SUPER BOWL XXXV CHAMPION 2000 BALTIMORE RAVENS

One of The Chancellor of Football’s all time favorite teams!

35mainRay Lewis (The U) was most valuable player in a defensive game for the ages 34-7 over the NY Giants.  Ravens allowed 165 points for the season and would have won more if they would have stayed with a 4-3 defense and kept Trent Dilfer in 2001…yet I digress

What was crazy about this was the team meeting at the beginning of the offseason where Billick had Jim Brown talking to the team and he pulled Ray Lewis up.  Ray proceeded to address the team and told them he saw them winning the Super Bowl in a vision during his tumultuous off-season.  He gave an impassioned talk, in a grey t shirt and wearing a fishing hat, to his team of the need to be great and that he had to fulfill that prophecy in getting to Tampa. Wow!

Consider this is a team that had never been to the playoffs to that point. Not even close in their first 4 yrs from being borne of the Cleveland Brown ashes. Art Modell (Red Right ’88 /The Drive/ The Fumble) was supposed to be snake bitten. He carried the baggage of all the heartache from Cleveland playoff meltdowns.

35sideBoth Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks, the teams QBs, were cast off from other teams.  This was a true free agency Super Bowl champion with players who brought any real playoff experience was limited. Corey Harris (couple with Packers early 90s), Tony Siragusa (95 Colts run), Rod Woodson (mid 90s Steelers), Dilfer (97 Bucs/injured for 99) and the only player on the team I can think of with a Super Bowl ring was backup WR and special teamer Billy Davis (95 Cowboys)!! And head coach Brian Billick had been hired for his offensive acumen after leading the 1998 Minnesota Vikings to the NFL record of 556 points in a season.

The Chancellor of Football loved watching this team win it all because they did one thing…understood who they were and stayed with that belief.  I get so sick of teams copying “oh we’re running the west coast offense” blah blah blah…blow me! Develop who you are and game plan based on your personnel!! Defeat someone with something different than playing their same playbook!!

This team didn’t have the Vikings fleet receivers that Billick had in Minnesota, nor the quarterbacks. They learned early on “Hey we’re a running team and we have to play good defense and keep the score down.” Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa plug up the guard/center/guard and allow Sugar Ray (did I mention he’s from The U) to roam tackle to tackle and smash, Jamie Sharper smacking TEs…yikes!  Was there a better CB tandem on a Super Bowl champion than Starks and McAllister? Really? Woodson and Kim Herring were great as a tandem.  There just were no holes!

If they were still playing Super Bowl XXXV (15 yrs later) I still don’t think the Giants would have scored a touchdown yet on offense. By the time they reached the Super Bowl it was too late to derail them. It was facing the defending AFC Champions in Tennessee is where many experts thought would be an issue.

By the way… Tom Jackson took Tennessee that day on NFL Countdown… don’t let him fool you

It was beyond too late when they made the AFC Championship in Oakland as well

To watch them bludgeon their way to the Super Bowl was artful. I remember betting 3 friends at Fullerton Dodge that in the AFC championship that not only would the Ravens win, but they’d be the first team since 1970 to hold the host team without scoring a TD in their own stadium.  I won both bets! Lional Dalton claims I owe him money plus interest and it shut up Raider fans…Andre Rison pushed off and it was offensive pass interference.

35logoStrong team, strong character, and staying the course are what this team taught.  Even had a string of 22 quarters or so without an offensive touchdown…just keep going!

2000 Baltimore Ravens-powerful Super Bowl champion!

SUPER BOWL XXXIV CHAMPION 1999 ST LOUIS RAMS: One of the greatest of NFL champions

Wanna hear a strange fact? In week 3 of the 1999 season the Bengals hosted the Rams and these teams were tied for the most losses in the NFL for the 1990’s.  This game was a tiebreaker that the Bengals lost and “won” the title of the losingest team of the decade…the Rams …uh…well…they went in a different direction..

xxxivThe 1999 St Louis Rams…one of the best teams in history!  Greatest Show on turf!!  Everyone is so focused on the turnaround of this team that they don’t remember the feats performed during that year.  The NFL fan base was still reeling from the retirements of John Elway and Barry Sanders. The latter of the two we were used to serious moves and highlights since he was still at the height of his greatness just 2 years removed from his 2,000 yd season….enter Marshall Faulk.

I followed the trade from the Colts as “wow what’s going to happen to him?” yet had a feeling it was football karma’s reversing the Eric Dickerson trade.  You knew history would judge the Colts decision between what happened between he, and Edgerrin James.  The Rams won. Marshall replaced Barry Sanders as the league’s highlight reel and played his way into the Hall of Fame with 60TDs in 3 years, won 3 Offensive Player of the Year awards, and an NFL MVP in 2000.  Oh, I almost forgot 2 Super Bowl appearances and this championship.

So the ’99 Rams explode onto the scene and compile a 13-3 record:

  1. This team’s AVERAGE MARGIN of victory at home (YES 8-0) was a whopping 25 points a game during the regular season…Yikes!! Get this, of a possible 480 minutes in 8 home games; they were only behind for 4:24 seconds of it.
  2. Had the 6th best defense in the league with the leading sack artist in Kevin Carter with 17. Led the league with 8 defensive touchdowns that year and was #1 against the run!!!

*** IT WAS 2000 WHEN THEY HAD DEFENSIVE PROBLEMS…NOT 1999! ***

  1. Had the best kick return team in the league with Tony Horne taking 2 KO TDs back & Az-Zahir Hakim taking back a punt for a TD

xxxiv1CONSIDER THIS BEFORE

  1. Kurt Warner threw for 4,300 yards (this generations Johnny U) & became the story of the league and became the second quarterback in history to throw for more than 40 TDs with 41. This hadn’t been seen since 1986, although Brett Favre had thrown 39 in an MVP Super Bowl season, same here. Threw for a Super Bowl record 414 yards and a 73 yard game winning score.
  2. marshallfaulkhall

    Marshall Faulk on Saturday’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

    Marshall Faulk’s ridiculous year where he became the second 1,000yd rusher/1,000yd receiver in the same season to join Roger Craig.  Craig had 1,050 yards rushing, & 1,016 yards receiving.  Marshall blew by that with 1,381 yards rushing and 1,048 receiving! And he sat out nearly 3 quarters in the last game at Philly and countless blowout 4th quarters!

  3. Broke Barry Sanders total yards from scrimmage record with2,429 yards from scrimmage…yikes!  Now, Chris Johnson broke Marshall’s record on a team that kept feeding him the ball, had Faulk not sat out 3qtrs of the last game in Philadelphia where the Rams still scored 31.  Nor sat out several blowout 4th quarters, how high would Faulk have REALLY PUSHED THIS RECORD??
  4. The Rams were #1 in offense, #1 in scoring and the highest scoring league champion ever with 526 points.

 

* They would become the first team ever to score 500 pts in multiple seasons with 3 straight. In doing so became the highest scoring team ever over a 3 year period averaging 32 points per game.*

xxxiv3The turnaround can be attributed to Dick Vermeil’s adjusting to the practice habits of modern coaching.  He stopped overworking his team before the 1999 season after two underwhelming seasons in St. Louis.  He learned from other coaches and had a staff of Mike White, Jim Hanifan, and Al Saunders who were all NFL former head coaches.

That’s before bringing up offensive coordinator Mike Martz who would become the Ram’s coach in 2000 replacing Vermeil. That’s a staff of FIVE NFL Head Coaches!! They honed the Rams lethal speed into a precise machine that the NFL hadn’t seen before in a league champion. Defenses feared going into the Trans World Dome. It was great to see Vermeil be rewarded for taking a new approach.

pace-hall-speech

The Chancellor met Dick Vermeil before the ceremony and how close I was to witness Orlando Pace’s induction.

This 1999 team was a one of a kind meteor that was one of the best in NFL history for a season…more potent than any 80’s 49er team, more spectacular blowouts than the 70s Steelers teams.  They rank up with the 1985 Bears, 1972 Dolphins, and 1994 49ers as one of the most dominant teams in history for one season.  Just look at the numbers!!!!

 

SUPER BOWL XXX CHAMPION 1995 DALLAS COWBOYS

One year after the San Francisco 49ers won a record fifth Super Bowl the Dallas Cowboys equaled that feat. The hardest pill to swallow for Dallas was the lost chance to 3-peat when the 49ers dethroned them in Candlestick Park that January day in the NFC Championship.

sbxxx3Ironically that 38-28 loss was easily one of the greatest games in Cowboys history.  During their championship years they had never been challenged like that, faced so much adversity, yet kept fighting on valiantly when all seemed to be lost. The game concluded the greatest series of championships between two teams.

Let’s take you back to January 15, 1995. The league was still reeling from the surprise departure of Jimmy Johnson (The U) and although Barry Switzer was there at the press conferences, we were waiting for the April fool’s joke to end.  It was Jerry Jones insistence that any coach could win with the talent the Cowboys had that led to the hiring of Switzer without any changes to the rest of the staff. That was plain goofy.

After losing Pro Bowlers Thomas Everett, Ken Norton, Jimmy Jones, Kevin Gogan, and sparkplug special teamer Kenny Gant to free agency, the Cowboys still marched to a 12-4 record.  Emmitt Smith was still the engine of the offense.

Aikman, Novacek, Irvin (The U), and Harper still posed a formidable passing attack. Charles Haley, Tony Tolbert, Darren Woodson, Russell Maryland (The U), James Washington, and Darrin Smith (The U) anchored one of the league’s best defenses despite the personnel losses. They marched into the 1994 playoffs with the chance of equaling Lombardi’s Packers in winning 3 straight championships.  So what happened??

The 49ers treating the 1993 Pro Bowl as a college recruiting trip is what happened.  The 1994 season was to be the first with free agency and it was actually Dallas’ fault that the 49ers coaching staff was there in the first place.  Back then the team that lost the conference championship to get to the Super Bowl is the coaching staff who coached that year’s pro bowl squad.  Going into the ’93 NFC Championship game, then coach Jimmy Johnson called into a radio show proclaiming “We will win the ballgame, and put it in 3 inch headline!” which irked the 49ers brass and players.

The Cowboys had prevailed in the ‘92 championship game also over the 49ers and it was a declaration that Dallas IS now the heavy between the two.  Oh you gotta love that “U” swagger! The 49ers came unglued getting roped into a pregame fight and behaved completely out of character.  They lost the game in a very boisterous embarrassing fashion 38-21.  On a quiet elevator ride down amidst the din of a celebrating Texas Stadium, Eddie DeBartolo turned to Carmen Policy and said simply “We must never be embarrassed like this again”

super-bowl-logo-1995Carmen Policy accompanied the 49er coaching staff to the Pro Bowl and went to work on specific changes the Niners needed to make to dethrone Dallas. Stealing Ken Norton from the Cowboys, whispering in the ears of  Bart Oates (Giants), Charles Mann (Redskins), Ricky Jackson (Saints), Richard Dent (Bears), and Deion Sanders (Falcons) ‘Pssstt, you know if you helped us on defense, we have the offense to knock off Dallas and we can get you a ring.’  I can so picture Policy saying that with a used car salesman smile / smirk and it worked. The 49ers were going to field an NFC Pro Bowl defense to stop Emmitt, Aikman, and Irvin and it came to full fruition January 15, 1995.  Each had a specific assignment.

Both teams came into that game extremely fired up. This time it was the 49erswith the bravado and starting the pre-game shoving matches and was the more intense team.  First assignment was fooling Dallas into thinking Deion Sanders was going to cover Irvin, when he was there to cover Harper.  Harper had become the playoff all time yardage per reception leader based upon his games against the 49ers. This confused Dallas into the first interception that made it 7-0. The offense was not only unprepared for that they benched Harper to try to figure it out. Two more turnovers ensued in that confusion and the white hot 49ers scored to make it 21-0 in the first quarter.

It was from this point on that the Cowboys showed a determination not shown in collecting the two championships from the seasons before.  They were in hostile territory, hopelessly behind, against an all star team put together piece by piece to defeat them and halt their progression into history.

They valiantly tried to stay in the game; Aikman threw for a career high 350 yards (first 300 yard game of career), Irvin set the team post season reception record with 12 for nearly 192 yards and 2 TDs while providing leadership. Emmitt Smith scored twice before his bad hamstring forced him out of the game.  In the end it wasn’t enough but the fight they showed for 3 quarters was tremendous to say the least.  To defeat the Cowboys the 49ers had to buy an all star defense with 5 pro bowl defenders. The 38-28 defeat provided the springboard into the next season.

After a few more free agent defections it became clear that this was the last hurrah for the team that Jimmy Johnson had built. They had been withered away in the two years of free agency however in the spirit of cold war double agent dealing, they wrested Deion Sanders away from the 49ers to return the favor of stealing Ken Norton from them.  An 8-1 start pointed that the Cowboys were clearly the team to beat yet a 38-21 loss to the 49ers brought them back down to Earth.

Another late season loss and it seemed the chance to win 3 out of 4 was going down the drain like the dream of a 3-peat. Then came the famous 4th down failures in a late season loss to Philadelphia 20-17. Yet Emmitt Smith, who went on to lead the league with 1,773 yards rushing kept chugging along and carried this team on his back.  He went on to set the record with 25TDs for the year. Going into the playoffs everyone thought they’d face the 49ers for the 4th straight season but the Green Bay Packers put an end to that.  Playing the Packers in the NFC Championship at home gave the Cowboys an edge as they won 38-27 to advance to Super Bowl XXX. For a more visceral feel:

There they outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 to become the first team to win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and the first franchise to win the Super Bowl with 3 different coaches.  The Steelers punched the Cowboys square in the star but MVP Larry Brown’s interceptions sealed the game for Dallas.

The Cowboys of the early 90’s was the first champion to be besieged by free agency.  How many times would they have won if Jimmy Johnson’s original squad been able to stay together as the Dolphins, & Steelers of the ‘70s did?  I think they would have won 5 or 6 titles…What do you think?

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SUPER BOWL XXIX CHAMPION 1994 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

In the eyes of The Chancellor of Football, this was the best 49er team ever! Think of a mythical game between the 1989 49ers and the 1994 49ers…Who would win?

xxix1Think about, if the 89 Niners version of Jerry Rice being covered by the ’94 NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Deion Sanders, than zone off the rest of the defense to cover Craig, Taylor, Rathman, and Jones? The 94 Niners beat them…why am I talking about this? Well the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX just shouldn’t have been there.

Pittsburgh took them lightly in the AFC Championship and when they realized they were in a game it was too late and lost 17-13.  Am I wrong?

Anyway, the 89 49ers didn’t have the LB speed to cover Watters out of the backfield (Romanowski, Keena Turner, Matt Millen or Michael Walter) and had Deion to shut down Rice. Quietly one of the best teams in history, in fact they had to beat one (Cowboys of 1991-1995, 3 Super Bowl wins) just to get there.  The Niners lost their mojo, when they let Ricky Watters leave via free agency. Yet for that 1994, give it up to one of the best ever.

If football were a different kind of commercial business, they’d be Microsoft.  All the innovations and ideas to stay atop the league should be applauded.  The smartest move EVER was what they did after losing the second NFC Championship in a row to Dallas in 1993.

Back then the loser of the Conference Championship game’s coaches would coach the conference’s Pro Bowl team.  With free agency being new, how to approach players hadn’t really been an exact science.  Having lost Ronnie Lott and other defensive greats over the last few years, the defense didn’t have punch to match their offense, and certainly couldn’t handle Dallas.

What did the 49ers do?  They treated the 1993 Pro Bowl as a college recruiting trip… LOL  I can still picture George Seifert and Carmen Policy whispering to Ricky Jackson, Richard Dent, Bart Oates, Charles Mann, Ken Norton, and Deion Sanders “Pssst, you know we can beat Dallas and get you a ring if you sign with us…we already have the offense.”

Not only did they get players, they had specific designs for them.  Deion Sanders (’94 NFL Defensive player of the year) was to shut down Alvin Harper (all time leading receiver in yards per catch in postseason history) who had lit up the Niners for big plays in the last two conference finals.

sb29First up, Ken Norton Jr.; to take a key cog off the Cowboy defense and had faced Dallas in practice, and he would know their strength and weaknesses and light a fire on that side of the ball.  Richard Dent, Charles Mann, and Ricky Jackson were to be pass rushers that would be able to get to Troy Aikman because Artie Smith, Troy Wilson were “tweeners” that got manhandled by Cowboy tackles. Neither Larry Roberts nor Dennis Brown were effective enough.

Bart Oates helped solidify the offensive line and knew how to play the Cowboys stunting tackles having played against them in New York.  Throw in a rejuvenated Gary Plummer and this was a team with no holes in it!! I put this team against any in history and struggle to find who they’d lose to.

…and by the way, I did say Deion Sanders for Alvin Harper and not Michael Irvin.  How do we know this? Microsoft…I mean the 49ers were great at poker…they didn’t show their hand in the regular season matchup with Dallas in their use of Deion.  Yet when they stepped on the field for the NFC Championship game,  Deion (speed player) was on Alvin Harper (speed player) and could zone and cover Michael Irvin (The U) who wasn’t that fast.  They fooled Aikman into the interception returned for a touchdown on the 3rd play of the game by Eric Davis.  You know the 21-0 lead…and the rest.

Most notable was on Dallas 3rd possession Dallas took Harper out of the game! He came back a possession or two later but Deion’s coverage of him not only sapped his confidence and shook up the coaching staff on how to attack San Fran.  So decisive was this that you can trace the decline of Alvin Harper’s career from that exact point.

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SUPER BOWL XXVIII CHAMPION 1993 DALLAS COWBOYS

xxviiiJimmy Johnson’s last ring with Dallas after the 1993 season besting MY Buffalo Bills 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII, but don’t forget, he and that coaching staff was from  the [[_]]. The Cowboys were on the brink of becoming one of the NFL’s greatest dynasties.

Had Jimmy and Jerry Jones been able to suppress egos this team was primed to win 5 or 6 Super Bowls in the 1990’s. Michael Irvin had just finished his 6th year, Emmitt his 4th, & Troy Aikman his 5th. A slew of defensive starters had come onto the ball club from 1991 on including Russell Maryland, Dixon Edwards, Darren Woodson, Kevin Smith, and Larry Brown. They had just added a rookie star in LB Darrin Smith off the Miami Hurricanes (the [[_]]).

Did you know Hall of Famer Charles Haley didn’t make the Pro Bowl in 1993?? However 10 of his teammates did including 3 members from The Great Wall in Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, and Erik Williams. This team was stacked… yet Jimmy and Jerry left us wondering “what if?” which rages on to this day.

**Taken from another Taylor Blitz article comparing the Cowboys and the Patriots who each won 3 titles in 4 years**

xxviii3The Patriots remind me of what I think of the early 70’s Dolphins.  They’re not perceived as stronger, or faster..etc  They were always a step smarter when they needed to be and more physical than you expected. Just ask the Steelers who they beat twice in AFC Championships IN PITTSBURGH in both 2001 & 2004.  They kept Peyton Manning hogtied for years when he faced them. In winning their 3rd in 4 years the question came up “Who was better between the 90s Cowboys or the 00’s Patriots?”  Hmmmm at first glance…its no question the Cowboys were….but lets think about this a second…each team suppressed future super bowl winners…

*Cowboys held back Packers and 49ers who went on to win 29 and 31 respectively

*Patriots hed back the Steelers and the Colts who went on to win 40 and 41 respectively

Dallas defense was built on speed and the best way to attack it is to run right at them.  Corey Dillon was that type of back. The Cowboys strength was running right at their opponent with that offensive line and Emmitt Smith. Well the Patriots had some beef up front with Vince Wilfork (The U) Richard Seymour and Ty Warren.  Ty Law covering Michael Irvin(the U). Troy Aikman vs Tom Brady…Darren Woodson and Rodney Harrison hard hitting safetys for both teams…damn they’re more alike than originally thought!!

xxviii2I’ll have to go with the Cowboys in a close game 30-20.  Charles Haley and Tony Tolbert would have several sacks. Haley had sacks in 4 of the 5 Super Bowls he won…so he would get to Brady. Emmitt and Corey would each rush for 100 yards. Alvin Harper takes Tyrone Poole or Assante Samuel deep a couple times and “Moose” Johnston and Novacek would beat on Patriot linebackers for key first downs.  Deion Branch would do work on Kevin Smith and Larry Brown but other receivers would be swallowed by Darrin Smith (the U) and those fast linebackers. This is before i bring up FS Thomas Everett for any errant throws over the middle.

**No Deion Sanders—using the 93 Cowboys as a model because the 1993 Cowboys would kick the 95 Cowboys ass! Jimmy Johnson would be the coach not Barry Switzer**

So upon further review the Cowboys would win…

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SUPER BOWL XXVII CHAMPION 1992 DALLAS COWBOYS

The Dallas Cowboys championship for Super Bowl XXVII. I wished Jimmy Johnson would have had this on when I met him and the entire Cowboy coaching staff at Houlihan’s in Columbus, Ohio on St Patrick’s Day 1993.

27winThey had just visited Ohio State University and tested out players before the draft.  Standing room only in this bar on St Patty’s and havin’ a drink with an off duty police officer at the door and in they came right between us…”That S.O.B. looks just like Jimmy Johnson?” is all I could blurt out…I was drinking gang…articulation isn’t a strong suit at a time like that.  Never mind being a fan of the Miami Hurricanes, etc. Talking to him was cool…slapped me on the back and said sorry about Buffalo…lol.  This was 1 1/2 months after the 52-17 Super Bowl win Dallas had over the Bills.

Anyway, think about the ridiculous strength of this 1992 Cowboy team. Everyone has lionized Emmitt, Irvin, Troy, and lauded the trade for Charles Haley.  Bill Bates was injured, Darren Woodson (Cowboys all-time leading tackler) didn’t even start. Jimmy Smith (wideout for Jacksonville Jaguars of nearly 1000 catches) was also on this team and injured.  How many Super Bowls would Dallas have won had Jimmy stayed in Dallas?  I say they would have become the first 5 or 6 time winner of Super Bowls in a decade.  So what was the move that put the Cowboys over the top?  The Charles Haley trade?  No it was the trade for S Thomas Everett who had been a holdout for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

xxvii2You say, huh? Thomas Everett?  Think of it like this…going into the 1992 season the Cowboys Achilles’ heel was their secondary.  Their draft tells you that picking up SS Darren Woodson, CB Kevin Smith, and CB Clayton Holmes in the first few rounds. In 1991, Dallas had lost to 4 run and shoot teams including a 38-6 drubbing to Detroit in the divisional round of the playoffs. The biggest blowout loss of any NFC team in the 1990’s. They had some coverage issues but Everett solidified the secondary, put players in good spots and made several plays that defined the Super Bowl XXVII rout of my Buffalo Bills.  He helped turn the secondary into a team strength.

In the 2nd quarter when Buffalo was threatening to take the lead, Dallas had a goal line stand where Buffalo went for it on 4th down from the 1. Who intercepted the ball in the endzone to totally deflate the Bills? Thomas Everett. After halftime down 28-10 and fired up to get back into the game in the 3rd quarter, who read a short route and jumped it returning an interception to Buffalo’s 10 to end the competitive phase of the game?  Yup Thomas Everett!

xxvii3Funny he only played for Dallas in 1992 and 1993 and was a Pro Bowler who didn’t get his due for what he meant to that defense.  Without Haley in 1991, they made it to the Divisional round of the playoffs yet were destroyed by Detroit’s passing game.  Everett made sure that no one would do that in 1992.

This was the best of the Cowboys teams of the 90’s. Everett got his due in ’93 with a Pro Bowl berth.  One of the reason’s they didn’t three-peat in ’94 I believe started with Jimmy Johnson’s (the [[_]]) departure and the other was losing Thomas Everett to Tampa.

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