All I can remember is my best friend wouldn't stop playing the acoustic guitar, and my dad was close to throwing him out of the house.
20 years ago, the St. Louis Rams completed a Cinderella season by knocking off the Tennessee Titans by three points and one yard. A single yard negated by a legendary Mike Jones tackle on Kevin Dyson at the goal line. After Steve McNair nearly ruined the party in the Midwest, Jones saved a leaking defensive front by stopping a Titans comeback.
Have you ever experienced one of those elicit moments where you stop breathing for a minute, due to your body becoming so overwhelmed with bliss that you simply don't know what to do? That was all of St. Louis on a late night January night back in 2000. A city that had never tasted Super Bowl glory, a team far away from Lombardi Trophy ownership a year before that it seemed like a comic book story. It was unreal in every sense of the word.
So many things happened that night that could have stopped it all from happening.
The Titans shut down the Rams' running attack, holding Marshall Faulk to 17 yards on 10 carries. Tennessee's defensive line tried endlessly to decapitate Kurt Warner, who threw for 414 yards and a pair of clutch touchdowns. Who can forget Jevon "The Freak" Kearse nearly ripping Warner's helmet off on that big pass to Issac Bruce?
It was Warner and the receivers that night, the true backbone of the Greatest Show on Turf, that propped up the Rams on a gritty night of football. Bruce, Torry Holt, and Faulk combined for 361 yards through the air, all while Warner was under constant attack. He must have been hit 50 times that night before, during, or after attempting a pass.
Everything had to fall into place or Jeff Fisher and his team were going to steal the game.
It was the Rams who held the Titans scoreless in the first half. Jones wasn't the only one who put in the work. For the majority of the game, Kevin Carter and the defensive line held Eddie George in check and kept McNair running rampant all around the line of scrimmage. While Tennessee outscored the Rams in the second half, Warner's two touchdown passes kept the game in hand.
Until that final play, snap, pass, gasp, tackle, bigger gasp, and scream. A moment no one will forget, right up there with David Freese's triple/home run and Jordan Binnington's save in Game 7 against Boston. All the oxygen flies out of your body like a fire is rising up through your throat, only to scamper back into the body after the realization of victory expires.
It was a bittersweet moment, the top of the mountain for the Dick Vermeil regime, a short one at that. He would retire less than 48 hours later. The Rams would go back to the Super Bowl and fall to the New England Patriots on a dramatic final play, this time a kick. Warner would run into a series of injuries, including a brutal thumb injury that limited his accuracy. Players aged, came and went, and Mike Martz simply wasn't as good of a head coach as an offensive coordinator. It was a lesson the Rams would later find out with Steve Spagnuolo, a defensive coordinator from the New York Giants.
Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson ushered in a new and eventual average era of football that never made it back to the big game, even if there were teases.
It's weird that the one thing I remember about Bulger is how he hung his head for a long period of time after interceptions. I remember Jackson trying to run behind a bad offensive line. It just went downhill.
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But you can't take away Jan. 30, 2000 from this town. Stan Kroenke moved the team in 2016, and even saw the Rams get back to the Super Bowl a year ago. They mustered three points and lost to the Patriots. They won't get back there for a while, unless Jared Goff gets a bionic arm and Todd Gurley's arthritis suddenly disappears. It's a fitting bomb of a sequel to a wonderful original, one that should age very well.
Warner went into the Hall of Fame in 2017, and really was the catalyst behind the entire Rams run.
A grocery store clerk who took the ball after Trent Green went down, and helped write a story book that will end up being a script in a Hollywood production very soon. If there was any justice in the world, Issac Bruce would already be a Hall of Famer. Holt should be there as well. In time, they should be, but time is running out.
What is not under consideration are the holding power of those Greatest Show memories. Memories carved out while watching the game in Brentwood Forest with my friend, Josh Brown. A friend who desperately wanted to become the next Dave Matthews during the biggest game of the decade, which almost got him booted out of the house.
Thankfully, he exchanged the guitar for some chips and salsa, and the Rams took home the top prize.
A happy ending that hasn't lost steam two decades later. Greatness never does.