Super Bowl XXXII Review

Super Bowl XXXII Review: Broncos vs. Packers

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Date: January 25, 1998

Site: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

Point Spread: Green Bay Packers -12/Denver Broncos +12

Score: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24

MVP: RB Terrell Davis

For the Broncos, Super Bowl XXXII meant redemption. Stuck
in Super Bowl infamy with the Vikings and Bills as the only team to lose
in the big game 4 times, Denver rose from the ashes. With two consecutive
Super Bowl wins, they forged an image of a winning franchise, rather than
the Super Bowl laughingstock they had previously been perceived as. In their
four previous superbowl games, Denver had been outscored 163-50.

In winning their first Super Bowl, the Broncos had to buck the odds–overcoming the Packers as 12-point underdogs. John Elway, the losing QB in 3 of those bowls, was now 37. Though a little more rickety, his past failures had galvanized his resolve to set the record straight. His offensive weapons were a little more robust than in the 80’s–namely RB Terrell Davis, with over 1700 yards rushing and 42 receptions. Tight End Shannon Sharpe and WR Rod Smith were both over 1000 yards and WR Ed McCaffrey was also a clutch performer. Defensively, they were rounding into shape. The line was formidable with Neil Smith and Alfred Williams. Bill Romanowski was tough in the middle and a good secondary featured veteran Steve Atwater and Darrien Gordon.


Their test was a tough one with the 13-3 Packers, the defending Super Bowl Champions. Favre, who won his 3rd NFL MVP award, threw for almost 4000 yards and 35 touchdowns. Dorsey Levens had established himself as the main back with 1435 yards and 53 catches. Receivers Antonio Freeman and Robert Brooks were both over 1000 yards. Defensively, Reggie White was still terrorizing offenses. With a tough and hard-hitting secondary featuring Darren Sharper, LeRoy Butler, Mike Prior, and Eugene Robinson, Green Bay looked prime to repeat.

The Broncos got into the playoffs as a wild card team and needed to win 3 playoff games to get into the big game. The Jacksonville Jaguars lost by the score of 42-17, before the Broncos beat the Chiefs 14-10. In the AFC title game, they beat the Steelers 24-21 to get to Super Bowl Sunday. The Packers beat the Buccaneers 21-7, before winning the NFC Championship 23-10 over the 49ers to get into Super Bowl 32.

Super Bowl 32 Recap

First Half: Green Bay looked good on their opening drive. Some Dorsey Levens runs and an Antonio Freeman completion got the Packers close. Freeman caught a 22-yard pass to put the Packers up 7-0. But unlike past Super Bowl Broncos teams, this one kept answering the call. A big Davis run got them close and a few plays later, he ran it in from the 1 to even the score at 7-7.

Later in the first, Denver DB Tyrone Braxton picked Favre off at about midfield. Game MVP Davis made some key runs to get Denver in the red zone. When Elway ran it in from the 1 to give Denver the lead 14-7, Green Bay knew they were in a game. Later in the second quarter, Favre fumbled the ball after a hit by Atwater. Neil Smith recovered it at the Green Bay 33-yard line. The Packers “D” held firm, holding Denver to a long field goal attempt. Nevertheless, Jason Elam connected from 51 yards out to make it 17-7.

About halfway through the second, the Packers got the ball deep in their own territory. Undaunted, Favre led his team on a long 17-play drive, capped off by a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Chmura to make it 17-14 Denver going into the second half.

Second Half: A Davis fumble on Denver’s first drive of the first half led to a Green Bay field goal to even the score at 17-17. Green Bay managed to pit Denver deep in the end of their own field. It led to the most memorable drive in the history of the Broncos. The 92-yard drive was aided by a clutch 36-yard catch by McCaffrey. Later in the drive, Elway registered his most heroic play. On 3rd and 8, Elway scrambled for the first down in the “Helicopter Play” when two Packers’ defenders made the Denver field general spin sideways in the air. It was a game-defining moment. Davis took it in from the 1 to make it 24-17.

But nothing is easy for the Broncos. Elway got picked off by Robinson and Green Bay went on a quick-strike drive. They drove 85 yards in 4 plays, with Antonio Freeman doing most of the damage, including the 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-24. later in the 4th quarter, Green Bay was forced to punt from deep, which set Denver up for the go-ahead score. With under 2 minutes left, Davis ran it from a yard out to send Denver up 31-24. Davis, the game MVP, had shined back home in his old stomping grounds of San Diego–running for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Green Bay gave Denver fans a good sweat, even advancing to the Denver 35 before turning it over on downs. Denver then ran out the clock, making Super Bowl 1998 their shining moment. The following year, Denver would repeat as Super Bowl Champions, in addition to sending Elway into retirement on the perfect note. But Super Bowl XXXII was a great game–one of the best Super Bowls of all-time and the high-water mark for the Denver Broncos.