Football

THE BIG GAME IS BACK

TAMPA — The Super Bowl returns to Tampa for the fourth time in the game’s 43-year history this Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Arizona Cardinals.

History will be made at Raymond James Stadium no matter the outcomes.

The Cardinals can snap a 61-year NFL championship drought with a win, while the Steelers can win their NFL-record sixth Super Bowl title.

If Tampa’s fourth Super Bowl is anything like the first three, it will provide memorable moments both before and during the game.

The first Super Bowl in Tampa, played Jan. 22, 1984, became known as “Black Sunday,” for the way the black-clad Los Angeles Raiders handled the defending champion Washington Redskins.

The Raiders’ 38-9 victory was the most lopsided Super Bowl in 18 years.

Raiders running back Marcus Allen set records with 191 rushing yards and a 74-yard touchdown run and became the third former Heisman Trophy winner to earn MVP honors.

Apple changed the direction of Super Bowl ads when it aired its groundbreaking “1984” commercial.

Barry Manilow sang the national anthem. The action-drama series “Airwolf” immediately followed the game on CBS.

But to most football fans, Super Bowl XVIII is known for one play — Jack Squirek’s interception of a Joe Theismann pass just before halftime that basically ended the day for the Redskins.

Washington, pinned deep in its own territory, ran the “Rocket Screen,” a pass to running back Joe Washington. The play went for 67 yards when the teams played in the regular season.

Seeing the formation, Raiders linebackers coach Charlie Sumner sent Squirek on the field at the last moment. Matt Millen had to hustle off to avoid getting a penalty.

“I was mad,” said Millen after the game.

“I’d called a blitz, and I was cranked up for it, but he told Jack to play the screen and sent him in. I guess Charlie knows what he’s doing, huh?”

Squirek picked off Theismann’s pass at the 12-yard line with 12 seconds to play and walked into the end zone. The Raiders took a commanding 21-3 lead into the half.

Ballgame.

The second Tampa Super Bowl, XXV on Jan. 27, 1991, was the last played at Tampa Stadium produced the smallest margin of victory in Super Bowl history — one point.

It was the silver anniversary of the Super Bowl, and the NFL celebrated by attaching Super Bowl patches to the jerseys of the players and painted the Super Bowl XXV logo at midfield, a tradition that has been repeated in each Super Bowl that has followed.

The game matched the time-honored battle of high-powered offense vs. dominating defense.

The Buffalo Bills scored an NFL-high 428 points during the regular season. The New York Giants allowed an NFL-low 211.

The Giants offense, led by running back Ottis Anderson, held the ball for an incredible 40 minutes, 33 seconds and held on to a 20-19 victory.

The Bills had the ball for less than eight minutes in the second half.

Still, they managed to score a point for each minute of their possession time.

This Super Bowl is known for two moments: Whitney Houston’s rendition of the national anthem and Scott Norwood’s missed field goal in the final seconds.

Lip synching, Houston captured the patriotic fever sweeping the country in the wake of the Gulf War. To protect against terrorist attacks, FBI sharpshooters were stationed around the stadium.

Houston’s version of the anthem was released as a single and rose as high as 20 on the charts, making it the only rendition of the national anthem to be a hit single.

Meanwhile, Norwood had the chance to lift the Bills past the Giants’ dominance, but his potential 47-yard field goal sailed wide right.

It would have been Norwood’s longest kick on grass that year and might have changed the course of Super Bowl history. If anything, it would have prevented the Bills from losing four straight Super Bowls.

It would be 10 years before the Super Bowl would return to Tampa, and it would return to a new stadium — Raymond James.

The Giants returned, too, for Super Bowl XXXV, played Jan. 28, 2001. Their opponent was the Baltimore Ravens.

Once again, the game was draped in patriotic themes as the NFL helped America celebrate its 225th birthday as well as the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War.

Ray Charles performed “America the Beautiful.”

Greg Gumbel became the first black announcer to call a Super Bowl.

The Backstreet Boys sang the national anthem.

Then the Ravens defense took over, holding the Giants to 152 yards. Led by linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens defense recorded four sacks and forced five fumbles.

Another interception was returned for a touchdown when Duane Starks took a pick back 49 yards to give the Ravens a 17-0 lead.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Trent Dilfer returned and won a Super Bowl in a stadium where he was regularly booed.

He passed for 153 yards and a touchdown and did not throw an interception.

Lewis, who grew up in Lakeland, became the second linebacker to win MVP honors. He finished with 11 solo tackles, six assists and blocked four passes.

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