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51 for LI: A Giant Feat In Super Bowl XXI

[lead align=”default”]Super Bowl LI is just three weeks from today. Speaking of 21, Super Bowl XXI was a return to glory for one old NFL franchise.[/lead]

The Super Bowl for the 1986 NFL season featured the New York Giants against the Denver Broncos. Denver was in its second title game seeking its first victory, while it was all brand new to Phil Simms and the Giants.

Super Bowl XXI: 1986 New York Giants

By 1986, the New York Giants were decades without a championship. They had never made the Super Bowl since the game’s foundation in the 1960s, and their last NFL title was in 1956. When Bill Parcells, Lawrence Taylor, and Phil Simms cruised into this season, they were 30 years removed from their prior glory.

Yet, this team had a lot going for it, and it was clear after a few weeks that the Giants were a Super Bowl contender. Despite an 0-1 start via a loss in Dallas, the Giants went 14-2 and grabbed the number one seed in the NFC. A strong mix of offense and defense, the Giants obliterated San Francisco by a 49-3 score in the divisional round, and shut out the Washington Redskins, 17-0, to win the NFC title. Future Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson were going to the big game.

Super Bowl XXI: 1986 Denver Broncos

Yes, the Broncos went 11-5, won their division, and got to the Super Bowl. This season of Denver’s is famous for “The Drive,” John Elway’s coming out party as an elite player. In that AFC championship against the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Erie, Elway drove the Broncos 98 yards down the field late in the fourth quarter to force overtime. A field goal won it for the Broncos, sending them to their second Super Bowl.

Six Broncos made the Pro Bowl that season, including Elway and linebacker Karl Mecklenburg.

Super Bowl XXI: The Game

Denver jumped out to a 10-7 lead after one quarter, with both Phil Simms and John Elway responsible for scores. This turned into a 10-9 game at the half as George Martin took Elway down in the end zone.

What was a tight contest at halftime did not remain that way. The Giants outscored Denver 30-10 in the third and fourth quarter combined, with Simms tossing two more touchdown passes. It was the Giants’ big third quarter, a 17-0 advantage, that sealed the game, and Big Blue’s first Super Bowl win. This was also just a few months after the New York Mets won the World Series, making for a nice winter in the city.

Phil Simms’ performance was one of the most efficient for a quarterback in the history of the Super Bowl. He went 22-for-25 with 268 passing yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. With a passer rating of 150.9, he was damn near flawless. This earned Simms the MVP award.

Super Bowl XXI: Highlights

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