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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dallas Wins Super Bowl on O'Donnell Errors


TEMPE, Arizona -- The Dallas Cowboys did not dominate the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. They didn't blow them off the field or crunch them with their running game.

But they took advantage of two key Neil O'Donnell-to-Larry Brown interceptions and became the second team in history to win five Super Bowls with a 27-17 victory over Pittsburgh at Sun Devil Stadium, giving beleaguered coach Barry Switzer the world championship that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had said he could win.

"Like I told our team on Saturday, when they fire the final gun on Sunday, there's going to be one team left, and the other team is going to be thrown on the pile," Switzer said. "And the team left standing was going to be the Dallas Cowboys. I really believed that."

Switzer said there was "no vindication" in winning after a year in which his coaching ability constantly was brought into question.

"There's no redemption," he said. "It's not important to me. It really isn't. We did it, and we did it my way. Let the players tell you how we did it."

The Steelers were tentative in the first half and, trailing 13-7, O'Donnell started the second half going one-for-four passing.

Then on third and nine at the Steeler 48-yard line, O'Donnell had wide receiver Ernie Mills running wide open. As offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt said later, "If the ball's there, Ernie is still running with it."

That wide open. But instead of throwing it to Mills, O'Donnell went to Brown, who was also wide open. There wasn't anyone in a Steeler uniform near Brown, but O'Donnell's pass was on the mark, and after Brown returned it 44 yards to the Steeler 18-yard line, the Cowboys needed only two plays go up 20-7.

The Steelers looked finished after getting stopped three straight times with a yard to get from their 47. But the defense kept Dallas from building the lead, doing a tremendous job stopping Cowboys all-pro runner Emmitt Smith.

The comeback started after a 46-yard Norm Johnson field goal early in the fourth quarter made it 20-10. Pittsburgh gambled with an onside kick, and Johnson executed it perfectly, kicking the ball to an open spot when outside cover man Dixon Edwards took off early. Pittsburgh's Deon Figures recovered the kick at the Steelers 47.

Pittsburgh's wide receivers, not counted among the league's elite, then led the Steelers on a 52-yard drive, with Andre Hastings, Mills and Yancey Thigpen each catching critical passes as they absorbed punishment. Fullback Bam Morris picked up 11 yards on a catch and run, and Thigpen gave the Steelers a first and goal at the Dallas 5. Three runs by Morris, the last from a yard out, put the ball in the end zone and cut the Cowboys' lead to 20-17.

The Steelers got the ball back after their inspired defense shut down Smith (49 yards) and sacked quarterback Troy Aikman (15 of 23, 209 yards). Pittsburgh took over at its 33 with 4 minutes 15 seconds left, but on second and 10, for the second time in the game, O'Donnell made a so-called hot read on a Cowboys blitz, throwing the ball where a receiver should have been after adjusting his route on the blitz.

For the second time in the game, Brown was standing all alone, and intercepted O'Donnell, returning the ball to the Pittsburgh 6 with 4:01 left. Two plays later, Smith ran four yards for the touchdown; the Steelers' last chance ended at the Dallas 40 when O'Donnell threw behind back John Williams on fourth and 10 with 1:47 left.

Brown was named most valuable player and dedicated the win and his MVP award to Switzer.

"I didn't know what happened" on the interceptions, the cornerback said. "I just saw the ball there and tried to catch it. We needed a big play ... and I was just able to get a jump on the ball and get in front of" the receiver.

O'Donnell said the first interception just got away from him, as he threw behind Mills. The second one was a blown read between O'Donnell and Hastings. Basically, Hastings zigged when he should have zagged.

Hastings said, "Neil and I just weren't on the same page."

"We were right there where we wanted to be, 20-17 with six minutes to go and that's our kind of game," Erhardt said. "Neil anticipated the out route and it was just a missed a read that we had been very, very good on all year." ()

(For linescore, see Scorecard.)