Monday, July 7, 2014
Rams' top plays: The Tackle
By Nick Wagoner
This is the first of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. In the next two days, we’ll feature Isaac Bruce's 73-yard touchdown catch that provided the winning points in Super Bowl XXXIV and Ricky Proehl's 30-yard touchdown catch to beat Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game. Please vote for your choice as the Rams' most memorable play.
Score: Rams 23, Titans 16
Date: Jan. 30, 2000 Site: The Georgia Dome
While the Greatest Show on Turf stole most of the headlines in the Rams' storybook 1999 season, it was somewhat fitting that Super Bowl XXXIV would fall on the shoulders of an underrated defense. More specifically, the game would come down to the ability of solid, if unspectacular, linebacker Mike Jones to make a tackle as time expired and preserve a championship.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher used his final timeout with six seconds remaining as his team desperately drove the length of the field in search of a tie or, possibly, the win. Quarterback Steve McNair marched the Titans down the field in short order and had an exhausted Rams defense on its heels at the St. Louis 10. The Titans were out of timeouts, and the ensuing play was nearly certain to be the last of the game.
Before the snap, receiver Kevin Dyson motioned left and back to the right, where he stepped in behind tight end Frank Wycheck, allowing him a free release at the snap. Wycheck ran directly at Jones with Dyson breaking for an inside slant route. The hope for the Titans was Jones would stay with Wycheck, allowing Dyson an easy catch and run for the touchdown.
Jones stayed with Wycheck for a moment but quickly realized what was happening. Upon safety help arriving on Wycheck, Jones turned his attention to Dyson, whom McNair hit in stride at the 5. Jones converged on Dyson as he moved toward the end zone and the sure-tackling Jones wrapped him up and brought him down as he stretched toward the goal line. Dyson came up a yard short, time ran out and the Rams celebrated as world champions.
There's really no debate that this is one of the most memorable plays in Rams history and for the league as a whole. It doesn't get more dramatic than sealing a victory in the Super Bowl as time expires. Plays can be memorable for many reasons, including their greatness, their place in history and what they mean in telling the story of a franchise. In this case, the play simply known as "The Tackle" represents everything a memorable play should be.