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1987 ‐ Super Bowl XXI ‐ New York Giants vs Denver Broncos

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New York Giants 39
Denver Broncos 20

January 25, 1987

Super Bowl XXI was played at the Rose Bowl. The NFC champion Giants (17-2) faced the AFC champion Broncos (13-6) before a sellout crowd of 101,063. The CBS broadcast was watched by 122.64-million. The game was watched in 55 countries and a record 10.1 million listened on radio.

Making their first Super Bowl appearance, the Giants were led by quarterback Phil Simms. Their defense, the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew”, was anchored by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Denver won the AFC West through the improvisational play of quarterback John Elway.

Denver scored first with a record-tying 48-yard field goal. The Giants advanced 78 yards to score a touchdown and lead 7-3. Denver answered with a 58-yard drive capped by Elway’s 4-yard touchdown run.

The only score in the second quarter was the sacking of Elway in the end zone for a safety. Denver led 10-9, the slimmest halftime lead in Super Bowl history.

The Giants seized control in the third quarter, scoring a record 30 points in the second half. They went ahead with a 63-yard touchdown drive 4:52 into the quarter. Denver gained two net yards in the quarter.

Elway threw for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 47-yard bomb with two minutes left for the 100th touchdown in Super Bowl history. Giants coach Bill Parcells was drenched with Gatorade, setting a continuing tradition.

Simms set records for most consecutive completions (10) and highest completion percentage (88% on 22 of 25 attempts). He passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns and was named Super Bowl XXI’s MVP.

The Giants won their first NFL title since 1956. Their win was the NFC’s fifth championship in six seasons.

Around the World on January 25:

  • Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko was born.

Around the NFL in 1987:

  • March 15 – The NFL signed three-year contracts with ABC, CBS, NBC, and ESPN. The ESPN contract was the first with a cable network.
  • April 7 – The NFL awarded CBS Radio a three-year contract.
  • May 20 – Super Bowl XXV was awarded to Tampa Stadium.
  • July 1 – Over 400 retired NFL players from the pre-1959 period received first benefits payments.
  • August 16 – Chicago at Miami, the first game on ESPN, had an 8.9 rating in 3.81 million homes.
  • August 30 – The Raiders at Dallas had a 10.2 rating in 4.36 million homes. The players went on a 24-day strike.
  • September 22 – The strike ended. The season was reduced to 15 weeks with the third weekend canceled. Replacement players played weeks four through six.
  • October 25 – Striking players returned for week seven.
  • October 31 – The Rams, Colts, and Bills engaged in a three-team deal involving 10 players and/or draft picks.
  • December 6 – The Bears at Vikings game was the highest-rated in cable history with a 14.4 rating in 6.5 million homes.
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