BERNIE MIKLASZ: Jones put the Rams on top of the world
By Bernie Miklasz Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
ATLANTA -- One tackle made Mike Jones a hero. One tackle made the world spin, made hearts stop, and took everyone's breath away. One tackle turned the Rams into world champions
. One tackle started a flow of champagne in St. Louis and the flow of tears in Tennessee. One tackle forced NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to present the Vince Lombardi championship trophy to Rams owner Georgia Frontiere with millions of people watching.
One tackle gave Georgia the sweetest revenge against the league that tried to stop her from moving to St. Louis.
One tackle decided the greatest Super Bowl ever played.
It was one tackle, on the last play of the game, made a foot from the St. Louis end zone. It was the final word in the storybook season. It gave us memories that will last a lifetime. It sends Mike Jones, the Rams' outside linebacker, right into that special place where the legends live forever. He's up there now with Bob Gibson striking out all of those Tigers, Mark McGwire hitting No. 62 and Willie McGee climbing the walls and hitting home runs in the 1982 World Series.
We will be talking about it for the rest of our lives, and our kids will tell their kids, and it will be passed on through the generations. The tale will be told about a gripping, dramatic, thrilling Sunday night in Atlanta. The Rams were gasping for oxygen, about to give up their 23-16 lead in the Super Bowl.
We will talk about how Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner (414 yards passing) recreated a Joe Montana fable with the score tied at 16-16. How Special K released a deep pass just as he was being clobbered by Tennessee end Jevon Kearse. And how wide receiver Isaac Bruce floated under the ball, adjusting in mid-route to pull the pass to his body. And how he sped away, not stopping until he had gone 73 yards for the touchdown and a 23-16 lead with 1 minute 54 seconds remaining.
We will talk about how Tennessee marched down the field. Suddenly the Titans were at the 10-yard line with six seconds left. We will talk about how Titans quarterback Steve McNair threw a pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson, who caught the ball inside the 5-yard line and tried to curl into the end zone. We will pause here to recount what we were thinking at the moment, in that instant flash of recognition that has yet to become reality. It's almost as if our lives were temporarily suspended.
``Right before that,'' Rams center Mike Gruttadauria said, ``I looked to my left and to my right on the sideline and looked at my teammates. Some were praying, some were chanting, some were holding hands. I think some had their eyes closed. It was tough to watch.''
Would Dyson get in? Would someone save Super Sunday for the Rams? Dyson clutched the ball, his long legs trying to shake free for a sprint or a hurdle into the end zone and a likely overtime. It was going to be close. It was going to be one of those plays that separates winners from losers. The history books waited for answers.
Dyson felt a surge of excitement; he was about to score the biggest touchdown of his life. ``As soon as I caught the ball, I was thinking paydirt,' '' Dyson said. ``I didn't think anybody would be in the middle of the field.''
The Rams were trying to stop Dyson, trying to stop Tennessee's momentum, trying to stop their backs from breaking, trying to hold onto that Super Bowl trophy.
``I was thinking, somebody please tackle him,'' Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom said. ``Please, please someone make that tackle.''
Jones was lurking in history's waiting room. He flew across the carpet to make the rescue. Mike Jones, the Kansas City native. The former college running back at Missouri. The former Oakland Raider who was the first defensive free agent signed by Dick Vermeil in 1997. Mike Jones, brought to St. Louis to provide dedication, and leadership. Mike Jones, as first-class a person as you'd ever want to meet.
Jones was about to remind us of the good things that can happen to those who work hard and try to lead a perfect professional life. Jones wrapped up Dyson and wrestled him down.
``There was one tick left on the clock,'' Bruce said. ``And Mike held him with everything he had.''
The clock ran out as Dyson lunged, hopelessly, for the goal line.
``That, right there, was the greatest tackle made in Super Bowl history,'' Rams safety Keith Lyle said. ``The rest of our lives, we'll see that shown a million times on TV, and we'll replay it over and over again in our minds.''
The game was over. Was it over? Over. Just like that. Are we sure? Yes. Madness. Fireworks. Confetti. Over. They're rolling the stage out onto the field for the trophy presentation. Yes, it was over. Exhale.
``I just fell down,'' Rams defensive tackle D'Marco Farr said. ``I just fell on my back and looked up, just trying to keep that feeling inside. I didn't want to move.''
Jones, a quiet man, shook his head when asked to explain his emotions. The sweat was pouring from his face. ``Relief,'' he said. ``Tired. It was just like, `Man, I'm glad this game is over and we're the world champions. It hasn't really sunk in yet. But I know when I get with my teammates and realize that we're the best in the world, then it's really going to hit me.''
Inside the Rams' locker room, Ray Agnew led his teammates in prayer. Vermeil told the players that he loved them. And then the Rams began to kiss the trophy, hug the trophy, take photos of the trophy.
``The entire season, this great Super Bowl, all of the dreams that both teams had, everything we've worked for,'' Farr said. ``It all comes down to one play. One tackle, and we're on top of the world.''
Mike Jones lifted them there.
Mike Jones more than a Super Bowl hero
January 31, 2000
By John Pezzullo
ATLANTA (TICKER) -- After playing
143 NFL games with quiet efficiency at
Jones' quickness makes him one of
the top cover linebackers in the league.
"I knew I was about at the three
or the two, and when he caught the ball I
Folks, not many outside linebackers
in this game can tackle receivers on
Jones was lined up on the left with
two other defensive backs against a
"We had the guy going into the end
zone doubled, and Mike Jones was sitting
McNair made the proper read on the
play. Anytime a receiver slants on a
"To me he is the best outside backer
in the game," Rams defensive end Kevin
Jones, 30, made a number of big plays
this season as witnessed by his three
In a November 14 game against Carolina,
Jones returned a fumble 37 yards for
"I feel great that he made that play
because he's had a great season,"
Jones spent the first six years of
his career with the Raiders where he
Soon after Dick Vermeil became Rams
coach in 1997, he signed Jones as an
"He's not an unsung player on this
team," Vermeil said. "We know how good he
Along with the touchdowns, Jones
finished the 1999 season with 94 tackles,
So this is not just another Super
Bowl hero along the lines of running back
And to think one of the running jokes
during Super Bowl week was that each