|Super Bowl XXX|
|Date||January 28, 1996|
|Stadium||Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona|
|MVP||Larry Brown, Cornerback|
|Favorite||Cowboys by 13½|
|National anthem||Vanessa Williams|
|Coin toss||Joe Montana representing previous Super Bowl MVPs|
|Halftime show||Diana Ross|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Dick Enberg, Phil Simms and Paul Maguire|
|Nielsen ratings||46.0 |
(est. 94.08 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||US$1.085 million|
Super Bowl XXX was an American football game played on January 28, 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion following the 1995 regular season. The National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys (15–4) defeated the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers (13–6), 27–17.
Dallas tied the San Francisco 49ers for the most Super Bowl wins by a team (5) and became the first team to win three Super Bowls in four years. This game was the third meeting between the Cowboys and Steelers in a Super Bowl (after Super Bowl X and Super Bowl XIII), which is currently the most between any two NFL teams. For Pittsburgh, it was their first Super Bowl loss in team history after winning four in the 1970s. Pittsburgh would later surpass both the Cowboys and 49ers with 6 Super Bowl victories after the Steelers won Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Pittsburgh's next Super Bowl loss would come in Super Bowl XLV (played at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas) to the Green Bay Packers.
Dallas' Larry Brown became the first cornerback to be named Super Bowl MVP, by recording two interceptions thrown by Neil O'Donnell and returning them for a total of 77 yards. The Cowboys sealed the victory by converting Brown's interceptions into 2 touchdowns.
The NBC television broadcast averaged 95.13 million people in the United States, then making it the most watched sporting event ever on American television, and the second most watched program of all, trailing only the final episode of M*A*S*H (Later surpassed by Super Bowl XLV). The metropolitan Phoenix area hosted the Super Bowl again twelve years later.
Tempe was originally chosen as the venue for Super Bowl XXVII. However, the NFL pulled the game away from Arizona after the league joined a massive, nationwide tourist boycott by various groups to protest the state’s refusal to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. After Arizona finally adopted the federal holiday in 1992, the NFL again began to consider Tempe. NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXX to Tempe, Arizona during their March 23, 1993 meeting.
Super Bowl XXX was the last to be hosted in a stadium containing bleacher seats, and would also be the last Super Bowl to be held on a college campus, as the stadium sits on the campus of Arizona State University.
The Cowboys entered the 1995 regular season attempting to win 3 out of the last 4 Super Bowls. They had previously won Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII but their chance of a "three-peat" (winning three consecutive championships) was thwarted when they lost the NFC Championship Game to the San Francisco 49ers, the eventual Super Bowl XXIX winners. This was the Cowboys’ 8th appearance in the Super Bowl, the most of any franchise.
After taking over the Cowboys in 1989, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jimmy Johnson rebuilt the team into a Super Bowl contender with young talent. Both had different ideas on the future personnel plans for the Cowboys and both wanted equal credit for the team's recent success. As a result, Johnson eventually left the team after their XXVIII win and was replaced by former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer, who had one of the highest winning percentages of any college football coach in history with a mark of .837.
In 1995, the Cowboys finished with a 12–4 regular season record, the best in the NFC. Pro Bowl quarterback Troy Aikman finished the regular season completing 280 out of 432 passes for 3,304 yards and 16 touchdowns, with only 7 interceptions. Pro Bowl running back Emmitt Smith won his fourth league rushing crown in his career with 1,773 yards, and broke a league single-season record with 25 rushing touchdowns. Smith was also a reliable receiver out of the backfield, recording a career high 62 receptions for 375 yards. Fullback Daryl Johnson added 111 rushing yards, while also catching 30 passes for 248 and scoring three touchdowns. Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Irvin led the team in receiving with 111 catches for 1,603 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pro Bowl tight end Jay Novacek also had 62 receptions for 705 yards and 5 touchdowns. Dallas' offensive line was led by Pro Bowlers Larry Allen, Ray Donaldson, Nate Newton and Mark Tuinei.
Dallas' major acquisition before the season was 4-time Pro Bowl cornerback Deion Sanders. Coincidentally, Sanders won the Super Bowl the year before with San Francisco. However, Sanders only played 9 regular season games for the Cowboys in 1995 due to injuries, and thus only recorded 24 tackles and 2 interceptions for 34 yards. However, safety Darren Woodson was named to the Pro Bowl with 89 tackles and 2 interceptions for 46 return yards and a touchdown. Cornerback Larry Brown led the team in interceptions with 6 for 124 return yards and 2 touchdowns. Pro Bowl defensive lineman Charles Haley led the team in sacks with 10.5. Safety Brock Marion recorded 6 interceptions, returning them for 40 yards and a touchdown.
After starting fast at 8-1, the Cowboys hit a major bump in the road, losing big at home to the 49ers, 38-20 (they trailed 31-14 at half time). Ironically, the 49ers, the previous Super Bowl champion, also suffered a blow out loss at home the prior season (40-8 to the Philadelphia Eagles). Adding insult to injury, the 49ers were without starting quarterback Steve Young and fullback William Floyd. The game was highly anticipated, with verbal exchanges between the teams during the week, and it marked the beginning of a difficult stretch for the team. The following four games resulted in two more losses for the Cowboys. However, after a narrow 21-20 win against the Giants, the Cowboys regained their dominating form, trouncing the Arizona Cardinals (who were playing their home games at Sun Devil Stadium) 37-13 on Christmas night at Arizona as part of Monday Night Football, and then cruising through the playoffs with convincing wins against the Eagles and the Packers.
Super Bowl XXX was the first time that the Steelers advanced to the league championship game since winning Super Bowl XIV and the first under head coach Bill Cowher. Cowher took over the team in 1992 after longtime head coach Chuck Noll retired after a 23-year tenure and leading the team to 4 Super Bowl wins. During Cowher's first year, the Steelers captured the #1 AFC playoff Seed with an 11–5 regular season record, but were eliminated in their first playoff game against the Buffalo Bills, 24-3. Cowher then led the Steelers into the playoffs in 1993 and 1994 but were also eliminated, including a 17–13 upset loss to the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game.
In 1995, the Steelers overcame a 3–4 start (including a 20–16 upset loss to the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars) to win 8 of their final 9 games and finished with an 11–5 record, the second best in the AFC. Their offense was led by quarterback Neil O'Donnell, who completed 246 out of 416 passes for 2,970 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only 7 interceptions. Pro Bowl wide receiver Yancey Thigpen was the team's leading receiver with 85 receptions for 1,307 yards and 5 touchdowns. Other contributors in the passing game included wide receivers Andre Hastings (48 catches for 502 yards and 1 touchdown) and Ernie Mills (39 receptions for 679 yards and 8 touchdowns), who both also excelled as returners on special teams. Mills gained 1,306 yards returning kickoffs while Hastings returned 48 punts for 474 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers rushing attack was led by Erric Pegram, who recorded 813 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Bam Morris, who had 559 yards and 9 touchdowns. On special teams, newly acquired kicker Norm Johnson led the NFL in both field goals made (34) and field goals attempted (41), while also successfully making all 39 of his extra point attempts.
The 1995 Pittsburgh defense ranked second in the league in total yards allowed (4,833). Pro Bowl linebacker Kevin Greene led the team with 9 sacks, while Pro Bowl linebacker Greg Lloyd led the team with 86 tackles. The secondary was led by Pro Bowl defensive backs Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson.
The Cowboys first defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 30–11. The score was tied 3–3 into the second quarter until Dallas scored 27 consecutive points to put the game out of reach. First, Deion Sanders scored a 21-yard touchdown on an end around play. Emmitt Smith then capped off a 79-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run before halftime. Kicker Chris Boniol later scored two field goals in the third quarter, and Troy Aikman completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Michael Irvin in the final period, giving the Cowboys a commanding 30-3 lead. Meanwhile, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham was limited to just 11 of 26 completions for 161 yards and no touchdowns, with 1 interception. Philadelphia could only score a single field goal and Cunningham's meaningless 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Dallas then advanced to their fourth consecutive NFC Championship Game where they faced the Green Bay Packers, who had eliminated the San Francisco 49ers in the other NFC Divisional Playoff game. Dallas jumped to an early 14-3 lead with a pair of first quarter touchdown passes from Aikman to Irvin. But Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw 2 touchdowns to take a 17-14 lead midway through the second quarter: a 73-yard strike to wide receiver Robert Brooks and a 24-yard pass to tight end Keith Jackson. Dallas stormed right back with a Boniol field goal, and a record 99-yard drive to score on Smith's 1-yard touchdown run, giving them a 24–17 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Green Bay regained the lead with a field goal and another touchdown pass from Favre to Brooks. But Dallas scored two unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter to put the game away. A 90-yard drive was capped with Smith's second touchdown run. Then on Green Bay's ensuing drive, Larry Brown intercepted a pass from Favre and returned it 28 yards to set up Smith's third touchdown run. Smith finished the game with 150 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, while also catching 2 passes for 17 yards. Aikman threw for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns, with no interceptions. Irvin caught 7 passes for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.
For the Steelers, they started their playoff run with a 40–21 win over the Buffalo Bills. Pittsburgh dominated the Bills right from the start, building up a 23–7 halftime lead. Buffalo scored 2 touchdowns in the second half, but Bam Morris' two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter ended any thoughts of a Bills comeback. The Steelers defense limited Buffalo's Jim Kelly to just 135 passing yards and 1 touchdown, while intercepting him 3 times. Bills running back Thurman Thomas, who had rushed for 158 yards and caught 3 passes for 42 yards in Buffalo's wild card playoff win over the Miami Dolphins, was held to just 46 rushing yards and 12 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Morris rushed for 106 yards 2 touchdowns, while kicker Norm Johnson scored 4 field goals.
Pittsburgh then narrowly defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 20–16, to advance to their first Super Bowl since the 1979 season. In the second quarter, Neil O'Donnell's controversial 5-yard touchdown pass to Kordell Stewart gave Pittsburgh a 10-6 halftime lead (replays showed that Stewart stepped on the end line before making the catch, which would have made him ineligible). But after the teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter, Indianapolis quarterback Jim Harbaugh threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Floyd Turner to take a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter. The Steelers drove 67 yards on their final drive (keyed by a 4th and 3 conversion and a 37 yard pass play from O'Donnell to Ernie Mills) to score the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run by Morris with 1:34 left. However, the Colts responded by driving to the Steelers 29-yard line, and on the game's final play, Harbaugh threw a "Hail Mary" pass intended for wide receiver Aaron Bailey in the end zone. Bailey attempted to make a diving catch, but the pass was batted away at the last second by Randy Fuller and ruled incomplete.
Television and entertainment
The game was broadcast in the United States by NBC, with play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg and color commentators Phil Simms and Paul Maguire. Greg Gumbel hosted all the events with the help of then-NBC analysts Ahmad Rashad, Mike Ditka, Joe Gibbs, and Joe Montana. The Lombardi Trophy presentation for this game was the first to be held on the field instead of the winners' locker room; all subsequent trophy presentations have been held in this manner.
All three Super Bowl wins for the Cowboys in the 1990s were broadcast on NBC, who later gained majority control of its affiliate in the Dallas area, KXAS-TV.
A portion of this Super Bowl was "predicted" in the January 17, 1990 episode of another NBC series, Quantum Leap. At one point, in the episode titled, "All Americans," Al (Dean Stockwell) states that the Steelers were down by 3 points.
Following the game, NBC broadcast an hour-long episode of Friends, re-starting a trend in which the prized post-Super Bowl time slot was given to an established program. Previously, networks typically used the occasion to premiere a new show, with little success. Of the new series premiering after the Super Bowl from 1983–95, only The A-Team (NBC, after Super Bowl XVII), The Wonder Years (ABC, after XXII), and Homicide: Life on the Street (NBC, after XXVII) had lengthy runs.
Actress and singer Vanessa Williams later sang the national anthem.
Diana Ross performed during the halftime show, titled "Take Me Higher: A Celebration of 30 years of the Super Bowl". The show featured a number of her songs along with pyrotechnics, special effects and stadium card stunts. The show ended with Ross singing "Take Me Higher" from her 1995 album of the same name, and then she was taken from the field in a helicopter.
Super Bowl XXX began with Dallas wide receiver Kevin Williams returning the opening kickoff 18 yards to the 29-yard line. On Dallas' first possession Troy Aikman completed a 20-yard pass on second down to wide receiver Michael Irvin, followed by a 23-yard gain by Emmitt Smith to advance to the Pittsburgh 28-yard line. On third down and eight from the 26-yard line, Williams could only gain 2 yards on a reverse play, forcing Dallas to settle for a 42-yard Chris Boniol field goal.
On the Steelers' first possession, the Dallas defense forced a three-and-out and subsequent punt, which Cowboy cornerback Deion Sanders returned 11 yards to the 25-yard line. After 2 Smith runs, Aikman completed two quick passes, the first to Irvin for an 11 yard gain and the second to Sanders (who was brought in on offense as an extra receiver) for 47. Four plays later, Aikman completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jay Novacek (playing in what would be his last game, as Novacek missed the following season due to back injuries before retiring), increasing Dallas' lead to 10-0.
After the Steelers managed to advance to the Dallas 36-yard line on their ensuing drive, the possession fell apart due to a miscue by center Dermontti Dawson. Pittsburgh had lined up in the shotgun formation, and Dawson's snap sailed over quarterback Neil O'Donnell's head. O'Donnell managed to recover the fumble, but the Steelers were unable to recover from the 13-yard loss and had to punt 2 plays later.
After the punt, Dallas drove to the Steelers 24-yard line. However, a pass interference penalty on Irvin nullified a 24-yard touchdown reception, and moved the ball back to the 34-yard line. On the next play, Aikman completed a 19-yard pass to Novacek, bringing up second down and 1 to go from the 15-yard line. However, the Steelers defense stopped Smith for no gain on the next play, and then tackled him for a 3-yard loss on third down. Boniol then kicked a 35-yard field goal, increasing Dallas' lead to 13-0.
After an exchange of punts, Steelers wide receiver Andre Hastings returned John Jett's punt 11 yards to the Pittsburgh 46-yard line. After O'Donnell's first down pass fell incomplete, Dallas linebacker Charles Haley then sacked the Steeler quarterback for a 10-yard loss, forcing 3rd down and 20. O'Donnell's next pass was a 19-yard completion to Hastings, and then a 3-yard fourth down run by wide receiver/backup quarterback Kordell Stewart netted a first down. Nine plays later, O'Donnell threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Yancey Thigpen with just 13 seconds left in the half, cutting Pittsburgh's deficit to 13-7.
After the third quarter began with another exchange of punts, the Steelers advanced the ball to their own 48-yard line. However, on third down, Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown intercepted O'Donnell's pass at the Dallas 38-yard line and returned it 44 yards to the Pittsburgh 18-yard line. Aikman then completed a 17-yard pass to Irvin to reach the 1-yard line, setting up a 1-yard touchdown by Smith to increase Dallas' lead to 20-7.
On their next drive, the Steelers had second down and 2 on their own 47-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs after running back Bam Morris was tackled for no gain on 3 consecutive running plays: a draw play to the left, a run to the left, and one to the middle. The Steeler defense held, however, forcing Dallas into a three-and-out; after a 6-yard run by Smith and an incompletion, Aikman's third down pass was broken up by defensive back Rod Woodson (who had missed most of the season due to a knee injury), forcing the Cowboys to punt.
On their next drive, the Steelers advanced from their own 20-yard line to the Dallas 19. Dallas defensive end Tony Tolbert sacked O'Donnell on third down for a 9-yard loss, however, forcing Pittsburgh to settle for kicker Norm Johnson's 46-yard field goal with 11:20 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 20-10. On the ensuing kickoff, Pittsburgh surprised the Cowboys by executing a successful onside kick, with defensive back Deon Figures recovering the ball for Pittsburgh at their own 47-yard line. O'Donnell hit Hastings on two consecutive passes for 23 total yards. His next pass went to wide receiver Ernie Mills for 7 yards, and then Morris ran for 5 yards and caught a pass for a 6-yard gain to the Dallas 11-yard line. Three plays later, Morris scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, cutting Pittsburgh's deficit to 20-17.
With the aid of linebacker Levon Kirkland's 8-yard sack on Aikman, the Cowboys were forced to punt on their next drive and Pittsburgh regained possession of the ball at their own 32-yard line with 4:15 remaining. On second down, however, Brown intercepted another O'Donnell pass and returned it 33 yards to the Steelers' 6-yard line.
Two plays later, Smith scored once again with 3:43 left in the game, increasing the Cowboy lead to 27-17. The Steelers responded by driving to the Dallas 40-yard line, but after O'Donnell threw 4 consecutive incompletions, Pittsburgh turned the ball over on downs with 1:42 left in the game. After that, Dallas ran out most of the clock with three quarterback kneels and an intentional delay of the game penalty before punting the ball back to the Steelers. Pittsburgh regained possession of the ball with three seconds remaining, but O'Donnell's hail mary pass was intercepted by Dallas safety Brock Marion on the final play of the game.
The Steelers had outgained the Cowboys in total yards, 310-254 (201-61 in the second half) had 25 first downs compared to the Cowboys 15, and limited Dallas' powerful running attack to just 56 yards. However, they were unable to overcome O'Donnell's interceptions, which led to two Cowboy touchdowns. The irony of the game was that O'Donnell entered Super Bowl XXX as the NFL's career leader in fewest interceptions per pass attempt.
Troy Aikman finished the game with 15 out of 23 completions for 209 yards and a touchdown (Aikman became just the third quarterback to win three Super Bowls; Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana each won four). Smith was the Cowboys' leading rusher with 49 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. (Smith became just the 5th player to score a touchdown in three different Super Bowls, joining Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas and Jerry Rice; he also became the first player to rush for two touchdowns in two different Super Bowls). Irvin was Dallas' top receiver with 5 catches for 76 yards. Novacek caught 5 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Defensive end Chad Hennings recorded 2 sacks.
Although his 3 interceptions were costly, O'Donnell recorded 28 of 49 completions for 239 yards and a touchdown. Morris was the top rusher of the game with 73 yards and a touchdown, and caught 3 passes for 18 yards. Hastings was the top receiver of the game with 10 receptions for 98 yards, and returned 2 punts for 18 yards. Mills caught 8 passes for 78 yards and gained 79 yards on 4 kickoff returns, giving him 157 total yards.
Charles Haley became the first player to win 5 Super Bowls, winning two with San Francisco (XXIII and XXIV) and two previously with Dallas (XXVII and XXVIII). Barry Switzer became the second head coach, after former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, to win a college football national championship (University of Oklahoma 1974, 1975, 1985) and a Super Bowl title.
After a many-year long tradition of presenting the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the winning team in its locker room after the game, the NFL instituted an on-the-field presentation ceremony for Super Bowl XXX. This new tradition has been followed by the NFL ever since.
The outcome of the game had rather large ramifications for two soon-to-be free agents after their performances. Larry Brown, who was named Super Bowl MVP for his two interceptions, parlayed his performance into a lucrative free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. However, he was not very effective and was cut from the team after two injury-plagued seasons. Neil O'Donnell left the Steelers in the offseason and signed a long-term free agent contract with the New York Jets, accepting New York's more lucrative offer. O'Donnell's tenure in New York, like Brown's in Oakland, was plagued by injuries and ineffective play and he was released from his contract following the 1997 season. Both players finished their careers as backups, Brown returning to the Cowboys in 1998 and O'Donnell playing for the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans until his retirement in 2003.
|Kevin Williams||WR||Ernie Mills|
|Mark Tuinei||LT||John Jackson|
|Nate Newton||LG||Tom Newberry|
|Derek Kennard||C||Dermontti Dawson|
|Larry Allen||RG||Brenden Stai|
|Erik Williams||RT||Leon Searcy|
|Jay Novacek||TE||Mark Bruener|
|Michael Irvin||WR||Yancey Thigpen|
|Troy Aikman||QB||Neil O'Donnell|
|Emmitt Smith||RB||Erric Pegram|
|Daryl Johnston||FB||John L. Williams|
|Tony Tolbert||LE||Brentson Buckner|
|Leon Lett||LDT-NT||Joel Steed|
|Russell Maryland||RDT-RE||Ray Seals|
|Charles Haley||RE-LOLB||Kevin Greene|
|Dixon Edwards||LOLB-LILB||Chad Brown|
|Robert Jones||MLB-RILB||Levon Kirkland|
|Darrin Smith||ROLB||Greg Lloyd|
|Larry Brown||LCB||Carnell Lake|
|Deion Sanders||RCB||Willie Williams|
|Darren Woodson||SS||Myron Bell|
|Brock Marion||FS||Darren Perry|
- Referee: Red Cashion (#43)
- Umpire: John Keck (#67)
- Head Linesman: Paul Weidner (#87)
- Line Judge: Dale Orem (#51)
- Field Judge: Don Hakes (#96)
- Side Judge: Bill Carollo (#63)
- Back Judge: Dick Creed (#61)
- Alternate Referee: Bernie Kukar (#86)
- Alternate Umpire: Hendi Ancich (#115)
- Super Bowl XXX Barnhart, John; Ron St. Angelo. Keeping Up With the Boys: From Austin to Super Bowl XXX : The Dynasty Continues. Taylor Publishing. ISBN 0878339523. Cite error: Invalid
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- Super Bowl official website
- 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: History of the Super Bowl (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
- 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)