St. Petersburg Times: Super Bowl XXXV
St. Petesburg Times
Super Bowl XXXV Tampa, Florida 2001
The game
Giants
vs. Ravens
Game time: 6 p.m.
Raymond James
Stadium
Tampa, Fla.
Special links
Times home page
Super Bowl XXXV: the preview
Super Bowl XXXV: the game
Super Bowl XXXV: the postgame
AP coverage
Hubert Mizell
Gary Shelton
Darrell Fry
St. Petersburg
Times Sports
Experience Gasparilla
Official Super Bowl site
Baltimore Sun
Washington Post
Newsday (L.I.)
New York
Daily News
New York Times
Bergen (N.J.)
Record
Interactive
Forums: Follow your team at our message boards
Bucs Forum: home of the infamous Armchair QB board.
Times sites
Raymond James Stadium
College football
Visiting from
out of state?
Plan your stay in Tampa Bay:
Arrange airfare, hotel, car rentals and golf
Area restaurant guide
Hitting the bricks
in Ybor City:
Bars and clubs, events and cigars
A guide to the Tampa Bay area:
Beaches, theme parks and zoos
Hot off The Wire
  • Grieb Leads SaberCats to Slay Gladiators
  • Desperados Defeat Rattlers 65-64 in OT
  • Predators Steamroll Over Dragons 72-56
  • Force Becomes Irresistable Vs. Avengers
  • The Road to Super Bowl XXXV

    printer version

    NFL plunged into greatness

    The pro league went from diversion to pastime with the 1958 NFL Championship.

    [AP (1958)]
    The final play of the most important game in NFL history: Colts back Alan Ameche runs through a gaping hole for a 1-yard touchdown..

    By JOHN ROMANO

    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001


    The National Football League was created in 1922. More than 36 years later, on Dec. 28, 1958, it came to life.

    It was the Sunday after Christmas on a cold, cloudy day in New York. In baseball's most famed park, Yankee Stadium, professional football made its first real imprint on America.

    The Baltimore Colts met the New York Giants in the NFL Championship, mirroring the cities in Sunday's Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium. The Colts would win 23-17, but the NFL would reap most of the rewards.

    A dozen Hall of Famers played in that game. Three more were on the sidelines coaching. It was the first overtime game in regular or post-season history in the NFL. Lenny Moore broke a rib and Gino Marchetti broke an ankle. As America watched in fascination on NBC, network executives began to realize the potential for the NFL on television.

    "I think that particular game accelerated football into what it's become now," Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas said during celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the game in 1998.

    Many participants agree the game was not the greatest ever played. It was just the most important.

    Because of the setting, the time of year, the individuals involved and the dramatic outcome, it caught America's fancy. And for the first time, the NFL began to intrude on baseball's turf as the nation's pastime.

    The Colts had the league's best offense and the Giants had the top defense. Baltimore had a 14-3 lead in the third quarter, but New York scored a pair of touchdowns to go up 17-14 in the final minutes.

    The Giants were trying to run down the clock when Frank Gifford went around end on third and 4. Gifford, to this day, swears he made the first down easily. But the play ended in confusion with Marchetti breaking his ankle while making the tackle. When officials spotted the ball, the Giants were short.

    New York punted and the Colts took over from their 14 with about two minutes remaining. Unitas hit Moore for 11 yards. He went to Raymond Berry on passes of 25, 15 and 22. A Steve Myhra field goal tied the score as time ran out. Overtime was not in the NFL rulebook during the regular season and the situation had never before arisen in the post-season.

    When the logistics were sorted out, the Giants received the kickoff and went three-and-out. Back on the field, Unitas drove the Colts to the 1-yard line where Alan Ameche scored the winner over right tackle.

    "The longer I live," Berry said in 1998, "the more amazed I am by what an absolutely special time it was."

    -- Researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

    Greatness begets greatness

    Hall of Famers who participated in the 1958 NFL Championship Game:

    (Player, Team, Pos, Inducted)

    Raymond Berry, Colts, WR, 1973

    Roosevelt Brown, Giants,T, 1975

    Art Donovan, Colts, DT, 1968

    Frank Gifford, Giants,HB, 1977

    Sam Huff, Giants, LB, 1982

    Gino Marchetti, Colts, DE, 1972

    Don Maynard, Giants, WR, 1987

    Lenny Moore, Colts, RB, 1975

    Jim Parker, Colts, T/G, 1973

    Andy Robustelli, Giants, DE, 1971

    Emlen Tunnell, Giants, S, 1967

    Johnny Unitas, Colts, QB, 1979

    * * *

    (Coach, Team, Title, Inducted)

    Weeb Ewbank, Colts, Head, 1978

    Tom Landry, Giants, Asst, 1990

    Vince Lombardi, Giants, Asst, 1971

    Today's Super Bowl story lineup

    Back to Super Bowl 2001
    Back to Top
    © Copyright 2000 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.  

    TampaBay.com