Super Bowl XXXIII was an American football game played between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion and defending Super Bowl XXXII champion Denver Broncos and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Atlanta Falcons to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1998 season. The Broncos defeated the Falcons by the score of 34–19, winning their second consecutive Super Bowl. The game was played on January 31, 1999, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida (now part of the suburb of Miami Gardens, which became a separate city in 2003).
The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos entered the game with an AFC-best 14–2 regular season record. The Falcons, under former Denver head coach Dan Reeves, were making their first Super Bowl appearance after also posting a 14–2 regular season record.
Aided by quarterback John Elway's 80-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rod Smith, Denver scored 17 consecutive points to build a 17–3 lead in the second quarter from which Atlanta could not recover. At 38 years old, Elway became the oldest player, at the time, to be named Super Bowl MVP (Tom Brady became the oldest in 2017 at the age of 39, coincidentally also against the Atlanta Falcons). In the final game of his career, he completed 18 of 29 passes for 336 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and also scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown. Elway retired on May 2, 1999 before the following season.
|Super Bowl XXXIII|
|Date||January 31, 1999|
|Stadium||Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida|
|MVP||John Elway, quarterback|
|Favorite||Broncos by 7.5|
|Current/Future Hall of Famers|
|Broncos: Pat Bowlen (owner), Terrell Davis, John Elway, Shannon Sharpe|
Falcons: Morten Andersen
|National anthem||Cher, American Sign Language (ASL) translation by Speaking Hands|
|Coin toss||Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Art Donovan, Gino Marchetti, Frank Gifford, Roosevelt Brown, Don Maynard, Sam Huff, Tom Landry|
|Halftime show||Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Pat Summerall and John Madden|
|Nielsen ratings||40.2 |
(est. 83.7 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$1.6 million|
The NFL originally awarded Super Bowl XXXIII to Candlestick Park in San Francisco on November 2, 1994, at the owners meetings in Rosemont, Illinois but pulled the game away after it became unclear whether planned renovations to the stadium were going to happen.
NFL owners then awarded Super Bowl XXXIII to the Miami area during their October 31, 1996 meeting in New Orleans. Other cities under consideration were Atlanta, Tampa, and Los Angeles. Owners initially planned on selecting only two hosts (XXXIII and XXXIV), but decided to name three after strong showings by the respective delegations. Miami, Atlanta, and Tampa were selected to host XXXIII, XXXIV, and XXXV, respectively. This was the eighth time that the South Florida area hosted the game, and the third at Pro Player Stadium (formerly Joe Robbie Stadium).
Following Super Bowl XXXII, which was played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Super Bowl XXXIII would mark the last time back-to-back Super Bowls were played outdoors until Super Bowls XLIII, which was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and XLIV, which was played at Pro Player Stadium, now known as Hard Rock Stadium. This started a streak of 11 straight Super Bowls in which every game with the NFC as the home team was played outdoors and every one with the AFC as the home team was played indoors (incidentally, these games were followed by three Super Bowls played indoors, as AT&T Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Superdome were chosen as the sites of Super Bowls XLV-XLVII; Super Bowls XLV and XLVI were played in stadiums with retractable roofs that were closed prior to the start of the game).
Following the Broncos' victory during Super Bowl XXXII the previous season, many wondered if 15-year veteran quarterback John Elway would retire after finally winning a Super Bowl. But Elway decided to stay with Denver and see if he could lead them to a second consecutive championship. Under the leadership of head coach Mike Shanahan, the Broncos stormed to the top of the AFC with a 14–2 regular record in 1998, winning their first 13 games before suffering their first loss to the New York Giants.
The Broncos' offense, under the leadership of Elway and running back Terrell Davis, had another outstanding regular season, ranking second in the NFL with 501 points and third in total offense with 6,276 yards. Davis had one of the greatest seasons of any running back in NFL history, rushing for 2,008 yards, catching 25 passes for 217 yards, and scoring 23 touchdowns to earn him both the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. But Davis' rushing numbers did not reduce Elway's passing production. The 38-year-old quarterback made the Pro Bowl for the 3rd year in a row and the 9th time in his career, throwing for 2,806 yards and 22 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions. A big reason for Elway's passing success was that he had two Pro Bowl wide receivers and a Pro Bowl tight end to throw to. Wide receivers Ed McCaffrey (64 receptions, 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Rod Smith (86 receptions, 1,222 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 66 rushing yards) provided the team with outstanding deep threats, while tight end Shannon Sharpe (64 receptions, 786 yards and 10 touchdowns) provided a sure-handed target over the middle. The Broncos also had three Pro Bowlers anchoring their offensive line: center Tom Nalen, guard Mark Schlereth, and tackle Tony Jones. On special teams, running back Vaughn Hebron returned 46 kickoffs for 1,216 yards and a touchdown, giving him a 26.4 yards per return average.
The Broncos' defense typically did not get as much attention as their offense, but it was still effective, giving up 308 points (8th fewest in the NFL). Up front, the line was anchored by defensive tackles Maa Tanuvasa and Trevor Pryce, who each recorded 8.5 sacks. Behind them, Pro Bowl linebacker Bill Romanowski recorded 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions. The secondary was led by Pro Bowler Steve Atwater and Darrien Gordon, who led the team with 4 interceptions, which he returned for 125 yards and a touchdown. Gordon was also a great punt returner, returning 34 punts for 379 yards.
The Falcons advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Like the Broncos, they finished the 1998 regular season with a 14–2 record, including wins in each of their last nine games. But unlike the Broncos, Atlanta's success in 1998 was very surprising to many because they had a 7–9 record in the previous season and a 3–13 record the year before that. In fact, the team recorded just four winning seasons in the last 20 years prior to 1998, and only two in the 1990s. (See List of Atlanta Falcons seasons.)
However, the Falcons' fortunes began to improve after Dan Reeves became their head coach in 1997. During Reeves' first season with Atlanta, they finished the season 6–2, after starting out 1–7, to compile a 7–9 record overall. Reeves was Denver's head coach from 1981 to 1992, leading the Elway-led Broncos to Super Bowls XXI, XXII, and XXIV. But they lost each one, including a 55–10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. After that, Reeves was in constant conflict with his coaching staff and some of his players for the next three years. He left Denver in 1993 and spent four seasons as the head coach of the New York Giants before joining the Falcons.
Pro Bowl quarterback Chris Chandler led Atlanta's offense extremely well, throwing for 3,154 yards and 25 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions, while also rushing for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wide receivers Tony Martin and Terance Mathis provided the team with a superb deep threat, each recording over 60 receptions and 1,100 receiving yards, while also combining for 17 touchdowns. Tight end O.J. Santiago added 27 receptions for 428 yards and 5 scores. But the biggest threat on offense was Pro Bowl running back Jamal Anderson, who rushed for 1,846 yards, caught 27 passes for 319 yards, and scored 16 total touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Tim Dwight gave the team a great special teams attack, gaining a total of 1,236 yards and scoring a touchdown on kickoff and punt returns.
The Falcons' defense ranked 2nd in the league in fewest rushing yards allowed (1,203), 8th in fewest total yards allowed (5,009), and 4th in fewest points allowed. Defensive linemen Lester Archambeau (10 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) and Chuck Smith (8.5 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries) excelled at pressuring quarterbacks and stopping the run. Behind them, Atlanta had two outstanding linebackers, Pro Bowler Jessie Tuggle (65 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery) and Cornelius Bennett (69 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries). Bennett played with the Buffalo Bills when they suffered their four consecutive Super Bowl losses in Super Bowls XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII; and thus was determined to finally get a championship ring that had eluded him in the past. Atlanta's secondary was led by Pro Bowl cornerback Ray Buchanan, who recorded 7 interceptions and 102 return yards, and Pro Bowl safety Eugene Robinson (4 interceptions), who was with the Green Bay Packers when they appeared in Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII.
The season was punctuated by Reeves receiving emergency coronary bypass surgery after Week 14. Doctors said he could have been "within hours of a catastrophic heart attack." Although asked to rest for at least six weeks, Reeves returned to the sidelines for Week 17. Then-defensive coordinator Rich Brooks substituted for Reeves as head coach in Weeks 15 and 16, and won both games.
The Broncos demolished the Miami Dolphins 38–3 and beat the New York Jets 23–10 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Falcons were victorious against the San Francisco 49ers, 20–18 and then upset the heavily favored 15-1 Minnesota Vikings on the road, 30–27 in overtime.
This was the third Super Bowl in history that featured two teams with two losses or less. Both teams came into the game with 16–2 records after the playoffs. The first was Super Bowl XII, featuring two 12-2 teams: the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos. The only Super Bowl featuring a better matchup record-wise was Super Bowl XIX, when the San Francisco 49ers had a 17–1 record and the Miami Dolphins had a 16–2 record.
Much of the pregame hype was centered around John Elway confronting his former coach Reeves. Denver head coach Mike Shanahan was hurt and angered by Reeves' pregame assertion that Shanahan and Elway had conspired to have him fired during his stint at Denver. Media coverage also focused on whether or not Elway would retire after the season (which he eventually did).
Elway became the first quarterback to start five Super Bowls; he previously started Super Bowls XXI, XXII, XXIV, and XXXII. Broncos defensive lineman Mike Lodish was making his record 6th appearance in a Super Bowl. He played with Buffalo in all four of their Super Bowl losses (Super Bowl XXV through XXVIII) and with Denver's first Super Bowl win the year before.
On the night before the Super Bowl, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for solicitation of prostitution. While driving alone in a rented car along a downtown Miami street, he approached a female undercover police officer posing as a prostitute and offered $40 for oral sex. Although he was released from jail and allowed to play the game, he was widely denounced by the press and fans for the incident. Ironically, on the morning of the day Robinson was arrested for the incident, he had received the Bart Starr Award for his "high moral character."
The game was broadcast in the United States by Fox and featured the broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall and color commentator John Madden. James Brown hosted all the events with help from his then-fellow Fox NFL Sunday cast members Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Cris Collinsworth.
Miami became the first Super Bowl host city to have games televised by all four major American broadcast networks. CBS televised Super Bowls II and X (and later XLI and XLIV), NBC televised Super Bowls III, V, XIII, and XXIII, and ABC televised Super Bowl XXIX.
After the game, Fox aired the pilot episode of Family Guy, "Death Has a Shadow". Family Guy would become, at the time, only the fourth series to premiere after the Super Bowl and then have a very successful, lengthy run afterwards. The three other successful series that premiered after the Super Bowl were The A-Team after Super Bowl XVII, The Wonder Years after Super Bowl XXII, and Homicide: Life on the Street after Super Bowl XXVII This was followed by The Simpsons episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday".
With this appearance, the Broncos became the first team to play in Super Bowls televised on all four major broadcast networks in the United States. CBS televised the Broncos' losses in Super Bowls XII, XXI, and XXIV (and later their Super Bowl 50 victory), ABC their loss in Super Bowl XXII, and NBC their win in Super Bowl XXXII. The Pittsburgh Steelers became the second with their appearance in Super Bowl XLV, and the New York Giants the third with their appearance in Super Bowl XLVI.
The starting lineups were shown using a virtual TV. To TV viewers, it appeared as if the end zone opened up and a giant TV came up out of the ground. The virtual TV displayed video announcing the starting lineups. The virtual TV effect was provided by PVI Virtual Media Services using their L-VIS virtual graphics system.
During halftime, USA Network aired a special edition of WWF Sunday Night Heat called Halftime Heat featuring a match between The Rock and Mankind for the WWF Championship in an Empty Arena Match that took place in Arizona and had been taped five days before. Mankind won the title, just seven days after losing it to The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
FoxSports.com also ran an online-only Internet halftime show, Webcast live from South Beach Miami, and hosted by then-Fox Sports Net anchorman Keith Olbermann. This halftime show was sponsored by Victoria's Secret and available exclusively in Windows Media Player. Viewer questions were solicited via the FoxSports.com website.
The pregame show, narrated by actress Tori Spelling, depicted the adventure of a Caribbean cruise from its festive departure to its journey to exotic destinations. The show included a performance by KISS, along with their trademark elaborate costumes and theatrical pyrotechnics.
To honor the 40th anniversary of the 1958 NFL Championship, also known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played", the following participants of that game appeared during the coin toss ceremony: Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Art Donovan, Gino Marchetti, Frank Gifford, Roosevelt Brown, Don Maynard, Sam Huff, and Tom Landry, the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. Weeb Ewbank, head coach of the Baltimore Colts in that game, was also scheduled to appear, but died November 17, 1998.
The halftime show was titled "A Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing" and featured Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Stevie Wonder, and Gloria Estefan. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed their song "Go Daddy-O". Wonder sang "Sir Duke", "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", and "I Wish". And Miami-native Estefan performed "Oye!" and "Turn the Beat Around", then a special performance by Stevie Wonder and Estefan was given performing Estefan's hit "You'll Be Mine (Party Time)". Tap dancer Savion Glover appeared during Wonder's performance of "I Wish".
Falcons wide receiver Tim Dwight returned the opening kickoff 31 yards to the Atlanta 37-yard line. Then aided by a 25-yard pass interference penalty against Broncos defensive back Steve Atwater and 31 rushing yards from Jamal Anderson, the Falcons drove to the Broncos 8-yard line. But Denver linebacker Bill Romanowski sacked quarterback Chris Chandler for a 7-yard loss on third down, forcing Atlanta to settle for Morten Andersen's 32-yard field goal to give them a 3–0 lead.
The Broncos then responded with an 80-yard scoring drive. Quarterback John Elway's 41-yard completion to wide receiver Rod Smith and two receptions by tight end Shannon Sharpe for a total of 26 net yards set up fullback Howard Griffith's 1-yard touchdown run. Unfortunately for Denver, Sharpe was injured on that drive. He did play the next drive, but was taken out of the game after that. Later in the first quarter, Falcons defensive back Ronnie Bradford intercepted a pass from Elway (that had bounced off Sharpe) and returned it to the Broncos 35-yard line.
But Denver's defense made a great stand in the opening minutes of the 2nd quarter, tackling Anderson for no gain on 3rd down and 1, and then stopping him for a 2-yard loss on 4th down. The Broncos then reached the Atlanta 8-yard line on their ensuing possession, but were forced to settle for kicker Jason Elam's 26-yard field goal to increase their lead to 10–3.
The Falcons then advanced to the Denver 8-yard line on their next drive, but failed to score when Andersen's 26-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Immediately after the Broncos got the ball back, Smith broke ahead of Falcons safety Eugene Robinson, caught a pass from Elway, and took off for an 80-yard touchdown reception, giving Denver a 17–3 lead (the fourth 80+ yard touchdown pass play in Super Bowl history). TV viewers did not see most of the play, as Fox was still airing a commercial for The Matrix at the time. Aided by Dwight's 42-yard kickoff return to the 49-yard line, the Falcons responded by driving to Denver's 11-yard line and scored with Andersen's 28-yard field goal to cut Atlanta's deficit to 17–6 going into halftime.
The Broncos opened the second half by driving 74 yards to the Atlanta 20-yard line, but ended up scoring no points after Elam's 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Chandler responded on the next 2 plays with a 29-yard completion to receiver Tony Martin and a 12-yard scramble to advance the ball to the Denver 41-yard line. But then linebacker John Mobley sacked Chandler for a 6-yard loss, and cornerback Darrius Johnson intercepted Chandler's pass and returned it 28 yards to the Falcons 42-yard line on the next play. Denver then drove to the 29-yard line, but Elam missed another field goal attempt, this one from 47 yards.
After the missed field goal, the Falcons drove to the Denver 21-yard line with Anderson's 13-yard run, wide receiver Terance Mathis' 13-yard catch, and a 15-yard run from Anderson, giving them a chance to cut their deficit to within one touchdown. However, Broncos defensive back Darrien Gordon intercepted a pass from Chandler and returned it 58 yards to the Atlanta 24-yard line. Two plays later on 3rd and 6, Elway's 15-yard completion to Ed McCaffrey gave Denver a 1st and goal from the 5-yard line.
Griffith took the ball to the end zone from there with two consecutive running plays, the second a 1-yard run to increase Denver's lead to 24–6.
The Falcons reached the Broncos 26-yard line on their ensuing drive, but Gordon intercepted another pass and returned this one 50 yards to the Atlanta 48-yard line. On the next play, Elway completed a short pass to running back Terrell Davis, who turned it into a 39-yard gain. Two plays later, Elway finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Broncos a 31–6 lead (Elway became the second player in Super Bowl history to score a touchdown in four different Super Bowls; he ran for scores before in Super Bowls XXI, XXIV, and XXXII, joining Thurman Thomas on this list).
Dwight returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to cut Atlanta's deficit to 31–13, but the Broncos recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt. Two plays later, a 25-yard completion from Elway to McCaffrey set up Elam's 37-yard field goal with just over 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
The Falcons' offense advanced inside the Denver 30-yard line for the third consecutive time, with Chandler completing 8 of 14 passes for 67 yards and rushing for 6 yards, and finally scored this time on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Chandler to Mathis. Mathis' touchdown made the score 34–19 (Chandler's pass on the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete), but by then there was only 2:04 left in the game. Atlanta failed to recover the onside kick, but got the ball back on their own 30-yard line with 1:34 left after Denver failed to go for it on 4th down. However, Anderson fumbled at the Broncos 33-yard line, and Broncos defensive back Tyrone Braxton recovered the ball, allowing Denver to run out the clock and win the game. The two teams combined for a Super Bowl record 30 4th-quarter points, with the Broncos' 17 and Falcons' 13.
The Falcons' offense gained a total of 337 yards, were not penalized once, and had driven inside Denver's 30-yard line seven times. But Atlanta's offense scored only 13 points and committed four turnovers. Meanwhile, the Broncos gained a total of 457 yards and scored 34 points.
For the Broncos, Davis rushed for 102 yards and caught 2 passes for 50 yards. Davis' 102 rushing yards in the Super Bowl gave him over 100 rushing yards for the 7th consecutive postseason game (and he was the third player to run for 100 yards in back-to-back Super Bowls, the others being Larry Csonka in Super Bowls VII and VIII, and Emmitt Smith in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII). Davis became just the second player to be on a Super Bowl-winning team after being named the NFL Most Valuable Player and leading the league in rushing. Emmitt Smith was the first one, but also was named Super Bowl MVP for Super Bowl XXVIII during that year. Marcus Allen is the only other player to win all three of these honors during his career. Allen won the 1985 NFL MVP Award and rushing title while being named Super Bowl XVIII MVP at the conclusion of the 1983 season. Smith caught 5 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, an average of 30.4 yards per catch. Gordon recorded 2 interceptions and returned them for a Super Bowl record 108 yards.
For the Falcons, Jamal Anderson rushed for 96 yards and caught 3 passes for 16 yards. Dwight returned 5 kickoffs for 210 yards, the second most in Super Bowl history, and the highest Super Bowl career yards per return average (42.0). Mathis led Atlanta with 7 receptions for 85 yards. Chandler finished the game with 19 out of 35 completions for 219 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted 3 times.
|Statistic||Denver Broncos||Atlanta Falcons|
|First downs rushing||8||8|
|First downs passing||14||12|
|First downs penalty||0||1|
|Third down efficiency||6/13||5/11|
|Fourth down efficiency||0/1||1/2|
|Net yards rushing||121||131|
|Yards per rush||3.4||5.7|
|Passing – Completions/attempts||18/29||19/35|
|Times sacked-total yards||0–0||2–13|
|Net yards passing||336||206|
|Total net yards||457||337|
|Punt returns-total yards||0–0||0–0|
|Kickoff returns-total yards||3–44||7–227|
|Interceptions-total return yards||3–136||1–1|
|Time of possession||31:23||28:37|
|O. J. Santiago||1||13||0||13||4|
1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions 5Times targeted
The following records were set in Super Bowl XXXIII, according to the official NFL.com boxscore, the 2017 NFL Record & Fact Book and the Pro-Football-Reference.com game summary.
Some records have to meet NFL minimum number of attempts to be recognized. The minimums are shown (in parenthesis).
|Player Records Set |
|Most passing attempts, career||152||John Elway (Denver)|
|Most interceptions thrown, career||8|
|Most interception yards gained, game||108 yards||Darrien Gordon (Denver)|
|Most interception yards gained, career||108 yards|
|Highest kickoff return average, career (4 returns)||42 yards
|Tim Dwight (Atlanta)|
|Most kickoff returns for touchdowns, game||1||Tim Dwight|
|Team Records Set |
|Most yards gained by
|Fewest punts, game||1||Falcons|
|Most consecutive Super Bowl victories||2||Broncos|
|Fewest times sacked||0|
|Fewest penalties, game||0|
|Fewest yards penalized, game||0|
|Fewest punt returns, game||0||Falcons|
|Most kickoff returns for touchdowns, game||1||Falcons|
|Fewest rushing touchdowns||0|
|Records Set, both team totals |
|Most yards gained by
|Records tied, both team totals|
|Most field goals attempted||7||4||3|
|Fewest punt returns||0||0||0|
|Fewest punt return yards gained||0 yards||0||0|
|Rod Smith||WR||Tony Martin|
|Tony Jones||LT||Bob Whitfield|
|Mark Schlereth||LG||Calvin Collins|
|Tom Nalen||C||Robbie Tobeck|
|Dan Neil||RG||Gene Williams|
|Harry Swayne||RT||Ephraim Salaam|
|Shannon Sharpe‡||TE||O.J. Santiago|
|Ed McCaffrey||WR||Terance Mathis|
|John Elway‡||QB||Chris Chandler|
|Terrell Davis‡||RB||Jamal Anderson|
|Howard Griffith||FB||Brian Kozlowski|
|Harald Hasselbach||LE||Lester Archambeau|
|Keith Traylor||LT||Travis Hall|
|Trevor Pryce||RT||Shane Dronett|
|Maa Tanuvasa||RE||Chuck Smith|
|John Mobley||LLB||WLB||Cornelius Bennett|
|Glenn Cadrez||MLB||Jessie Tuggle|
|Bill Romanowski||RLB||SLB||Henri Crockett|
|Ray Crockett||LCB||Ray Buchanan|
|Darrien Gordon||RCB||Michael Booker|
|Tyrone Braxton||SS||William White|
|Steve Atwater||FS||Eugene Robinson|
|Jason Elam||K||Morten Andersen‡|
|Tom Rouen||P||Dan Stryzinski|
Prior to the start of the 1998 NFL season, the league swapped position titles with the field judge and back judge.
the NFL changed its mind and decided San Francisco was not going to host the 1999 Super Bowl because it was unclear if $26 million in promised renovations to Candlestick Park were going to happen
The 1998 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise’s 33rd in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons qualified for the Super Bowl for the first time under the guidance of second-year head coach Dan Reeves, becoming the first dome team to play in a Super Bowl. The Falcons won their final nine regular season games to earn the #2 seed in the National Football Conference (NFC) for the postseason and the first-week bye. They beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round and the #1-seed Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game before losing to Reeves’ old team, the Denver Broncos, 34–19 in Super Bowl XXXIII.Head coach Dan Reeves almost didn’t make it to the end of the season. After Week 14, he was diagnosed with multiple blockages to his coronary arteries, necessitating quadruple bypass surgery. Reeves admitted he ignored the warning signs in hopes of finishing the season, but ultimately felt he needed to be checked out. Doctors stated by the time he went for treatment, he may have been “within hours of a catastrophic heart attack.” Defensive coordinator Rich Brooks substituted for him as head coach during Weeks 15 and 16. Reeves returned for Week 17 and finished the season.
The Falcons ranked fourth in the league in points scored (442 points) and surrendered the fourth-fewest points (289) in 1998; the Falcons also led the league in turnover differential at +20. The Falcons would not appear in the NFL title game again until 2017, Super Bowl LI, which they lost to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.1998 Denver Broncos season
The 1998 Denver Broncos season was the franchise's 29th season in the National Football League, and the 39th overall. The Broncos entered the season as the defending Super Bowl champions and looked to become only the fifth team in league history to win consecutive Super Bowls.
Finishing with a record of 12-4 the previous year, the Broncos improved on that mark by two wins and tied the Atlanta Falcons for second best record at 14-2. They won their first thirteen games, the best start since the unbeaten 1972 Dolphins.
After sixteen seasons, John Elway retired following the Super Bowl. He finished his Broncos career with 51,475 yards passing and 300 touchdowns. Until Peyton Manning won in Super Bowl 50, Elway stood as the only Broncos quarterback to win a Super Bowl. However, Elway even played a large role in that victory as the general manager and president of football operations for the Broncos.
Running back Terrell Davis set a team single season rushing mark. His final total was 2,008 yards, making him only the fourth player to rush for over 2,000 yards in single season.
In 2007, the 1998 Broncos were ranked as the 12th greatest Super Bowl champions on the NFL Network's documentary series America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions.1999 Denver Broncos season
The 1999 Denver Broncos season was the franchise's 30th season in the National Football League, and the 40th overall. After winning its second consecutive Super Bowl with a win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami, the team suffered the retirement of Super Bowl XXXIII MVP quarterback John Elway during the off-season. Elway had spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos, and much of the focus in the weeks leading up to the season centered on the void left by Elway's departure. Head Coach Mike Shanahan announced that third-round 1998 draft pick Brian Griese, son of Miami Dolphins Quarterback Bob Griese, would take the reins of the offense, passing over veteran and credible back-up QB Bubby Brister.
In the preseason, the Broncos played in the first and so far only NFL game held in Australia. On August 7, 1999, before a crowd of 73,811 spectators at Stadium Australia in Sydney, the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers 20–17.Although no one expected a serious defense of their title, the Broncos would stumble out of the gate this season, losing the first four regular season games. Many of the games would be decided in the final two minutes of play, but the Broncos found themselves on the losing end at 6–10. It was their first losing season since 1994, the worst season since 1990 and the worst record of the five-team AFC West. This was the worst-ever season for a team defending their Super Bowl title in a non-strike season. Only the 1982 49ers had a lower winning percentage as they failed to defend their first Super Bowl championship.The Broncos and the Falcons combined for an 11-21 record in 1999. This is, as of 2018, the worst combined record for both defending conference and/or Super Bowl champions in the season following a Super Bowl appearance. The 11-21 mark was matched by the Bucs and Raiders four years later, one season removed from Super Bowl XXXVII.
Statistics site Football Outsiders calculates that the Broncos went from the league's 28th (third-easiest) schedule in 1998, to the hardest schedule in 1999.:
Before 2011, the worst one-year increase in strength of schedule belonged to the 1999 Broncos. Denver had ridden the third-easiest schedule (in a 30-team league) to a Lombardi Trophy in 1998, only to fall apart the next season under the weight of John Elway's retirement, Terrell Davis'[s] Week 4 injury, and – oh, by the way – the toughest schedule in the league.
This was the largest single-season change in Football Outsiders' rankings until the 2011 St. Louis Rams.
Week 4 saw star running back Terrell Davis, who was last year's league MVP, hurt his knee and was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.2000 Atlanta Falcons season
The 2000 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise’s 35th season in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons offense scored 252 points while the defense gave up 413 points. It was Jessie Tuggle’s 14th and final season with the Falcons, before being waived in the 2001 off-season. He subsequently retired. As for the rest of the team, Atlanta failed to improve upon its 5–11 record from 1999; instead they finished the season 4–12 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season after reaching Super Bowl XXXIII in 1998.Bernie Kukar
Bernie Kukar is an American former football official in the National Football League (NFL) for 22 seasons from the 1984 to the 2005 season. He wore uniform number 86.
He was born and raised in Gilbert, Minnesota and later attended college at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota where he graduated in 1962. He played football at Saint John's under John Gagliardi, the all-time winningest coach in collegiate football history. Bernie played defensive back on defense and quarterback on offense, but was later moved to running back. He also returned punts and kicks.
He began his NFL officiating career in 1984 as a back judge and was promoted to referee seven years later at the start of the 1991 NFL season, which came after the retirement of the "Dean of Referees", Jim Tunney and the promotion of Jerry Seeman to the Director of Officiating in the NFL office. Prior to joining the NFL, he officiated four years at the high school level, and a total of 19 years at the college level with four years at Division III, 11 years at Division II, and four years in the Big Ten Conference (Division I).
He was selected to officiate in the Super Bowl twice, Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999, and Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. He was also an alternate in Super Bowl XXX in 1996.Calvin Collins
Calvin Lewis Collins (born January 5, 1974 in Beaumont, Texas) is a former American football guard who played seven seasons in the National Football League from 1997–2004. He started in Super Bowl XXXIII for the Atlanta Falcons.Chris Banks (American football)
Warren Christopher Banks (April 4, 1973 – April 9, 2014) was an American football guard in the National Football League. Drafted out of the University of Kansas by the Broncos in the seventh round of the 1996 NFL Draft, Banks won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXIII championship team in 1998. Banks also played for the Barcelona Dragons and Atlanta Falcons. Banks died at his home in Abingdon, Maryland on April 9, 2014.Cyron Brown
Cyron Brown (born June 28, 1975) is a former American football defensive end.
Brown played football and basketball at Albert G. Lane Tech High School in Chicago, Illinois, where he earned All-American honors in football and All-City honors in basketball. He played football at Illinois for three years until transferring to Western Illinois in 1997. Undrafted in 1998, Brown was a member of the Denver Broncos from 1998 to 2002, primarily as a member of the practice squad. Brown won a ring as a member of the Broncos Super Bowl XXXIII championship team in 1998. In 1999, Brown was suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Brown was the first Bronco to violate the policy. Since 2003, Brown has played for five different the Arena Football League teams.Darrius Johnson
Darrius Dashone Johnson (born September 17, 1973) is a former American football cornerback for the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League.
The Broncos selected Johnson out of Oklahoma in the fourth round of the 1996 draft. Johnson played in 61 games for the Broncos from 1996 to 1999, during which he had two interceptions, both in 1998. One of his biggest games was a 1999 playoff game against the Miami Dolphins, where Johnson had a 44-yard interception return and caused a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Johnson was a member of the Broncos Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII championship squads. Johnson played briefly for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003.Eric Brown (safety)
Eric Jon Brown (born March 20, 1975) is a former American football safety in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at Mississippi State.
Brown also played for the Houston Texans. He won a Super Bowl championship with the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII over the Atlanta Falcons.Glenn Cadrez
Glenn E. Cadrez (born January 2, 1970) is a former American football linebacker who played 11 seasons in the National Football League, mainly for the Denver Broncos. He played for the Broncos from 1995 to 2000 and was a starter in Super Bowl XXXIII and also played in Super Bowl XXXII making him a two time Super Bowl Champion.
He was the #154 pick in the 1992 NFL draft out of the University of Houston. He played for the New York Jets (1992–1995), Denver Broncos (1995–2000) and Kansas City Chiefs (2001–2002). He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week 10/11/98-10/17/98.
Cadrez also hosted the [Brawley, California]] based sports talk show "The Saturday Morning Blitz". The focus was Major League Football with local High School Football Talk throughout the show. During the 3 hour broadcast, from 9am to 12noon, Cadrez and his co-host talked about current NFL games, highlighted the night before High School games of the Valley, as well as talked to past and present NFL coaches and team members. The show ran on Saturdays beginning August through January 2003 and again in the 2004 season, before Cadrez moved on to other activities. The show aired live on KROP-AM 1300 of Brawley, California.
After Cadrez's football career ended, he and fellow former University of Houston teammate Christopher Tuffin co-founded the horror film finance, production and sales outfit BloodWorks.He married a woman from his hometown El Centro, CA named Betsy Cadrez and had three children with her until he cheated on her with his future wife, former Baywatch star and Playboy Playmate of the Year, Brande Roderick. Whom he met while playing a role in his third film Hood of HorrorThey were engaged in August 2006 and married in 2007.Cadrez has three daughters and two sons: Tahnee, Caylee, Phoebee, Keaton, and Kannon.Harald Hasselbach
Harald Hasselbach (born September 22, 1967) is a former defensive end who played 7 seasons in the NFL for the Denver Broncos. He played for the Broncos from 1994 to 2000 and was a starter in Super Bowl XXXIII. Previously, he played four seasons for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL and also played in a Grey Cup winning team. He is one of at least ten players to have been a part of a winning team in a Grey Cup and a Super Bowl. In 2016, he was inducted into the B.C. Football Hall of Fame.Harry Swayne
Harry Vonray Swayne (born February 2, 1965) is former offensive tackle. He is one of the few players to have started a Super Bowl with three teams: Super Bowl XXIX with the Chargers, Super Bowl XXXIII with the Broncos and Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens
He was the chaplain for the Chicago Bears before becoming the assistant player development director for the Baltimore Ravens. Harry and his wife Dawn have five children.Jessie Tuggle
Jessie Floyd Tuggle, III (born April 4, 1965) is a former professional American football linebacker who played for the Atlanta Falcons his entire career from 1987 to 2000. He graduated from Valdosta State College in Valdosta, Georgia. He appeared in the Pro Bowl five times, and played in Super Bowl XXXIII. His nickname is "The Hammer," because of the impact of his tackles.Matt Lepsis
Matthew Stanley Lepsis (born January 13, 1974) is a former American football offensive tackle of the National Football League. He was originally signed by the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 1997 and remained with the team until his retirement following the 2007 season. He played college football at Colorado.
Lepsis won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.Robbie Tobeck
Robert Lee Tobeck (; born March 6, 1970) is a former American football center who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL). Tobeck played seven seasons for the Seattle Seahawks after being acquired as a free agent from the Atlanta Falcons after signing as a rookie in 1993.
Tobeck started his college career after accepting a scholarship to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, but was redshirted as a freshman. He transferred to Kilgore College, a junior college in Kilgore, Texas for two years and then went on to play big league college football at Washington State University.
During high school, Tobeck attended New Port Richey (FL) Christian, which, until his senior year, only offered a flag football program. However, the basketball program was a standout and Tobeck was a major part of its program.
Tobeck retired at the end of the 2006 NFL season, on January 15, 2007 after a playoff loss to the Chicago Bears.  He played in two Super Bowls, Super Bowl XXXIII as a member of the Falcons and Super Bowl XL as a member of the Seahawks. Tobeck also made the NFC Pro Bowl Team in 2005.Tito Paul
Tito Jermaine Paul (born Dec 7 1972) is a former American football cornerback in the National Football League for the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and the Washington Redskins. With the Broncos, he won Super Bowl XXXIII over the Atlanta Falcons. He played college football at Ohio State University and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1995 NFL Draft.
Paul is an insurance agent in Delaware, Ohio.Tony Jones (offensive tackle)
Anthony Edward Jones (born May 24, 1966) is a former American football offensive tackle in the National Football League who played from 1988-2000. He started Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII with the Denver Broncos. He was inducted into the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame as a charter member on July 17, 1998.
His cousin DeMario Mayfield is a professional basketball player.Tyrone Braxton
Tyrone Scott Braxton (born December 17, 1964 in Madison, Wisconsin) is a former American football safety who played for the Denver Broncos for most of his career from 1987 to 1999. Braxton played in four Super Bowls with the Broncos, and won 2 NFL championship rings in Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII. Braxton also played one season with the Miami Dolphins in 1994 and was a one time Pro Bowler in 1996, a season in which he led the National Football League in interceptions with nine.
Denver Broncos Super Bowl XXXIII champions
|Division championships (15)|
|Conference championships (8)|
|League championships (3)|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
|Wild card berths (7)|
|Division championships (6)|
|Conference championships (2)|
|Ring of Honor|
|Current league affiliations|
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Games |
1 – From 1966 to 1969, the first four Super Bowls were "World Championship" games played between two independent professional football leagues, AFL and NFL, and when the league merged in 1970 the Super Bowl became the NFL Championship Game.
2 – Dates in the list denote the season, not the calendar year in which the championship game was played. For instance, Super Bowl XLI was played in 2007, but was the championship for the 2006 season.
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