Super Bowl XXXIII Review

Super Bowl XXXIII: Broncos vs. Falcons

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Date: January 31, 1999

Site: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida

Point Spread: Denver Broncos -7/Atlanta Falcons +7

Score: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19

MVP: QB John Elway

Following the great game that was Super Bowl 32, this one wasn’t much of a contest. For Denver fans, it was great–watching the Broncos win their second superbowl and John Elway go out on top after winning the game MVP. For the general viewing public, it was a bit of a bore. Atlanta never looked like they were going to win even after assuming a fast 3-0 lead. With only 23 combined points in the first 3 quarters, the game broke open in the 4th with 30 points. But Super Bowl 1999 was all Denver.

The Falcons did a great job getting to the Super Bowl and had Dan Reeves, who had been Denver’s coach in 3 previous losing Super Bowls. Not only had he come up short in those games, but having suffered blowouts of 42-10 and 55-10 left him with the image of Super Bowl loser. That image would be preserved following Atlanta’s performance in Super Bowl 33.

Elway, though 38 and in his final season, was in fine form for most of the ’98 season. His weaponry was extensive. RB Terrell Davis put up mind-numbing stats, running for 2008 yards with 23 touchdowns. In addition to having the league MVP in the backfield, Elway had a nice pass-catching crew to work with, including a pair of 1000-yard receivers in Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey. TE Shannon Sharpe added some depth and the Broncos offense was no joke, as their 14-2 regular season record attests.


To the credit of coach Reeves, he turned around a perennially-struggling franchise in the Falcons. Some nice talent rounded into shape on both sides of the ball and under the stewardship of Reeves–impressed with a 14-2 regular-season record en route their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. Not bad for a team that had been 10-22 the previous two seasons.

The Falcons had veteran QB Chris Chandler leading the way, bolstered by the stellar play of running back Jamal Anderson with 1846 yards and a pair of 1000-yard receivers in Tony Martin and Terance Mathis. Defensively, the Falcons were among the better units in the league. Eugene Robinson and Ray Buchanan anchored a tough secondary. With Cornelius Bennett and Jessie Tuggle in the middle and a fierce line, Atlanta had a darned-good “D.”

The Falcons beat the 49ers 20-18 to advance to the NFC title game. Despite being 14-2, they scored a big upset at the Metrodome, beating the 15-1 Vikings in overtime to advance to the big game. The Broncos, meanwhile, had a much easier road to Super Bowl Sunday, beating the Dolphins 38-3 and the Jets 23-10 in the AFC title game to get a shot at their second straight Super Bowl win.

Super Bowl 32 Recap

First Half: A nice return by Atlanta special teams specialist Tim Dwight set the Falcons up with nice field position. Inside the Denver 10, the drive stalled, but a Morten Anderson field goal put them up 3-0. The way the Broncos responded was surely deflating. With almost no resistance, Elway carved up the “D” for a series of completions, capped off by FB Howard Griffin’s 1-yard touchdown run to make it 7-3.

In the second quarter, an Elway pass bounced off Shannon Sharpe and was picked off by Ronnie Bradford. Despite being down at the Denver 35-yard line, the Falcons turned it over on downs. On the Broncos’ next drive, they took it inside the Falcons’ 10-yard line before Jason Elam kicked a field goal to make it 10-7. The Falcons’ frustrations grew when after driving deep into Denver territory, Anderson missed a short field goal. Denver took the ball and wasted no time–scoring on an 80-yard Elway to Smith strike that put Denver up 17-3. A big Dwight return set the Falcons up with the short field and an Anderson kick right before halftime made it 17-6 Denver.

Second Half: The 3rd quarter saw a lot of offense, but no points scored. Missed field goals, turnovers, and miscues kept both teams off the board until early in the 4th, when a Chandler interception returned to the Atlanta 24 set up another Denver touchdown–a Griffin run from a yard out to make it 24-6.

Darrien Gordon intercepted his 2nd pass for Denver and returned it to about midfield. A catch-and-run play to Davis led to a 39-yard gain and Elway ran it in from 3 yards out to make it 31-6. With a little more than half a quarter left, Super Bowl 1999 was effectively a wrap. But Atlanta didn’t stop trying.

Dwight ran back the ensuing kickoff to make it 31-13. Denver recovered the onside kick and a mini-drive led to an Elam field goal to make it 34-13. Atlanta scored another touchdown with a little over 2 minutes in the game and made it 34-19 after missing the two-point conversion. But time was an issue and it ran out on the Falcons, making the Broncos Super Bowl 33 champions in their second straight win in the big game.

It would be the last game ever played by Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who won the game MVP award. Passing for over 300 yards, winning the big game on Super Bowl Sunday, and winning the MVP was as glorious an exit one could hope for. It left Elway with the lasting image of a winner, an image that seemed impossible only a few years before.