Contemplating Jan. 30, 2010
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
It's a thought that came back to me repeatedly Thursday as I talked to former teammates of Steve McNair at his memorial:
In six months, the Titans will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their biggest moment -- their appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV. What's that going to be like for them without McNair as a part of it?
"Well, we're going to leave that seat [at the head of the table] open, and we know Steve will be there in spirit because he's with us all," Eddie George said. "We talked about him [Wednesday] night, sharing some great stories. We laughed, we cried. It's going to be different. It's surreal."
"I'm going to try to not even think about that right now," Jevon Kearse said. "He will be missed very deeply by myself and a lot of other people."
"It won't feel the same," Samari Rolle said. "He's the face of Nashville. When you think of Steve McNair, you think of that drive in '99."
Several guys who played with McNair said their indelible image of him will come from "that drive in '99," a play that read like this in the official play-by-play sheet from Super Bowl XXXIV:
|AP Photo/Susan Walsh|
|Kevin Carter wasn't the only rusher Steve McNair miraculously escaped on the second-to-last play of Super Bowl XXXIV.|
3-5-SL 26 (:22) S. McNair (shotgun) pass to K. Dyson to SL 10 for 16 (D. McCleon). QB Pressure by K. Carter and J. Williams
If you saw it, that play-by-play line doesn't do it justice.
"I still point back to the second-last play of that game where Kevin Carter and D'Marco Farr literally have him tackled and have him halfway dragged down to the ground and somehow with the power and strength he had he gets away and delivers the ball downfield to Kevin and gives us a chance to win the game on the last play," kicker Al Del Greco said. "If he gets tackled there, the game is over. It just said what he was all about. He was Superman at times."
Three points about the final two plays of that game, and I am not picking on Del Greco, who's hardly the only person to misremember some details.
- On that signature play when McNair shed two rushers to stay alive, it's become a habit for many of us to say it was Carter and Farr. But this blog officially offers an apology to Farr, who may have failed to get to McNair but was not brushed aside. Moving forward I pledge to remember the second guy was Jay Williams.
- The game wouldn't have been over if McNair had been sacked. The Titans would have called their third and final timeout just as they did after the completion to Dyson. But then the last play would have been from around the 26-yard line instead of the 10.
- Had the Titans scored in either scenario, an extra point would have tied it and forced overtime, not won it.