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Quarterback Phil Simms set a new Super Bowl record for passing accuracy by hitting on 22 of 25 throws, including three for scores, as the New York Giants won their first Lombardi Trophy, beating the Denver Broncos 39-20 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The victory capped off a 17-2 season for the Giants, and a three-game postseason in which their defense, led by league MVP Lawrence Taylor, allowed a total of 23 points.
New York covered the Super Bowl XXI spread as a nine-point favorite, and the game played OVER its total of 40.
Denver, which was also looking for its first Super Bowl title, led 10-9 at halftime, but that advantage would have been greater had the Broncos not come up scoreless on a first-and-goal situation from the Giants' one-yard line early in the second quarter.
New York then opened the second half by using a fake punt to keep a drive alive, leading to a Simms-to-Mark Bavaro touchdown pass and a 16-10 Giants lead, one they would not relinquish. New York increased the lead to 19-10 on a Raul Allegre field goal, to 26-10 on a short Joe Morris touchdown run, and to 33-10 on another Simms TD pass that bounced off Bavaro in the end zone into the hands of ex-Navy man Phil McConkey.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock Giants linebacker Harry Carson, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, doused New York head coach Bill Parcells with a bucket of Gatorade, establishing a Super Bowl tradition that continues to this day.
The Giants only outgained the Broncos on the day 399-372, but outrushed them 136-52 and won time of possession by a 35/25 margin.
Simms was named the game MVP, the 11th time through the first 21 Super Bowls the award went to a quarterback.
The New York victory was the third in what turned out to be a string of 13 consecutive Super Bowl titles for the NFC. The Giants also contributed victory No. 7 in that streak, their thrilling 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills four years later.
Denver and John Elway would go on to lose Super Bowl XXII the following season to the Washington Redskins, and Super Bowl XXIV to the San Francisco 49ers. Elway and the Broncos would finally break through and win back-to-back Super Bowl titles a decade after losing Super Bowl XXI to New York.