Final play of Super Bowl XXXIV

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The final play of Super Bowl XXXIV (also known as The Tackle[1][2] and One Yard Short[3][4]) occurred January 30, 2000, in the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans.[5] Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson at the one-yard line, preserving the Rams' 23–16 victory.[6][7]

Given the pressure of the Super Bowl and the wild game that preceded it, the play is considered one of the most exciting game-ending plays in recent National Football League history. The image of Dyson stretching the ball towards the goal line with Jones wrapped around him has become a staple of NFL highlights, especially in the participating teams' markets. ESPN.com ranked The Tackle as the 35th-greatest moment of the past 25 years in sports (as of 2007)[8] and the second-greatest moment in Super Bowl history.[3]

Play[edit]

The 1999 season had shown Jones and the Rams' defense to be a powerful and stout unit, though overshadowed by the team's high-powered offense, known as The Greatest Show on Turf.[9]

As Super Bowl XXXIV drew to its close, the Titans drove to the Rams' 10-yard line and called their last timeout, stopping the clock with six seconds remaining. Trailing by a touchdown, they had one last chance to tie the game (or win it with a two-point conversion). The Titans drew up their plan: tight end Frank Wycheck would run straight up the field on the right side to lure Jones away from Dyson, who would slant left over the middle. With Jones focused on Wycheck, quarterback Steve McNair would pass the ball to Dyson, who would be open from about five yards out for the score. Moments before this play, the Titans' radio broadcasters were quoted as saying: "It has never happened in Super Bowl history, for a team to score on the last play of regulation!" (NFL Films video of Super Bowl XXXIV) This would happen two years later in Super Bowl XXXVI, when the New England Patriots kicked a game winning field goal on the final play of the game, which was ironically against the St. Louis Rams.

In the first moments after the snap, the play proceeded as the Titans had envisioned. Jones stayed with Wycheck on the streak route from the beginning of the play. After McNair fired to an open Dyson, Jones, now at the goal line, glanced over his left shoulder and noticed Dyson catching the ball. Jones then switched directions and managed to wrap up Dyson's legs about 2½ yards from the goal line.

With his legs immobilized, Dyson then attempted to reach towards the end zone and breach the plane with the ball. Both players then went into a rolling motion of sorts as Dyson—his back in the air but nearly touching the ground, as his legs were on top of Jones—stretched out his hand with the football towards the goal line.

When Dyson's knee hit the turf, ending the play and the game, the ball was inside the one-yard line. He reached one last time and placed the ball over the goal line, but it was already too late.

Captured by NFL Films following the final play was Frank Wycheck (on one knee) and Kevin Dyson (hunched over with his hands on his knees) inside the yellow Rams' end zone. Both Titans' players looked on in sheer disbelief at the final spotting of the game ball, a game official standing right over the ball which was spotted inside the 1-yard line (presumably at the ½-yard line).

The call[edit]

ABC Sports broadcaster Al Michaels made the following call as the play happened:

  • "It is caught by Dyson. Can he get in? NO, HE CANNOT! Mike Jones made the tackle...and the Rams have won the Super Bowl!"

Al Michaels, after the game, said this about Mike Jones:

  • "Mike Jones, the linebacker—you don't hear a lot about him—he is the guy that was able to take Dyson down before he got to the goal line."

The St. Louis Rams radio announcer, Mike Bush, made the call as it happened:

  • "Back to throw is McNair. He's got Kevin Dyson. Reaches for the goal line. No! He falls at the one. Time runs out. That's it!"

Mike Bush, after seconds of St. Louis celebrating, said this:

  • "St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, is now the gateway to the BEST...football team in the world!"

The Tennessee Titans radio announcers, Mike Keith and Pat Ryan called on the play:

  • "McNair drops, throws, right side for Dyson. He dives for the end zone!"
  • "He didn't make it."
  • "He came up one yard short. The Rams win by a yard!"

Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports broadcaster Howard David, during the national radio broadcast of the game:

  • "Shotgun for McNair...takes the snap, looks to the right, throws...and it's complete to Dyson at the one yard line and he's stopped short! The clock strikes triple zero. Kevin Dyson caught the ball and Mike Jones made the tackle at the one yard line to preserve a win for the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV."

St. Louis Rams head coach Dick Vermeil after the play (captured by NFL Films):

  • "Didn't make it, Didn't make it, no, no, that's it, we won it, wooohooo! That's the game, it's over, it's over, we're world champions!"

References in other media[edit]

  • In the 2000 film Cast Away, Tom Hanks' character returns from being stranded on an island for four years to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. His former fiancee, Kelly, tells him that the Houston Oilers have folded and the Titans formed. She adds that the Titans came close to winning a Super Bowl, losing on the last play and separated from overtime by one yard. [10]
  • When running for President in 2000, Al Gore was announced at least once as a Tennessean who wouldn't come up "one yard short."[by whom?] Ironically, Gore lost Tennessee to George W. Bush, coming up just a few hundred votes short to Bush in the swing state of Florida.

See also[edit]

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