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SB # XXI — N.Y. Giants 39, Denver 20

Super Bowl 21
 

Super Bowl XXI was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants to decide the National Football League(NFL) champion for the 1986 season. The Giants defeated the Broncos by the score of 39–20, winning their first ever Super Bowl, and their first NFL title since 1956. The game was played on January 25, 1987, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


This was the Broncos' second Super Bowl appearance. Led largely through the play of quarterback John Elway and a defense that led the AFC in fewest yards allowed, Denver posted an 11–5 regular season record and two narrow playoff victories. The Giants, led by quarterback Phil Simms, running back Joe Morris, and their "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" defense, advanced to their first Super Bowl after posting a 14–2 regular season record and only allowing a combined total of 3 points in their two postseason wins.
 

The game was tight in the first half, with the Broncos holding a 10–9 halftime lead, the narrowest margin in Super Bowl history. The only score in the second quarter, however, was Giants defensive end George Martin's sack of Elway in the end zone for a safety. This began New York's run of scoring 26 unanswered points through the third and fourth quarters. The Giants also posted a Super Bowl record 30 points in the second half, and limited the Broncos to only 2 net yards in the third quarter. Simms, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, finished the game with 22 of 25 passes completed for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 25 rushing yards on 3 carries. His 22 out of 25 (88%) completion percentage not only broke a Super Bowl record, but also set an NFL postseason record that lasted for 21 years. This remains the only Super Bowl win for the Giants against a team that did not come from the AFC East.
 

The telecast of the game on CBS was seen by an estimated 87.2 million viewers.[4] This was one of the first times that a very large, national audience saw what is now the traditional Gatorade shower, where players dump a cooler full of liquid over a coach's head following a meaningful win. The practice was first started by Giants players in 1985 but it did not gain much national prominence until this season.