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THE LONGEST YARD <br> TOUCHDOWN-SAVING TACKLE SECURES SUPER BOWL WIN FOR RAMS

ATLANTA -- All season long, the St. Louis Rams' season has resembled a movie script.

Cinderella -- for their stunning transformation into winners after a decade of losing.

Rudy -- for quarterback Kurt Warner, who came out of oblivion to become the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

On Sunday in Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams combined those scripts with another -- The Longest Yard.

In what might have been the most exciting Super Bowl ever, the Rams' fairy tale came to a happy ending when linebacker Mike Jones tackled Tennessee receiver Kevin Dyson on the St. Louis 1-yard line on the final play of the game to preserve a 23-16 victory.

The tackle stopped a frantic, 87-yard march by the Titans over the final 1:48.

The Titans snapped the ball with six seconds left from the Rams' 10-yard line. Quarterback Steve McNair hit Dyson on a quick slant pattern at the 4, but Jones got over in time to hit Dyson at the 3 and drag him down at the 1 as time expired.

"I saw him plant, and I broke on it," Jones said. "I said, 'No matter who it is, I can't let him in the end zone. We got a chance to win this game, get him on the ground.' And that's what I did."

"I think we showed America what the Super Bowl is all about today," said Rams coach Dick Vermeil.

"What a great football game!" said Rams linebacker London Fletcher. "We are Super Bowl champions. It came down to the end, and that's a credit to Tennessee. My heart goes out to them."

Jones' tackle foiled what would have been the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Titans trailed, 16-0, with 7:20 left in the third quarter, but scored 16 unanswered points to tie it with 2:12 left.

Warner needed just one play to get the lead back. On first down, he threw a 73-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to Isaac Bruce to give the Rams the lead with 1:54 remaining.

"We wanted to go for a big one right off the bat, thinking that they might not expect it," said Warner. "Isaac made a great, great play."

Warner stood bravely in the pocket and took a huge hit in the face from the Titans' Jevon Kearse. The ball was slightly underthrown, and as Bruce adjusted, Titans cornerback Denard Walker lost sight of the ball and tripped.

"The guy covering me never saw the ball, and he fell on his face," Bruce said.

The outcome preserved the greatest one-season turnaround in NFL history. No team ever has gone from being as bad as the Rams were last year -- 4-12 -- to winning the title the next year.

Warner, whose story is so unbelievable it must be repeated over and over, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

Warner was stocking shelves in a grocery story for $5.50 an hour five years ago.

On Sunday, 72,625 in the Georgia Dome and more than 100 million in 185 countries watched him set a Super Bowl record for passing yards.

He hit 24 of 45 throws for 414 yards, breaking Joe Montana's mark of 357 set in 1989. Warner threw two TDs and had no interceptions.

He and his fleet corps of wide receivers marched up and down the field most of the game. The Rams' five first-half drives went 52, 54, 53, 73 and 67 yards. Yet St. Louis managed only a 9-0 halftime lead because of their failure to punch the ball into the end zone.

Warner pushed the lead to 16-0 with a 65-yard third-quarter drive, capped by a 10-yard scoring strike to rookie Torry Holt.

To that point, the game centered on one matchup: the Rams' fleet receivers vs. the Titans' suspect defensive backs.

Tennessee has an outstanding cornerback in Samari Rolle, but their other corners had trouble covering the Rams' four- and five-wideout sets.

But the Titans got back in the game when their offense got its act together.

Tennessee's bruising halfback, 6-foot-3, 240-pounder Eddie George, banged away at the St. Louis defense and scored from 1 yard out to cap a 66-yard drive with 14 seconds left in the third quarter (the two-point conversion failed).

George bulled through two tackles on a 2-yard scoring run with 7:21 left to make it 16-13. That capped a 79-yard march.

George gained 77 of his 95 yards in the second half. McNair rushed for 64 yards and threw for 212, on 22 of 36 passing.

"Eddie George played a great game," said Titans coach Jeff Fisher. "We couldn't get their offense off the field in the first half. But I believe you saw the real Steve McNair today. He's got the heart of a champion."

The Titans got a 43-yard Al Del Greco field goal to tie it, 16-16, with 2:12 left.

After Warner's bomb to Bruce, Tennessee took over at its 12 with 1:48 remaining.

McNair hit two passes then scrambled for 13 yards and got 15 yards tacked on due to a facemask penalty to get the Titans to the Rams 45.

The Titans got to the Rams 27 with 22 seconds left when McNair was chased out of the pocket, used his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame to shake off two defensive linemen, then threw for 17 yards to Dyson to the 10. The Titans called time out to set up the final play.

"Congratulations to them," Fisher said. "Warner made a great play at the end. We fell a little short."

"It had to be great to watch," Vermeil said.

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