Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which former Ohio State player had the best Super Bowl performance?
Jami’s Take: Eddie George in Super Bowl XLIII, 1997
When we look at historic Buckeye Super Bowl performances, the obvious choice here is Santonio Holmes. He’s the only Buckeye in history to win the Super Bowl MVP award, a title he earned in 2009 after he helped the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals with 9 catches for 131 yards and a game-winning touchdown in the final minute in Super Bowl XLIII.
Alternatively, we did say “Best Performance,” so I did toy with naming my kings Shaun Gayle (former Buckeye safety) and Mike Tomczak (former Buckeye quarterback). Because has there ever been a better football “performance” than the 1985 Chicago Bears’ “The Super Bowl Shuffle”? Methinks not (I’m a Bears fan. I’m biased on the subject. You already know this, so let’s move on).
The problem is, I don’t feel great about selecting my guys in the Shufflin’ Crew for “Best Performance,” given that they didn’t match that legendary dance with on-the-field greatness in the Super Bowl game itself. Tomczak was in his rookie season, and while he did play in the game on the kickoff unit, he was penalized for a face mask. Gayle, for his part, didn’t record a single tackle in Super Bowl XX (though he is pretty well-known and loved in Chicago in spite of it).
So instead of taking the easy out or the kind of lame left-field out, I present for your consideration: Eddie George.
You might have heard of him.
George – Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy-winning running back – was drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers in 1996. He was the starting tailback from 1996-2003, never missing a start and moving with the team to Nashville when the Oilers became the Tennessee Titans.
This is where our story begins. It is now the year 2000. A month ago, we were worried the human race would be wiped off the planet because of Y2K (a concern I still don’t fully understand), and now we’re ready to celebrate our survival by watching the Tennessee Titans take on the St. Louis Rams at the Georgia Dome in Super Bowl XXXIV.
The Titans and the Rams had both gone 13-3 in the regular season, though the Titans needed a wild card berth to make the playoffs and the Rams were favored.
For both franchises, the playoffs were a welcome change of pace: The Rams hadn’t made the playoffs since 1989 – their first playoff berth since moving from Los Angeles to St. Louis, and the Titans were making their first since 1993, and their first since moving from Houston.
Here’s where George comes in. The game was a largely defensive battle for the first half, with both teams coming up empty on drives deep into their opponent’s territory. George took on his usual role as a steady force though, with some major plays for the Titans' offense. Over the course of the game, he ran for 95 yards in 28 plays.
In the second half, things really got going for George. Playing small ball, George was able to help the team drive down the field. His touchdowns on back-to-back drives cut the Rams’ lead to 16-13. They followed that with a field goal to tie the game, 16-16.
The Rams did ultimately tack on another touchdown, which brings us to one of the greatest ends of an NFL game in history.
In the final seconds of the game, the Titans ran an unbelievable play that used tight end Frank Wychek as a decoy to free up receiver Kevin Dyson. And it almost worked.
Except Rams linebacker Mike Jones caught on just in time, making the tackle with two seconds on the clock. The Titans had no timeouts and were unable to get another play off, falling just short of a last-second comeback. How short? Mere inches.
Final score: 23-16, Rams.
But while the end of this game went down in infamy, it needs to be noted that George brought his team back from what was previously considered an insurmountable deficit. The Rams’ 16-point lead was the largest deficit to be erased in a Super Bowl. It was the first time a deficit larger than 10 points was erased. It was the first time in Super Bowl history a team tied the game after being down double digits in the fourth quarter.
And that was thanks to George.
It’s easy to dole out recognition to players on the winning team. But George broke records, fought back, and held his team in the game until the final seconds, and though the Titans didn’t walk away with the victory, he also made it a helluva game to watch. And that, my friends, is a performance worth talking about.
Matt’s Take: Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII, 2009
I love Eddie George. He won the Heisman my freshman year of high school; I was at his Senior Tackle in The Horseshoe; I’ve interviewed him here at Land-Grant Holy Land; I proudly wear my Tennessee State hat as often as possible.
But, there’s no way to argue that any Buckeye had a better Super Bowl performance than Santonio Holmes. Fourteen years ago, the Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver caught the game-winning touchdown with just 35 seconds remaining to win the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. That catch capped a nine-reception, 131-yard performance, earning him the honor of being the Super Bowl XLIII MVP. The Steelers took home the title in a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
While I am not a passionate NFL fan, it does still pain me a little bit to pick a Steeler even if he does have very strong Columbus roots. If I’m being honest, I would have preferred to go further back in history to pick my Super Bowl Buckeye hero, especially considering Holmes’ spotty legal history. I wish I could have picked Orlando Pace, Tom Matte, Matt Snell, or even Mike Vrabel, but how can I argue with Holmes? He’s the only Buckeye with a Super Bowl MVP trophy, he caught the game-winning score in dramatic fashion, and he put up some really impressive numbers.
So, my heart will always side with Eddie (Eddie, Eddie), but I’ve got to go with Santonio on this one.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Eddie George
Matt: Santonio Holmes