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In a game that climaxed with the most famous missed field goal in NFL history the New York Giants, 7-point underdogs on the betting line, upset the high-powered Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV at the Big Sombrero in Tampa for their second Super Bowl triumph.
Played amidst a wave of patriotic fervor the Bills, who led the league in scoring during the regular season, and the Giants, who allowed the fewest points, produced one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all time.
New York opened the scoring on a short Matt Bahr field goal, but the Bills quickly tied the game with a short Scott Norwood three-pointer. Buffalo then grabbed a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter on a short Don Smith run, and added to it when sack master Bruce Smith tackled Giants backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler in the end zone for a safety. But just before halftime New York drove 87 yards for a Hostetler-to-Stephen Baker touchdown, pulling the Giants to within 12-10.
New York then opened the second half with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that used up over nine minutes on the clock, culminating in an Ottis Anderson touchdown run that gave the Giants a 17-12 advantage.
The Bills regained the lead when running back Thurman Thomas, who ended up with 190 yards from scrimmage, bolted 31 yards for a score on the first play of the fourth quarter. New York responded with another long drive, going 74 yards, taking another seven minutes off the clock, retaking the lead on another short Bahr field goal.
With tension mounting, Buffalo got the ball at its own 10-yard line with just over two minutes to go, and drove to the Giants 29. With eight seconds left Norwood had a chance to become a Super Bowl hero, but his 47-yard field goal attempt – certainly no gimme - slid just outside the right upright, answering the prayers of the New York sideline.
For the game the Giants outgained Buffalo 386-371, and most importantly won the time-of-possession battle by a lopsided 41/19 margin.
Anderson, who rumbled for 102 yards on 21 carries, was named game MVP, just the fifth time through the first 25 Super Bowls a running back received the award.
The victory gave the Giants two Super Bowl victories under head coach Bill Parcells, who retired – temporarily – shortly after the game. The loss, on the other hand, was the first of four straight Super Bowl defeats for the Marv Levy-led Bills.