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AP WAS THERE: Simms tops Elway as Giants win 1st Super Bowl

February 5, 2022 GMT
FILE - New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms (11) embraces linebacker Lawrence Taylor after they defeated the Denver Broncos to win NFL football's Super Bowl XXI game in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 25, 1987. Simms grabbed the spotlight after usually operating in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense and passed the New York Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick, File)
FILE - New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms (11) embraces linebacker Lawrence Taylor after they defeated the Denver Broncos to win NFL football's Super Bowl XXI game in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 25, 1987. Simms grabbed the spotlight after usually operating in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense and passed the New York Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick, File)
FILE - New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms (11) embraces linebacker Lawrence Taylor after they defeated the Denver Broncos to win NFL football's Super Bowl XXI game in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 25, 1987. Simms grabbed the spotlight after usually operating in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense and passed the New York Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick, File)
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FILE - New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms (11) embraces linebacker Lawrence Taylor after they defeated the Denver Broncos to win NFL football's Super Bowl XXI game in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 25, 1987. Simms grabbed the spotlight after usually operating in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense and passed the New York Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick, File)
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FILE - New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms (11) embraces linebacker Lawrence Taylor after they defeated the Denver Broncos to win NFL football's Super Bowl XXI game in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 25, 1987. Simms grabbed the spotlight after usually operating in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense and passed the New York Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick, File)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Phil Simms grabbed the spotlight after usually operating in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense and passed the New York Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl. Simms was unanimously voted the game’s Most Valuable Player after he completed 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns and set Super Bowl records with his 88% completion rate and his 10 consecutive completions. Much of the pregame hype centered on John Elway but the Broncos quarterback finished with 22 completions in 37 attempts for 304 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Associated Press is republishing verbatim the story of that game.

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The New York Giants have their first NFL championship in 30 years, and now the world knows they have a quarterback, too.

Phil Simms, who usually operates in the shadow of Lawrence Taylor and the New York defense, grabbed the spotlight reserved for super heroes Sunday by passing the Giants to a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in their first Super Bowl.

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Simms, unanimously voted the game’s Most Valuable Player, completed 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, setting Super Bowl records with his 88% completion rate and his 10 consecutive completions. The Giants turned a 10-9 halftime deficit into a romp with 24 points in the first 19 minutes of the second half.

“This makes up for all the crap I’ve taken over the years,“ said Simms, ignored in the pregame hype that centered on Denver’s John Elway.

“How can I complain about it now? When you think of the Broncos, you just naturally think of Elway. When you think of the Giants, you just don’t think of Phil Simms,” the New York quarterback said.

“I’m happy for Phil and I’m proud he’s on our team,” said Taylor, the NFL’s MVP this season and the universally heralded Giant. “If it weren’t for him, we couldn’t have done it.”

The Giants’ defense also played its part in this victory. It kept New York in the game during the Elway-dominated first half with a safety and goal-line stand, holding Denver scoreless after the Broncos had a first-and-goal at the 1.

But it was even more the work of the underpublicized Simms, who ran a distant second to his blond Denver counterpart in the pregame hype.

“I was close to perfect,” Simms said.

Giants coach Bill Parcells said he thought “that ought to dispel any myth about Phil Simms. He was absolutely magnificent today. That’s as good as has ever been played.”

“Our offense had a lot to prove coming in to it,” said Simms, who joined Parcells in getting a dousing with Gatorade when victory was certain. “I think we did what we wanted to do in the second half.

“When I was warming up, I told everyone, ‘I’ve got it today.’ I was throwing real well,” Simms said.

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Elway finished with 22 completions in 37 attempts for 304 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But 187 yards came in the first half, and almost all the rest came after the Giants had taken a 33-10 lead.

A lot of that yardage was against a Giants defense that played the first half in 70-degree heat, a stark contrast to the wind-chill factor of 10 in New York’s last game.

“It was a little hot out there in the first half,” said Taylor. “In the second half it cooled off. That’s our kind of weather and we said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”

New York’s second-half surge started innocently enough.

Three plays netted 9 yards, and the punting team ran onto the field to punt from its 46. Suddenly, the Giants shifted out of punt formation, and Jeff Rutledge, the second-string quarterback, came up under center.

The ball was snapped and Rutledge sneaked for 1 yard and a first down.

Six plays later, Simms hit tight end Mark Bavaro for 13 yards, the Giants led 16-10 and the rout was on.

“It was about two feet,” Parcells said of his decision to go for it. “You know you’re trying to win the game. This is for the world championship. It’s not for faint-hearted people. He’s either going to go for it or take a delay. If it’s not there, I’ll take the delay. He looked over at me. I nodded my head to him and he went for it.”

“They hadn’t stopped us in the whole first half, except on the goal line,” Elway said. “We were moving great. We had a golden opportunity. We didn’t take it. Against this defense you don’t get a whole lot of chances.”

Denver coach Dan Reeves lamented: “We just didn’t have enough to make it interesting. They certainly are a great football team and they played a great game. In the first half, we should have scored about 10 more points at least.

“We knew going into the game if we didn’t take advantage of every opportunity, we’d be in tough shape,” Reeves said. “The field position in the third quarter really killed us. We were backed up to our 15-yard line the first three times we touched the ball. We felt going in we couldn’t get in a scoring contest with them.”

Meanwhile, New York totally shut down the Denver running game. In the third and fourth quarters, Denver passed 23 straight times without trying a run.

But the tone may have been set on Denver’s first series, when the Giants smothered a third-and-2 play to force Rich Karlis’ first field goal.

“We never had any success running it so we just kept throwing it,” Elway said. “Why try something that isn’t working?”

But nothing worked in that second half as the Giants, knowing the Broncos couldn’t run, charged straight for Elway. The main predators were Taylor, Carl Banks, Leonard Marshall and George Martin, who had sacked Elway for a safety in the first half.

After Bavaro’s touchdown, Denver went 1-2-3-punt as Taylor, Marshall and Martin started charging. The punt was returned 25 yards by Phil McConkey to the Denver 36. Eight plays later, Raul Allegre’s 21-yard field goal made it 19-10.

Again Denver went 1-2-3 punt, and again New York scored, going 68 yards in four plays with Joe Morris going over from a yard out following a 44-yard pass on a flea-flicker from Simms to McConkey.

“Bill’s so conservative,” Morris said of Parcells’ attitude toward that trick play, “that he won’t use it during a game unless we make it every time in practice. We tried it 12 times this week and it worked all 12 times, and he said, ’We’re going to use it some times in this game.’”

Elvis Patterson intercepted an Elway pass the next time, setting up a 6-yard scoring pass from Simms to McConkey. The ball bounced off Bavaro’s hands and helmet, right into the hands of McConkey, who did a victory dance and ran off the field with the ball.

This was the fifth time in six years that an NFC team has won the Super Bowl. The last AFC team was the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984. The Giants won their three postseason games by a total score of 105-23, beating San Francisco 49-3 and Washington 17-0 en route to their first NFL title since 1956.

From then on it was garbage time. Ottis Anderson had a 1-yard TD run for New York. Karlis had a 29-yard field goal for Denver, and Elway threw 46 yards to Vance Johnson for a consolation TD late in the game.

It didn’t start that way.

Denver took a 3-0 lead on the first possession of the game on Karlis’ 48-yard field goal.

Elway was the prime mover on the drive, scrambling 10 yards for a first down on the first play, then hitting Mark Jackson for 24 yards on a third-and-7 from his 39.

But the Giants came right back, with a 78-yard, nine-play drive on which Simms went 6 for 6 for 69 yards. It culminated with his 6-yard toss to Zeke Mowatt with 5:27 left in the quarter.

Then it was Denver’s turn.

The Broncos moved 58 yards in six plays to set up Elway’s 4-yard TD run on a quarterback draw with 2:06 left in the quarter. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Giants in the postseason and followed a double penalty on New York — a late hit by Carson and an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Taylor that put the ball at the 6.

The first quarter ended with the two quarterbacks a combined 13 for 13. Elway was 6 for 6 for 68 yards and Simms 7 for 7 for 76 yards.

The game may have turned on the next series.

Denver, sparked by Elway’s 54-yard completion to Johnson, drove 79 yards on its next possession to the Giants 1. But Taylor dumped Elway for a 1-yard loss on first down. Gerald Willhite was stopped for no gain, and Carson and Banks dumped Sammy Winder for a 3-yard loss on third down.

Then Karlis’ 23-yard field goal attempt went wide right.

The New York defense asserted itself again on the next series, when Martin, who had returned an Elway pass for a touchdown in their first meeting, dumped the Denver quarterback in the end zone for a safety.

Denver had a chance to lengthen the lead at halftime, driving to the Giants 16 late in the second quarter. But Karlis was wide right again, this time from 24 yards.

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AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report.

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