Rams: Miracle Moments


Rams: Miracle Moments

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Miracle Moments 
The St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl Victory

As the 1999 season dawned, the St. Louis Rams were voted least likely to succeed. Coming off a horrendous 3-13 season the year before, the odds of their making it to the super bowl were 200-1. Plus, these Rams were depending on a no-name backup quarterback — a virtual nobody whose only professional experience was in the Arena League and NFL Europe.

But as they say, miracles do happen, “Miracle Moments,” to be exact. And they happened quite frequently for the Rams during that unforgettable cinderella season that brought them into the Atlanta Georgia Dome for the 34th Super Bowl against a confident bunch of Tennessee Titans led by quarterback Steve McNair.

History tells us that super bowls are traditionally mega-hyped but disgustingly poor exhibitions. But not this one. No, this one had the right stuff, the undeniable intangibles that make crazy fans crazier. Sportswriters agreed: this super bowl could go down as the best ever played. As with every ball game, key plays make the difference. And it was the key plays or “Miracle Moments” that put the Rams over the top.

In this fitting tribute to the champion Rams, America’s Sports Artist, Rick Rush, has deftly painted this dramatic rendering that meshes several miracle moments from the Rams’ incredible season. The centerpiece finds “miracle worker” and MVP Kurt Warner delivering one of his 24 completions — this one the game’s first TD, and first ever by a Rams quarterback in the super bowl — a 9-yard strike to Torry Holt over the outstretched arms of Perry Phoenix (#35).

This representation is most likely the best play of the game because of the sensational blocking effort by Rams’ running back Marshall Faulk (#28), who is pictured upending Phoenix as he dives over the line. This block also blasted another Titan defensive lineman out of the play since Faulk’s waist high block on Phoenix sent him crashing into that would-be tackler, bringing to three, including his original block, the number of Titans eliminated from the play by Faulk!

The super pass by Warner (with Phoenix’s hand in his face), who passed for 414 yards that day, was complemented by Holt’s receiving acrobatics (top right background image), who caught the ball on a crossing pattern in the middle of the field. As he caught the ball with his right hand (closest to Warner), it rolled off and had to be cradled against his facemask and left hand long enough to cross the double-strip into the endzone. Providing bulwark-like protection for Warner is Adam Timmerman (#62), the offensive guard acquired from Green Bay. His presence on the team brought great stability to the line, one more reason for the extraordinary season.

The previous plays might only be surpassed by the monumental game-saving effort by the Rams’ Mike Jones (center background image on ground) with six seconds left in the game. After battling back from a 16-0 deficit, the Titans were on their way to pulling off a miracle of their own behind McNair’s pin-point passing and Eddie George’s running. A score would tie the game and push it into overtime, but Jones had other plans. With the clock ticking down, McNair scrambled but then drilled a perfect strike to Keith Dyson (#87), who headed for the goal line. Jones met Dyson at the 5-yard line and began wrapping him up. But as he did, Dyson spun around, causing Jones to loose his footing and essentially hang in mid-air as Dyson battled for the endzone. Dyson’s knee actually touched around the 3-yard line before Jones pulled him to the turf to end this remarkable game.

The final image (center top) features the catch by Rick Proehl, wearing the Ram’s blue play-off uniform against Tampa Bay two weeks before the Super Bowl. This play actually precipitated the Ram’s ultimate victory. Proehl’s phenomenal catch in the waning moments of the game -- a juggling, do or die, hold-your-breath masterpiece that put an exclamation point on this miracle season. Proehl’s reception of Warner’s rainbow pass slipped through his fingers, started to slide over his shoulder but was tenuously cradled like a marshmallow as his dragged his toes over the endzone line for the score before being knocked out of the endzone.

As with other Rick Rush offerings, this work reflects a veritable cornucopia of drama, color, excitement and tension that compels the viewer to reflect on a football season that will long be remembered as the St. Louis Rams’ “Miracle Moments.”