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Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016 NASCAR Preview

The Daytona 500 is in the rearview mirror.  The Sprint Cup series is headed on to Atlanta and normalcy.  Now that the Daytona dust and confetti have settled, it is time for the Banshee Sports 2016 NASCAR preview.

Here are five things to watch for in the 2016 NASCAR season.

Talladega restart wreck
New Rules for NASCAR.  This blog has taken a lot of shots at NASCAR for their rules and officiating.  In the wake of several controversial endings to races in 2015, NASCAR has changed two key rules.  The first big change actually started near the end of last season after several controversial restarts.  That involves the institution of restart zones.  I won't bore you here with all the particulars.  If you want them, read up here.  The point is that NASCAR is trying to actually have something in writing to govern late race restarts that will reduce gamesmanship by front row cars and judgement calls by NASCAR officials.

The other major rules change has to do with overtime.  The Green-White-Checkers rules have been drastically altered in order to correct the debacle that occurred at the end of last year's fall race in Talladega.  From here on out, there will only be one attempt at GWC finishes, but there are now some actual rules governing what constitutes a real attempt at a restart.  Those rules differ from track to track, but there are now lines on the raceway that determine when a real restart has occurred.  Again, this is a step in the right direction in terms of removing arbitrary judgement calls from NASCAR officials.

SHR heats up the Chevy-Ford rivalry
Stewart-Haas Turmoil.  It appears that I could pencil this heading in for the preview every year.  Last season, I had a similar heading, but it involved a whole different set of variables.  This year, SHR has taken chaos it to a whole new level.  Heading into the season, we already knew that Danica Patrick would be breaking in a new sponsor after Go Daddy decided to get out of the sport.  We also knew that this was supposed to be Tony Stewart's final year behind the wheel.  Then the bombshells really started to drop.

First, Tony Stewart suffered a freak injury while riding an ATV in the offseason.  Stewart didn't actually wreck, but he sustained a ruptured vertebra in his back.  Smoke missed Daytona and even now there is no timetable for his return to the #14.  But, evidently the injury didn't stop Stewart from making some huge changes on the business side of the team.  Following Daytona, SHR announced that they would be leaving Chevy and joining Ford for the 2017 season.  This ruffled the feathers of fans of both manufacturers.  But, more importantly, the announcement will have repercussions for many other teams in the series as financial and equipment partnerships will have to change.  It will be interesting to see if this announcement affects the on-track performance of SHR this season.  I will also be interesting to see if the ripple effect impacts other teams this season.

Chase Elliott debuted on the pole at Daytona
Changing of the Guard.  For the first time in over 20 years, there will be a new driver in the #24 at Hendrick Motor Sports.  Jeff Gordon has retired.  Enter Chase Elliott.  Elliott proved he had financial value when he brought NAPA with him as a sponsor to Junior Motorsports.  Then Elliott proved his driving skills when he won the Nationwide Series Championship for JRM in 2014.  Unlike fellow rookie Chris Buescher who has to be the face of Front Row Motor Sports, Elliott will have the vast Hendrick resources behind him as he joins a stable of drivers that already includes Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kasey Kahne.  It is not at all unreasonable to expect Elliott to compete for a spot in the Chase his rookie season.

Return of the Wood Brothers.  The Wood Brothers have been involved in racing for 66 years, and some of the most famous names in NASCAR have driven for the team at one time or another.  However, it has been ten years since the Wood Brothers had a full time driver eligible to compete for a series championship.  This year, the Wood Brothers make their return to championship competition with Ryan Blaney driving the #21 Ford.  Blaney had a couple of top-ten finishes last year while running a partial Sprint Cup schedule.  While it is unlikely that this single-team operation will make the Chase, it is fun to have the #21 and the Wood Brothers back in the discussion.

Kyle Busch wins 2015 championship for JGR
JGR Juggernaut.  In the early 2000's, Joe Gibbs Racing gobbled up three championships in five years.  In 2015, JGR returned to championship form when Kyle Busch came back from injury to win the Chase.  But, it wasn't just Kyle Busch who had a good season.  Three of the four JGR teams qualified for the Chase with the fourth team narrowly missing out.  As we move into 2016, it looks like JGR has picked up right where they left off.  They started the season with a victory by Denny Hamlin at Daytona and strong finishes by the rest of the group.  It's important not to read too much into a single race, but this team could definitely get four drivers into the sixteen-car Chase.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Day Two

The 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show wrapped up on Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden.  Before the coveted title of Best in Show was bestowed, the best in group titles were handed out in the SportingWorking and Terrier groups.

samoyed westminster dog show
Bogey in his "natural" habitat
Sporting Group:  If there was a blue blood, country club of dog show groups, that group would be the sporting group.  This is the group that includes retrievers and setters and spaniels.  You know, the kinds of dogs that are painted on canvases in the Vanderbilts' billiards rooms.  CJ the German Shorthaired Pointer fits that part exactly and won the group.

Working Group:  The working group can be described as the blue collar, lunch pail group.  This group does include rough and tumble guard dogs, but it was a gorgeous, fluffy dog that won the group this year.  Bogey became the first Samoyed to ever win the group at Westminster.  It was fitting for a sled dog to succeed after snow and sleet pelted Manhattan during the dog show.

Terrier Group:  The terrier group has been my favorite group at Westminster ever since Coco the Norwich Terrier captured my heart over a decade ago.  I also love this breed because I consistently get labeled a terrier on Facebook quizzes.  Last year's group winner, Charlie, was back to defend his title.  And defend it he did.  Charlie the Skye Terrier advanced to the Best in Show competition for the second year in a row.

Best in Show:  Last year's Best in Show winner, Miss P, the 15-inch Beagle retired on top last year to start a family.  That left the competition wide open for the seven group winners in 2016.  Terriers have won more best in show prizes at Westminster than any other group, and Charlie was the only dog with previous best in show competition experience at Westminster.  But this year's top prize went a true blue blood.  CJ, the German Shorthaired Pointer, took home the top prize and won  the prestigious title of Best in Show at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

CJ celebrates Best in Show at Westminster

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Day One Recap

It was a nasty day in New York City, but neither snow nor sleet nor dark of night would keep the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from getting under way.  On the first day of competition, Best in Group was awarded in the HoundToyNon-Sporting and Herding groups.  And, in at least one group, there was a major upset.

WKC 2016
Panda the Shih Tzu
Hound Group:  This group brings a smile to my face every year.  All of the dogs in this group are bred for hunting, but they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  I find it hilarious that the enormous Scottish Deerhound is in direct competition with short-legged Dachshund.  Last year's best in show winner, Miss P. the 15-inch beagle, came from this group.  Miss P. did not come back to defend her title because she has retired to have puppies, so that left the group wide open for a new winner.  Lucy, a Borzoi hailing from Japan captured the crown and advanced on to Tuesday night's best in show competition.

Toy Group:  The groups at Westminster are divided according to the purpose for which the dogs are bred.  The dogs in the toy group are bred specifically to be companion animals.  In other words, these are lap dogs, pure and simple.  As such, this group has some of the smallest and most pampered pooches in the competition.  Unlike last year, the judge chose perhaps the most photogenic dog of the bunch when he selected Panda the Shih Tzu as best in group.  Panda added to the international flavor of the show since she hails from Canada.

2016 WKC Dog Show
Annabelle the Bulldog
Non-Sporting Group:  The third group to take the ring on Monday night was the Non-Sporting group.  This group truly is a hodge-podge of breeds.  This group has been summarized by stating that "the only thing the dogs in the non-sporting group have in common is that they don't have enough in common with the breeds of any other group."  This group does contain some very recognizable breeds, however, including the Dalmation, the Bichons Frise and the Boston Terrier.  It was the crowd favorite Annabelle the Bulldog who advanced to the best in show round.

Herding Group:  The dogs in the herding group are bred to assist man in keeping farm animals in line.  As such, these dogs are intelligent and athletic.  This year, the herding group at Westminster included four new breeds.  But it was an iconic breed that took home the title of best in group.  Rumor the German Shepherd took home the best in group prize.  A dog from the herding group has not won best in show since 1987, but it was a German Shepherd who accomplished that feat nearly 30 years ago.  Rumor looks to break the drought on Tuesday night.

Coverage of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will resume on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. EST on USA.  The evening's events will begin with the Best in Group competitions for the SportingWorking and Terrier groups.  The evening will end with the crowing of the prestigious award for Best in Show.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Anniversary Flashback: Presidential Basketball Program

Much like the Banshee, President Obama's basketball
skills don't match up with his love of the game.
The 5th anniversary celebration of Banshee Sports continues.  Each month, I will be selecting a post from the past to bring back for old times sake.  Choosing February's piece turned out to be a hard task.  Despite being the shortest month of the year, several of my favorite posts of all time have been posted in February.

When I posted my arguments in favor of the Colts parting ways with Peyton Manning in 2012, I was very proud of that piece.  The sports movie list from 2013 was a labor of love that was several weeks in the making.  I was also very passionate about my 2013 take on the mythical stature of Michael Jordan.

But, after consulting with a core group of close advisors, I settled on a selection that sets Banshee Sports apart from the rest of the sports blog world.  As I stated in my very first post on this blog, Banshee Sports was never intended to be the go-to site for in-depth analysis of the Tampa 2 defense.  Banshee Sports is at its best when it combines a little bit of history and a little bit of humor with its sports.

This President's Day post from 2014 does exactly that.  Although, in hindsight, I did not give proper weight to team chemistry when I wrote this post.  I was so excited to write about President Taft getting stuck in his bathtub that I forgot that he and Teddy Roosevelt could not really play well together after the Bull Moose Party debacle and the Presidential election of 1912.  Nonetheless, this is still a fun read.

Presidential Basketball Program

President's Day is upon us.  Naturally, this got me thinking about what American Presidents would make up a successful college basketball program.  It takes more than just the guys on court to have a successful program, so this post is going to give you a breakdown of everything from athletic directors to coaches to boosters Click here to continue reading.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Prediction

Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos.  February 7, 2016 at 6:30 EST on CBS.  The most predominant storyline heading into Super Bowl 50 is the rising star of Cam Newton against the fading light of hall of famer Peyton Manning.  But, football is the ultimate team game.  So simple narratives rarely tell the whole story.  That is why a prediction column is necessary.

How they got here.  Before the season, the Carolina Panthers were not picked by many people to make the Super Bowl, but they finished the regular season with an stunning 15-1 record.  The Panthers' only loss came in a meaningless game on December 27 at the arch rival Atlanta Falcons.  During the playoffs, the Panthers faced what many perceived to be the two most dangerous challengers in the conference in the Seahawks and the Cardinals.  The Panthers beat the Seahawks 31-24 after getting off to a huge lead in the first half.  The Panthers then demolished the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 49-15 to earn a place in the Super Bowl.

The Denver Broncos finished the regular season with a 12-4 record.  All four of their losses came down the stretch in November and December, but Brock Osweiler and not Peyton Manning was the starting quarterback for three of those four defeats.  The Broncos also beat the experts' two favorite teams to win the AFC when they topped the Steelers and the Patriots.  Unlike the Panthers, the Broncos needed brilliant performances in clutch moments to advance past both opponents and reach the Super Bowl.

Offensive breakdown.  For most of Manning's career, when his teams advanced deep into the playoffs, the questions were about the defense and not the offense.  That is not the case this year.  The Denver Broncos are right in the middle of the pack in most meaningful offensive categories and are 19th in scoring offense.  The Panthers, on the other hand, are the most prolific scoring team in the league.  The Panthers score all those points thanks to a dominant rushing attack that includes both their running backs and Cam Newton.

Defensive Breakdown.  Heading into the Super Bowl, the game has been framed as the Broncos' top ranked defense squaring off against the Panthers' top ranked offense.  What gets lost in that narrative is the fact that the Panthers have a superb defense themselves.  The Broncos defense is ranked first in terms of yards per game, but they are just 4th in terms of scoring.  The Panthers are 6th in scoring defense.  In my book, that is pretty much a wash.

Intangibles.  Although I downplayed the importance of the quarterback matchup at the start of this column, there is no denying that the quarterback story is a compelling one.  Will the youthful enthusiasm of Cam Newton prevail or will it be the stoic seriousness of Peyton Manning?

Although there has not been an official announcement, it is widely believed that win or lose, this will by Peyton Manning's "last rodeo."  If the Broncos were to prevail, it would not be the first time they sent a legendary quarterback into retirement with a Super Bowl victory.  But, if the Broncos do win this game, it will most likely not be because of Manning's arm.  Manning's mind and his team's running game and defense will have to be the keys to a victory.

Experience certainly does count.  But, even at his young age, Cam Newton has already been battle tested in the crucible of SEC football and in a national championship game in college.  The game will not be too big for the Panthers' quarterback.

Prediction.  At most betting establishments, the Carolina Panthers are favored by six points over the Denver Broncos.  It is important to remember that betting lines are not actually predictions.  They are established to create equal wagering on both teams.  Nonetheless, there are favorites for a reason.  Since 2000, teams that have been favored by more than a field goal have gone 7-4 in the Super Bowl. I expect that trend to continue in Super Bowl 50.

Weighing in the Broncos favor is the strength of schedule this season.  Playing in the AFC West, the Broncos faced stiffer competition than the Panthers did in the NFC South.  But, the only thing a team can do is beat the teams that are put in front of them.  The Panthers did that all but once this year.  Both teams played the top teams in their conference in the playoffs.  The Broncos beat those teams.  The Panthers put on clinics.

The Panthers are a very different team than the Patriots for two reasons.  The first difference is the rushing game.  The Broncos unleashed a punishing pass rush against the Patriots because they did not have to fear a rushing attack.  That won't be the case against the Panthers.  The other huge difference is the fact that Cam Newton is ... well ... huge.  When the Broncos rush Newton, they will be meeting a guy their own size in the backfield.  Newton will be able to turn otherwise successful blitzes into a few big gains.

In order for the Broncos to win this game, they will need to play a nearly perfect game on both sides of the ball.  They are capable of doing that, but the chances are slim.  In the end, the Panthers' defense will be the deciding factor in the game.  As the game wears on, the Panthers will gain momentum and become like a snowball rolling downhill.

I predict the Panthers will win this game by a score of 38-17.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments: Top 10

The big game is nearly here.  For two weeks, Banshee Sports has been celebrating Super Bowl 50 by counting down the 50 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments.  It is finally time to unveil the top 10 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments.

Wardrobe Malfunction
10.  The Runaway Diesel.  Ten years after the 1972 Dolphins capped off their perfect season by defeating the Redskins in Super Bowl VII, the two teams squared off for a rematch in Super Bowl XVII.  Trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter, the Redskins faced a fourth and one from the Dolphins' 43-yard line.  Head coach Joe Gibbs chose to go for it.  Quarterback Joe Theismann handed the ball to John Riggins.  The legendary hogs offensive line opened up a hole and The Diesel rumbled forty yards for the go-ahead touchdown.  The Redskins would eventually tack on another score to win the franchise's first Super Bowl by a score of 27-17.

9.  Wardrobe Malfunction.  For dedicated football fans, Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Patriots and the Panthers is best remembered for Adam Vinatieri's game winning field goal with four seconds to play in the game.  But, for most Americans it was Janet Jackson's exposed breast that was the lasting image from this game.  At the end of halftime's final dance sequence, Justin Timberlake placed his hand on Janet Jackson's chest and pulled away the fabric.  We will never know if this was an intentional publicity stunt or whether it was truly a "wardrobe malfunction" as the performers claimed.  We do know that network TV was forever changed by the event.

8.  Montana to Taylor.  The San Francisco 49ers trailed the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13 with just 3:20 remaining in Super Bowl XXIII when they got the ball on their own eight yard line.  Joe Montana proceeded to lead his offense on an 11-play drive that used up nearly all of the remaining time on the clock.  With just 34 seconds remaining, Montana connected with John Taylor on a 10-yard touchdown pass.  The dramatic victory made the 49ers the first NFC team to win three Super Bowl titles.

7.  Going Out on Top.  John Elway had an outstanding career from start to finish, but his legacy changed dramatically in his final two seasons.  In Super Bowl XXXII, Elway got his first ring.  In Super Bowl XXXIII, he became a legend by winning his second championship in the final game of his career.  In this game, Elway didn't just manage his team to a title.  Elway propelled his team to a 34-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons and earned a Super Bowl MVP along the way.

6.  Gulf War Anthem.  Super Bowl XXV in Tampa was special from start to finish.  The game itself was worthy of a top-five place on this countdown, but the historic tone of the game was set at the singing of the National Anthem.  This game was played in January of 1991, shortly after the start of the first Gulf War.  With the nation at war, there was an enhanced sense of danger and heightened security in the stadium that the nation was not accustomed to in the pre-9/11 world.  When Whitney Houston took the stage, there were no bells and no whistles.  Just the purity of her voice and unadulterated patriotism.

5.  Goal Line Interception.  It is hard to put recent events into their proper place in history.  The temptation is always to view those things that are most fresh in our minds as the greatest or the best.  To counteract that tendency, I pushed this moment from Super Bowl XLIX further back on this countdown.  Fortunately, the wise advisors who contributed to the final list put this moment into its proper perspective.  When the Seattle Seahawks had the ball second and goal on the one yard line with 30 seconds to play and a timeout in their pocket, it seemed all but certain that they would punch it in to win their second straight Super Bowl.  But, instead of pounding the ball with Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks called a pass play.  Malcolm Butler, an unheralded Patriots cornerback, stepped in front of Russell Wilson's pass and sealed a victory with a goal line  interception.  Although much of the postgame focus was on the Seahawks' play calling, Butler deserves his due for making one of the great defensive plays in the history of the Super Bowl.

Scott Norwood in despair
4.  Wide Right.  The Buffalo Bills' big game struggles have already made several appearances in this countdown.  The first of the Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl losses came in Super Bowl XXV against the New York Giants.  This game was one of the most heartbreaking losses in Super Bowl history.  As with other fanbases in the Rust Belt, being a Bills fan takes a special kind of dedication.  When Scott Norwood lined up to kick a 47-yard field goal with just seconds remaining in the game, it appeared that Bills fans were finally going to get a reward for all of their devotion.  But, the kick sailed wide right.  The New York Giants won their second Super Bowl in five years, and the Bills started down a path of heartbreak.

3.  Stopped Short.  When you think of NFL history, the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans are not franchises that come immediately to mind.  Nonetheless, when these two teams squared off in Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome, they delivered one of the most dramatic finishes in Super Bowl history.  Kurt Warner and his St. Louis offense were known as "The Greatest Show on Turf," but it was the defense that ultimately sealed the victory for the Rams.  The Tennessee Titans trailed by a score of 23-16, but they had the ball at the 10 yard line with six seconds remaining.  Steve McNair completed a slant pass to Kevin Dyson who was headed towards the end zone.  Then Mike Jones grabbed Dyson and dragged him down inches short of the goal line and a tying score as time expired.  

2.  Namath Guarantee.    The 1966 season was the first season where the NFL champion met the AFL champion in what was to become known as the Super Bowl.  In the early days of the game, the NFC was considered to be the dominant league and winning the title game was deemed to be merely a formality.  The NFC's Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls by convincing margins.  Then Joe Namath boldly declared that his AFC champion New York Jets would win Super Bowl III over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.  Namath was true to his word.  The Jets delivered a 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts and cemented Broadway Joe's place in NFL history. 

1.  A Giant Catch.  We have reached the #1 spot in the Banshee Sports Super Bowl Countdown.    It may seem hard to believe that the top moment in Super Bowl history would have come in the last few years, but David Tyree's "Helmet Catch" in Super Bowl XLII was an example of athletic excellence that truly captured America's imagination.  Heading into Super Bowl XLII, the New England Patriots had a perfect, undefeated record.  The Super Bowl and the New York Giants were the only thing standing between the Patriots and immortality.  And then Eli Manning and David Tyree combined for a super human Super Bowl effort.  The "Helmet Catch" kept the Giants' desperate, final drive alive, and allowed the Giants to clinch a victory in Super Bowl XLII.  It wasn't just the acrobatic catch that made this play special.  It was Manning's scramble and escape.  And, it was the moment and the opponent that elevated this play into the top spot on this Super Bowl countdown.

Moments 20-11
Moments 10-1

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments: 20-11

It's less than a week until Super Bowl 50 gets underway in Santa Clara.  Here at Banshee Sports, we are continuing to celebrate the Super Bowl's golden anniversary with our countdown of the 50 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments.  In this column, we finally begin to unveil the top twenty.

20.  Lett Struck by a Beebe.  The Buffalo Bills achieved one of the greatest streaks of almost greatness in the history of sports when they appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990's.  I label this "almost" greatness because the Bills lost every one of those games.  In the second half of Super Bowl XXVII, the Bills were well on their way to a crushing loss to the Dallas Cowboys.  It was in the late stages of this rout that Bills wide receiver Don Beebe made one of the greatest hustle plays in the history of the Super Bowl.  Although this play did nothing to impact the final outcome of the 55-17 blowout, Beebe and Lett combined to give America's youth a lasting lesson about hustle and hot-dogging.

19.  Have a Coke and a Smile.  We have already chronicled many commercials on this countdown.  But, before we had Where's the Beef and the E*Trade Baby entering mainstream pop culture, we had Mean Joe Green, a little kid and a Coke.  This ad debuted in 1979 during Super Bowl XIII, a game that the Steelers won by a score of 35-31 over the Dallas Cowboys.

18.  Gatorade Bath.  The post-game Gatorade bath has become so routine now that it is almost annoying.  After all, does a coach really want to be doused in sticky juice after winning the Beef O'Brady's Bowl?  But, when it happened the first time, it was a unique and memorable celebration.  The New York Giants are a storied franchise, but up until Super Bowl XXI, their greatest franchise moments all took place before the NFL-AFL merger.  Super Bowl XXI in 1987 was the Giants' first Super Bowl championship.  The G-Men celebrated in style by dumping the Gatorade cooler over head coach Bill Parcells.  There is some debate over who invented the the Gatorade bath and when it was first performed, but there is no debate that the Super Bowl champion Giants made this sticky mess a tradition.

17.  Perfection.  There is not much that needs to be said about the 1972 Miami Dolphins.  Their record speaks for itself.  When the Dolphins defeated the Redskins in Super Bowl VII, they became the first team to finish an NFL season with an undefeated season.  The Dolphins finished that year with a record of 17-0.  Since that time, the NFL has expanded both the regular season and the playoffs.  The 2007 New England Patriots reached a lofty record of 18-0, but they ultimately lost in the Super Bowl, thereby preserving the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only perfect team in NFL history.

A young Tom Brady celebrates
his first Super Bowl victory
16.  Patriots Shock the World.  For folks under the age of thirty, it is hard to remember a time when the New England Patriots were not a perennial juggernaut.  But when the New England Patriots faced the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, the Pats came into the game as 14-point underdogs.  Turns out, it was the Rams who needed a spirited comeback in the second half to tie the game at 17-17 with just 90 seconds remaining in the game.  Then the legend of Tom Brady was born.  With no timeouts, Brady drove his team down to the Rams' 30-yard line.  Adam Vinatieri drilled a 48-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Patriots to their first ever Super Bowl championship.

15.  Redskins Explosion.  Coming off a Super Bowl loss the previous year, the Denver Broncos came into Super Bowl XXII as favorites to defeat the Washington Redskins.  After one quarter the Broncos led 10-0.  Then the Washington Redskins put up one of the most explosive quarters in the history of the NFL, let alone the history of the Super Bowl.  The Redskins scored 35 points in the second quarter.  Doug Williams threw four touchdown passes in the quarter on his way to winning the MVP.  Williams was the first African American to start at quarterback in a Super Bowl.

14.  Nothin' But Net.  Super Bowl XXVIII was the most lopsided game in the history of the Super Bowl.  But, this game did give America one of the best commercials of all time.  When Larry Bird and Michael Jordan paired up for this McDonald's ad, it was exciting just to see these two all-time greats on the screen at the same time.  After all, in 1993, it was not commonplace for the NBA's top stars to publicly socialize together.  In this commercial, America got to see a little playfulness mixed in with the legendary competitive fire of Bird and Jordan.

13.  The Refrigerator in the End Zone.  The 1985 Chicago Bears were a truly special team that finished off an all-time great season with a 46-10 demolition of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.  Everything about this Bears team was brash.  Prior to the game, they released the Super Bowl Shuffle music video.  The Bears continued this in-your-face attitude when William "Refrigerator" Perry scored a touchdown in the third quarter.  This is one of the most polarizing plays on this countdown.  Some found this play to be amusing and entertaining.  Others deemed the play to be an insult to all that is noble in football.  With the game already out of reach and the ball on the 1-yard line, the Bears chose to hand the ball to a rookie defensive tackle rather than allow the classy and aging Walter Peyton to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.  "Sweetness" retired in 1987 and never got another chance to play in the Super Bowl.

12.  The Sickest Man in America.  Jackie Smith is a Hall of Fame tight end who spent the majority of his excellent career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals before joining the Dallas Cowboys during the 1978 season.  Unfortunately, when the lights were shining the brightest in the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, Smith was evidently blinded and dropped a wide open touchdown pass.  The Cowboys had to settle for a field goal on the drive and ultimately lost by four points to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The play became immortalized in part due to Verne Lundquist's iconic radio call in which he declared, "Bless his heart.  He must be the sickest man in America."

11.  Tie a Yellow Ribbon.  On November 4, 1979, Iranian students took control of the American embassy in Tehran and seized 66 American hostages.  The hostages were held captive for over a year.  On January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President of the United States.  Moments later, the hostages were released.  On January 25, 1981 we played a Super Bowl.  Throughout the 444-day ordeal, Americans showed their support for the hostages by tying yellow ribbons on trees, mailboxes and houses.  In celebration of the hostages' release, the Louisiana Superdome was adorned with a huge yellow ribbon when it hosted Super Bowl XV.

Superdome celebrates the return of the hostages

Moments 20-11
Moments 10-1

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