The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project—unveiled every Wednesday, from May through July—detailing 95 artifacts that tell the history of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
Super Bowl XXV, played between the Bills and the Giants on January 27, 1991, is best known for “wide right,” Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood’s missed 47-yard game-winner as the clock expired. Just as noteworthy, though, is the way the Giants defense, coached by coordinator Bill Belichick, stopped Jim Kelly and the Bills’ K-Gun offense. Kelly was the best quarterback in the league during the 1990 season, piloting a high-powered no-huddle attack that led the league in scoring and hung 51 points on the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game. Belichick had different plans for the Super Bowl: He deployed extra defensive backs to take away Kelly’s deep options, and instructed his defenders to hit hard to limit the short passing game. Final score: Giants 20, Bills 19.
Belichick’s defensive plan for that Super Bowl is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and rightly so—it’s tangible evidence of one of the most creative minds the game has seen. Once he took over in New England in 2000, his ability to outsmart opponents, both in coaching and in selecting personnel, helped transform the Patriots into perennial AFC East bullies and three-time Super Bowl champions. Though his tenure was marred by the “Spygate” scandal in 2007 and two subsequent Super Bowl losses (both to his old team, the Giants), his genius for replacing missing pieces and adapting game plans week by week to expose opponents’ shortcomings instills respect, and a bit of dread, in coaches who face him. A recent victory: sending shockwaves through the division by snaring ex-Jet Darrelle Revis, one of the game’s best cover corners, in free agency, to take the opposition’s best receivers out of the game.
Photograph courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.