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After a long string of non-competitive Super Bowls the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans came up with a thriller that ended when St. Louis linebacker Mike Jones took down Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson at the one-yard line on the last play of the game, preserving a 23-16 Rams victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
St. Louis, a seven-point favorite, pushed the Super Bowl XXXIII spread, and the game played UNDER its total of 48.
The Rams began the 1999 season as a 200/1 longshot to win the Super Bowl. But powered by an offense that became known as the “Greatest Show on Turf,” St. Louis went 13-3 during the regular season, then beat Minnesota and Tampa Bay in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history, the first time since the team moved from Los Angeles.
Tennessee also went 13-3 during the regular season, but that was only good for a Wild Card berth in the AFC. The Titans then knocked off Buffalo (in the Music City Miracle), Indianapolis and Jacksonville to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, in just their third season after moving to Nashville from Houston, where they played 37 seasons as the Oilers.
The Rams dominated the first half of Super Bowl XXXIII statistically, but could only come up with three field goals. The Titans, however, couldn't come up with anything, and the game went to halftime with St. Louis ahead 9-0.
The Rams stretched that advantage to 16-0 midway through the third quarter on a Kurt Warner-to-Torry Holt scoring pass. But the Titans finally responded, driving 66 yards to a short Eddie George score, then forced a punt and drove 79 yards to another George touchdown, getting Tennessee to within 16-13.
And when Al Del Greco hit a 43-yard field goal with just over two minutes to go the Titans had tied the game at 16-16.
But on the first play of the Rams' next possession Warner hit Isaac Bruce on a long out, and with a juke and a sprint Bruce was in for a 73-yard score, putting the Rams up 23-16.
Tennessee then drove from its own 12-yard line to the St. Louis 10 with six seconds on the clock, but came up one yard short of forcing the first-ever Super Bowl overtime period.
The victory gave Rams head coach Dick Vermeil redemption, after losing Super Bowl XV 19 years earlier with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Warner, the former starting quarterback at Northern Iowa and professionally for the Arena League's Iowa Barnstormers, was named the game's MVP, the 18th time through the first 34 Super Bowls a quarterback won the award.
St. Louis returned to the Super Bowl two seasons later, but fell upset victim to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Tennessee, meanwhile, has yet to return to the Super Bowl.