Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2000: One yard short

ATLANTA - Imagine being that close. Everything you've played for in your career, all the work you put in that season, all about to pay off in the ultimate way. You have the ball, you see the end zone, you stretch out the ball, and ... nothing.

To many fans, Kevin Dyson is eternally stretching, reaching, straining. His image has been shown countless times, the ultimate picture of heartbreak. Dyson should be most famous for being on the receiving end of the Music City Miracle, but somehow his name often gets forgotten when that play comes up. But nobody forgets that Kevin Dyson was the man who was tackled one yard short of the end zone on the last play of the Super Bowl.

Of course, it wasn't Dyson's fault. After all, it was Rams linebacker Mike Jones who brought him down by the ankles, making the single greatest tackle in NFL history. Jones rightfully receives all the credit for saving the Super Bowl for the Rams. But all the images of the play show Dyson, stretching the ball out in vain. All you see of Jones is his helmet, maybe his arms. You see all of Dyson, all of his heartbreak.

Jones' tackle of Dyson overshadowed what had been a brilliant final drive by the Titans. After scoring 16 straight points to tie Super Bowl XXXIV, Tennessee watched St. Louis take the lead right back in only one play, as Kurt Warner found Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown with just under 2:00 to play. From there, Steve McNair took over, leading one of the greatest drives in Super Bowl history. Continually ducking out of sacks and scrambling away from pressure, McNair willed the Titans downfield with his arm and his legs. The defining moment came on the Titans' second-to-last play of the drive, when McNair scrambled both directions in the pocked, ducked out of two sacks, then found Dyson for a first down at the 10 yard line.

The Titans had time for one more play. McNair took the snap from the shotgun, dropped back, then hit Dyson on a slant pattern. Dyson was open and made the catch with only Jones to beat. Jones won.

One yard short.

(Game highlights, including the final play, are here, since doesn't allow embedding apparently)

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