1999 Professional Football Season Recap: The Rams' Surprise Year
Say it Slowly
The season did not start well for the St. Louis Rams. The Rams were coming off a lousy season and things were not looking any brighter when starting quarterback Trent Green was lost for the year after wrecking his knee in the team's final preseason game.
Big things were expected from Green, not from his understudy Kurt Warner. But in one of the greatest stories in NFL history, it was Kurt Warner, the former supermarket stock boy and Arena Football League player, who stepped up to replaced the starter and stunned the rest of the league with a season for the record books.
All Warner did was win the regular season MVP award and the Super Bowl MVP award, and become only the second player throw 40 touchdown passes in a season, on his to way leading the Rams, owners of a 4-12 record in 1998, to 13-3, a single-season turnaround of nine games. The Rams offense was just down-right scary. Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, who became the first player in NFL history to record over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, and the team's talented wide receivers Issac Bruce, Az-Zahir Hakim and Torry Holt put up some big numbers.
While the Rams were without a doubt the surprise of the year in the NFL, another team was turning some heads in the AFC. The Tennessee Titans, led by quarterback Steve McNair, running back Eddie George and their “Achy-Breaky”-haired head coach Jeff Fisher, finished the regular season with a 13-3 record but looked like they were soon-to-be extinct in their first playoff game against the Buffalo Bills. Until the play they'll forever call the “Music City Miracle” in Nashville unfolded. The Bills had taken a 16-15 lead with 16 seconds left. Fisher called for the last-minute desperation play they had gone over in practice and this time it actually worked.
Lorenzo Neal fielded the intentionally short kick and handed the ball to tight end Frank Wycheck who turned to his left and fired the ball overhand across the field, in what initially appeared to be a forward pass and therefore would be illegal. Kevin Dyson caught the pass and, behind several blockers, raced 75 yards up the left sideline to the endzone for the touchdown and the stunning victory. The play held up under the closer scrutiny of instant replay and the Titans advanced.
Both the Rams and Titans had magic in 1999. So it was destined that they met in Super Bowl XXXIV. The teams seemed evenly matched and, fittingly, the game, which some have called the greatest Super Bowl ever, was not decided until the final play. Despite Warner's Super Bowl record 414 yards passing, the Titans were in the game to the very end until a lunging Dyson was tackled just one yard short of the goalline by Rams linebacker Mike Jones as time, and the NFL season, expired.