Super Bowl XXV Review

Super Bowl XXV Review: Giants vs. Bills

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Date: January 27, 1991

Site: Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Point Spread: Buffalo Bills -7/New York Giants +7

Score: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

MVP: RB Ottis Anderson

Again, for the second year in a row, the Super Bowl featured a team known for Super Bowl excellence in the Giants, facing a team that would end up joining the Vikings and Broncos as teams known for Super Bowl futility–the Buffalo Bills. The Giants had won Super Bowl XXI and were now back 4 years later, trying to go 2 for 2 in the big game. For the Bills, this would be their first Super Bowl berth ever, their first of 4 straight Super Bowl appearances, for which they were 0-4.

But this was supposed to be Buffalo’s year. Favored by a touchdown, the Bills led the league in points scored. QB Jim Kelly was the league’s leading passer and had all the weapons a QB could ask for–two great receivers in Andre Reed and James Lofton, aided by a very good back in Thurman Thomas, who ran for 1297 yards and caught 49 balls.

Defensively, Buffalo was awfully tough. Defensive end Bruce Smith (19.5 sacks) was in his prime, backed up by a fierce linebacking corps with Darryl Talley and Cornelius Bennett. With a great “D” and a no-huddle offense, opposing teams found the Bills to be a handful, as Buffalo forged to a 13-3 record.


The Giants had some issues. Defensively, they were not the team people had seen 5 years earlier. But their offense made up for it, allowing the Giants to finish 13-3. But when QB Phil Simms went down with an injury, the picture was not rosy. Back-up QB Jeff Hostetler stepped in and despite limited experience, filled in quite nicely.

Super Bowl 1991 was a good game, a close affair–unlike many past Super Bowls. In fact, 6 of the previous 7 Super Bowls were blowouts almost devoid of suspense. This game, however, came down to a last-second field goal, missed by game goat Scott Norwood. To get to the Super Bowl, the Giants beat the Bears 31-3. In the NFC title game, they upset San Francisco 15-13, in a game where the Giants defense started to round into shape. The Bills, meanwhile, beat Miami 44-34, before crushing the Raiders 51-3 in the AFC title game.

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First Half: The Giants continued doing what suited them so well during the regular season–long drives that kept opposing offenses off the field. On their first drive, the Giants ate up over 6 minutes, leading to a field goal by Matt Bahr to go up 3-0. The Bills came right back and a big pass play to James Lofton led to a Scott Norwood chip-shot to even the score at 3-3.

After completing 6 straight passes, Jim Kelly capped off an efficient-looking drive with a short touchdown run to send the Bills up 10-3 in the second quarter. The Bills would later pin the Giants deep in their own territory, leading to Bruce Smith sacking Hostetler in the end zone for a safety to make it 12-3. Hostetler answered by leading the Giants on a nice drive, featuring quick passes. With under 30 seconds in the half, Hostetler connected with WR Stephen Baker from 14 yards out to make it 12-10 going into the half.

Second Half: The Giants kept the good momentum going to open the half with a long 14-play drive that was capped off with Ottis Anderson, who won the game MVP, running it in from a yard out to make it 17-12. Buffalo answered with a quick drive. When Thurman Thomas exploded 31 yards for a touchdown early in the 4th, Buffalo resumed control with a 19-17 lead. But New York took control of the clock, eating off a huge chunk of time with another 14-play drive that culminated in a Bahr field goal to make it 20-19, Giants.

The Bills were forced to punt, but held the Giants’ offense in check, getting the ball back with a little over two minutes remaining. Kelly did his job and worked his magic to get the Bills in scoring position on the Giants’ 29. In came Scott Norwood for a 47-yard field goal attempt, which sailed right, giving the Giants their second Super Bowl win.

This would be the Bills best chance to win on Super Bowl Sunday, but they came up short. Ottis Anderson, who ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown was the game MVP. Coach Bill Parcells retired on top and in an interesting sideline story, two Giants’ assistant coaches, Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick would be opposing coaches in two subsequent Super Bowls.