Super Bowl XXXII
The defending Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers, owner of a 13-3 regular season, made a triumphant return to Super Bowl XXXII as NFC champions. Becoming back-to-back Super Bowl champs seemed like a very real possibility … at least in the pre-season as the squad went undefeated. After winning the first game of the regular season, they would drop game 2 to the Philadelphia Eagles, but only lose two more the rest of the season behind head coach Mike Holmgren, quarterback Brett Favre, and future Hall of Famer Reggie White to become 11.5-point favorites headed into the big game. The AFC champion Denver Broncos, owners of a 12-4 regular season record and led by head coach Mike Shanahan and field general John Elway (plus future Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman), had something else in mind … despite getting their ticket punched courtesy of a wild card berth.
Super Bowl XXXII was held on January 25, 1998, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, and proved to be a much closer contest than many experts had predicted, with the combatants keeping pace and finding themselves tied 7-7 after the 1st quarter. (When the Pack took their 7-0 lead, they became just the third squad in Super Bowl history to take the opening kickoff down the field and score a touchdown on that drive). The Broncos accomplished a similar feat, however, thus making Super Bowl XXXII the only one in which both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives. The Broncos converted two turnovers to take a 17-7 lead in the 2nd quarter before the Packers cut the score to a slim 17-14 at the half. Denver emerged from the 3rd quarter with another touchdown to make the score 24-17. In the 4th quarter, both teams added another 7 points to the tally before Denver gained possession of the ball and ran out the clock, giving them a 31-24 victory and handing Green Bay a shocking defeat. The win snapped a 13-game losing streak for AFC teams in the Super Bowl. The Broncos also became just the second wild card team (joining the Oakland Raiders) to win a Super Bowl. The Packers also made a bit of history as the first team since Super Bowl IV to be favored to win by double digits … to ultimately leave the field in defeat. Running back Terrell Davis was honored as the game's MVP, thanks not only to a go-ahead touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining, but also his 157 yards and a Super Bowl record three rushing touchdowns.