed 6:15 off the clock by marching 58 yards in 10 plays to score on a 28-yard field goal from Matt Bahr. In that drive, New York ran five rushing plays and five passing plays. But the Bills struck right back on their ensuing possession with a five-play, 66-yard drive that took 1:23 off the clock, including a tipped 61-yard completion from quarterback Jim Kelly to receiver James Lofton that set up Scott Norwood’s 23-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
After forcing the Giants to punt on their ensuing possession, the Bills’ offensive strategy started to work to perfection. Kelly led the Bills on a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that consumed 4:27 and moved the ball so effectively that the team never faced a third down. Kelly completed six consecutive passes (four to Andre Reed) for 62 yards, and running back Don Smith capped it off with a one-yard touchdown run to give Buffalo a 10-3 lead. Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run was his only carry of the game and the last carry of his career. Reed’s 5 first quarter receptions were a Super Bowl record.
After trading punts, the Giants were pinned at their own 7-yard line. On second down, defensive lineman Bruce Smith sacked quarterback Jeff Hostetler in the end zone for a safety, increasing the Bills’ lead 12-3. On the play, Smith had a chance to force a fumble since Hostetler was holding the football with only his throwing hand. But to his credit, Hostetler held the ball away from Smith, helping to ensure that only 2 points would be surrendered.
The Bills started out on their next drive with great field position following the free kick, but were forced to punt after 3 plays. Taking the ball at their own 13-yard line with 3:43 left in the second quarter, the Giants abandoned their long drive strategy and employed a quick strike attack of their own. Hostetler led the Giants 87 yards, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stephen Baker with just 25 seconds left in the half to cut New York’s deficit to 12-10.
The Giants opened the third quarter and resumed their original game strategy by driving 75 yards in 14 plays to score on Ottis Anderson’s one-yard touchdown run, taking the lead at 17-12. The drive consumed a then Super Bowl record nine minutes and 29 seconds (since surpassed by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII), and included four successful third down conversions. The highlight was a 14 yard pass to wide receiver Mark Ingram on 3rd down and 13 yards to go. Ingram caught a short pass and broke five Buffalo tackles to get the first down and keep the drive alive.
After forcing Buffalo to punt on its ensuing possession, New York drove to the Bills’ 35-yard line. But on fourth and two, Smith tackled Anderson for a 2-yard loss. Buffalo then took over and stormed down the field, advancing 63 yards in just four plays and scoring on a 31-yard burst from running back Thurman Thomas on the first play of the fourth quarter, regaining the lead at 19-17. Thomas’ fourth quarter touchdown run marked 1,000 points scored in Super Bowl history (1,001 with the extra point).
However, before the Bills’ defenders had a chance to catch their breath, they found themselves back on the field trying to contain another long Giants drive. This one went for 14 plays and 74 yards, half of which came off passes from Hostetler to tight end Mark Bavaro, and took another 7:32 off the clock. The Bills managed to halt the drive at their own 3-yard line when linebacker Cornelius Bennett broke up Hostetler’s third down pass, but Bahr kicked his second field goal to give New York a 20-19 lead.
On the Bills’ ensuing possession, they could only advance to their own 41-yard line before having to punt, enabling the Giants to take more time off the clock. The Bills finally forced New York to punt and took the ball at their own 10-yard line with 2:16 remaining. Kelly then led them down the field with a mix of scrambles, short passes, and Thomas runs. Buffalo drove to the Giants’ 29-yard line, setting up Norwood for a 47-yard field goal attempt with eight seconds left. However, his kick sailed wide right, less than a yard outside of the goalpost upright.
There were many impressive performances in the game by players from both teams. Jim Kelly completed 18 of 30 passes for 212 yards with no interceptions, while adding another 23 yards on six rushing attempts. Jeff Hostetler completed 20 of 32 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 10 yards. Dave Meggett recorded 129 combined net yards (48 rushing, 18 receiving, 37 punt return, 26 kickoff return). But the best performances came from both teams’ starting running backs. Ottis Anderson rushed for 102 yards, caught a pass for seven yards, and scored a touchdown. Thurman Thomas scored a touchdown, rushed for 135 yards, and caught five passes for 55 yards, giving him 190 total yards from the line of scrimmage. Thomas’ 135 yards are the most yards rushing for a member of a losing team. This was also only the second Super Bowl to have two 100-yard rushers.
The defensive game plan for the Giants, written by defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, has been included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Giants’ triumph helped Belichick and wide receivers coach Tom Coughlin make their names and eventually land head-coaching jobs with the Cleveland Browns and Boston College, respectively. Currently, Belichick is head coach of the New England Patriots, while Coughlin went from Boston College to be the first-ever head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and is currently the head coach of the Giants. Giants head coach Bill Parcells retired shortly after winning his second Super Bowl with the Giants. However, he has coached three other teams since then: the New England Patriots (whom he helped bring to Super Bowl XXXI) from 1993-1996, the New York Jets from 1997-1999, and the Dallas Cowboys from 2003-2006. Both Coughlin and Belichick have gone on to win Super Bowls as head coaches: Belichick with the Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX; Coughlin with the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, ironically against Belichick’s Patriots.
This was the first Super Bowl in which neither team committed a turnover. The only other Super Bowl to date without a turnover is Super Bowl XXXIV, in which the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16.
NYG – FG: Matt Bahr 28 yards 3-0 NYG
BUF – FG: Scott Norwood 23 yards 3-3 tie
BUF – TD: Don Smith 1 yard run (Scott Norwood kick) 10-3 BUF
BUF – Safety: Bruce Smith sacked Jeff Hostetler in end zone 12-3 BUF
NYG – TD: Stephen Baker 14 yard pass from Jeff Hostetler (Matt Bahr kick)12-10 BUF
NYG – TD: Ottis Anderson 1 yard run (Matt Bahr kick) 17-12 NYG
BUF – TD: Thurman Thomas 31 yard run (Scott Norwood kick) 19-17 BUF
NYG – FG: Matt Bahr 21 yards 20-19 NYG
Quotes from the Super Bowl
No good! Wide right New York Giants Win Super Bowl 25!
BC play by play announcer Al Michaels making the call of Scott Norwood’s missed field goal.
Snap. Spot. In the air. It’s got the distance! It is…no good New York Giants Have Won Super Bowl 25!
iants play-by-play announcer Jim Gordon calling the same moment as Michaels above.
Reich puts it down, on the way. It’s long enough! And it is no good! He missed it to the right with four seconds to play!
ills play-by-play announcer Van Miller calling the same moment.
Referee: Jerry Seeman (Seeman would replace Art McNally as the NFL’s Director of Officiating after this game)
Umpire: Art Demmas
Head Linesman: Sid Semon
Line Judge: Dick McKenzie
Field Judge: Jack Vaughan
Side Judge: Larry Nemmers
Back Judge: Banks Williams
Game time and weather conditions
6:00 p.m. EST
71 F (22 C), clear
1990 NFL season
NFL playoffs, 1990-91
^ “Sports People: Pro Football; The Rozelle Trophy”. The New York Times (The New York Times Company). October 10, 1990. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE6DC103DF933A25753C1A966958260. Retrieved February 25, 2007.
^ It’s Super Bowl loser Norwood’s unlucky number. Here’s why… Gary Imlach, The Guardian, January 7, 2007
^ O’Donnell, Chuck. Mark Bavaro: the former Giants tight end remembers being on pins and needles as Buffalo’s Scott Norwood lined up for his ill-fated field goal in Super Bowl 25, Football Digest, June 2005, accessed May 9, 2007.
^ In Super Bowl III, New York Jets running back Matt Snell recorded 121 rushing yards while Baltimore Colts running back Tom Matte ran for 116.
^ Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M., and Korch, Rick. The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present. 1994 ISBN 0312114354
2006 NFL Record and Fact Book. Time Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. Harper Collins. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995. ISBN 0-89204-523-X.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com – Large online database of NFL data and statistics
Super Bowl play-by-plays from USA Today (Last accessed September 28, 2005)
All-Time Super Bowl Odds from The Sports Network (Last accessed October 16, 2005)
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New York Giants Super Bowl XXV Champions
5 Sean Landeta | 6 Matt Cavanaugh | 9 Matt Bahr | 11 Phil Simms | 15 Jeff Hostetler | 21 Reyna Thompson | 22 Lee Rouson | 23 Perry Williams | 24 Ottis Anderson (MVP) | 25 Mark Collins | 26 Dave Duerson | 27 Rodney Hampton | 28 Everson Walls | 29 Myron Guyton | 30 Dave Meggett | 34 Lewis Tillman | 43 David Whitmore | 44 Maurice Carthon | 46 Roger Brown | 47 Greg Jackson | 51 Bobby Abrams | 52 Pepper Johnson | 55 Gary Reasons | 56 Lawrence Taylor | 57 Larry McGrew | 58 Carl Banks | 59 Brian Williams | 60 Eric Moore | 61 Bob Kratch | 64 Tom Rehder | 65 Bart Oates | 70 Leonard Marshall | 72 Doug Riesenberg | 73 John Washington | 74 Erik Howard | 76 Jumbo Elliott | 77 Eric Dorsey | 80 Bob Mrosko | 81 Stacy Robinson | 82 Mark Ingram | 84 Troy Kyles | 85 Stephen Baker | 87 Howard Cross | 89 Mark Bavaro | 93 Mike Fox | 98 Johnie Cooks | 99 Steve DeOssie
Head Coach: Bill Parcells
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Categories: Super Bowl | New York Giants postseason | Buffalo Bills postseason | Sports in Tampa, Florida | 1990 National Football League seasonHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from October 2008 | Articles with unsourced statements from September 2008