The 1999 NFL Season brought about the return of the historic NFL franchise, the Cleveland Browns, who were previously inactive over the last three seasons. It also marked the first time since 1966 season that the NFL saw an odd number of teams.
For this reason, the AFC Central sported six teams between 1999 and 2001 before the NFL’s realignment in 2002, which I’ll cover in the next article.
In addition to the Browns, there’s another franchise adopting a NEW identity, that being the Tennessee Titans, so they’ll be making their debut here, too.
Okay, so as noted earlier, the Browns have returned, wearing the same exact helmet they wore previously while the Titans adopted navy into their color scheme with a new helmet, logo, and name. The Ravens also busted out a new helmet logo. Each team’s logo has remained the same throughout the next two decades.
NFC Championship Game
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6
St. Louis Rams: 11
The St. Louis Rams may have been the Greatest Show on Turf, but the Buccaneers’ defense was up to the challenge, holding the NFL’s highest-scoring offense to just 5 points by halftime. In the third quarter, the Bucs managed to creep ahead of the Rams by one, leading 6-5 as the two teams headed into the fourth quarter in what was a touchdown-free game over the first three.
Finally, with 4:44 seconds left in regulation, the game’s only touchdown was scored on a Kurt Warner touchdown pass to receiver Ricky Proehl, giving the Rams a five-point lead after a failed two-point conversion. The Bucs managed to drive deep into enemy territory, looking to score in the game’s final minutes. However, a sack, a controversially overturned catch, and two incompletions sealed the deal, allowing the Rams to punch their ticket into the Super Bowl just five seasons into their tenure in St. Louis.
AFC Championship Game
Tennessee Titans: 33
Jacksonville Jaguars: 14
The Titans were lucky to be here in the AFC Championship Game following a last-second heroic known as the Music City Miracle just two weeks prior before holding off the Colts. Meanwhile, the Jaguars went a perfect 14-0 against everyone not named the Titans, by whom they were swept during the regular season.
The Jaguars led 14-10 at the half before the Titans went on a 16-point scoring expedition in the third quarter, taking a 26-14 lead. The Titans’ defense held the Jaguars scoreless, allowing them to earn a trip to the Super Bowl during their first season in Nashville. Add to the fact the Jaguars were in their fifth season of existence as a franchise, this AFC Championship Game is notable in that neither team either existed in its current form (Titans), or existed at all (Jaguars), during the early part of the wild 1990s.
Hey, I told you the 1990s was a decade of change in the NFL landscape.
Super Bowl XXXIV
St. Louis Rams: 23
Tennessee Titans: 16
Decade of change, I said?
Of course, being that the same concept applied here at Super Bowl XXXIV, where both the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Oilers existed in 1994 and prior, but here in 1999, we have two franchises in two new cities taking up arms to see who would hoist the Lombardi Trophy on January 30th, 2000.
The Rams led 9-0 at halftime, a continuation of their offensive struggles from the NFC Championship Game, but found the end zone in the third quarter, giving them a 16-0 lead with 7:20 remaining in the third.
However, the Titans mounted a comeback, with running back Eddie George scoring the team’s first touchdown, bringing the Titans within 10 points. After another touchdown midway through the fourth, the Titans cut the lead to three before a 43-yard field goal from longtime kicker Al Del Greco knotted the game up at 16-16.
However, MVP quarterback Kurt Warner went deep to Isaac Bruce, and took a 23-16 lead with 4:05 left in regulation.
This Super Bowl would come down to the final play. The Titans managed to put together one final drive and found themselves at the Rams’ 10-yard-line with six seconds left. The final play went to Kevin Dyson. Titans’ tight-end Frank Wycheck was to act as a decoy to lure linebacker Mike Jones away from Dyson, who’d be running a slant.
While quarterback Steve McNair delivered a strike, Jones noticed Dyson was wide open and sprinted his way. Meeting at the two-yard-line, Jones managed to bring Dyson down just inches from Dyson stretching the ball over the goal line, which would’ve brought the Titans within one, a tie and a trip into overtime if an extra point was hit, or an outright win if the Titans went for two and converted.