One of the last great (and honest) dynasties in history ends today on NFL Thursday, as the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl for the fifth and final time—including three times in the last four years. It seems weird that both the Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers have gone decades now without winning the NFL championship, but everything is cyclical, and times do change … always.
(For this specific article, check out our first NFL miniseries entry on this season for context.)
Super Bowl XXX MVP: Larry Brown, CB, Dallas (original, confirmed)
Dallas finally beat Pittsburgh in a Super Bowl! The Cowboys outlasted the Steelers, 27-17, as Dallas cornerback Larry Brown won the MVP Award for … catching two passes thrown right to him by Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O’Donnell. He gained 77 return yards combined, setting up two easy touchdown runs by running back Emmitt Smith, who struggled all day otherwise (18 carries, 49 yards).
Cowboys QB Troy Aikman had a great day—15 of 23 for 209 yards and 1 TD with no INTs—but overall, the Dallas offense gained just 254 total yards because of its inability to run. Aikman could only manage one touchdown drive on his own, and that was the game-opening possession. Otherwise, it really was the two INT returns by Brown which set up the Cowboys victory here.
The Steelers won the time of possession and yardage battles—but lost the turnover war, 3-0. That was the difference in this game, and it was because of O’Donnell’s stray throws that happen to go right to the Dallas nickelback both times. Talk about being in the right place and the right time … twice! We’d prefer to give this MVP to Aikman, but we just cannot, since Brown literally did “more” to win the game.
1995 NFL ROTY: Curtis Martin, RB, New England & Hugh Douglas, DE, New York Jets (original); Ken Dilger, TE, Indianapolis (revised)
Both vote winners played for losing teams in the AFC East, so it’s hard to give them our award here. The Patriots won 6 games and the Jets just 3 times. We see another AFC East rookie, Indianapolis Colts tight end Ken Dilger, as a potential winner here, as the Colts won 9 games to steal a playoff spot (led by our MVP pick for this year, too). With 42 catches for 635 yards and 4 TDs, Dilger played a big role in that.
Another dark horse we see is Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver/special teams star Tamarick Vanover: He scored 3 different ways during the season for the AFC West champions. He returned punts for 540 yards and a TD; he returned kickoffs for 1,095 yards and 2 TDs; he caught 11 passes for 231 yards and 2 more TDs. He also gained 2 first downs on 6 rushing attempts for 31 yards, as well. A very impressive season!
Defensively, there are no real contenders here that fit our requirement thresholds. Therefore, it’s Vanover or Dilger. We think Vanover was the better rookie, but Dilger’s impact was huge. The Colts finished 9-7, while three other teams were sitting there at 8-8 ready to sneak into the postseason. Without Dilger, Indianapolis misses the playoffs. The Chiefs won their division by 4 games, so value is value.