Cowboys 27 - Steelers 17
Superbowl 30TEMPE, Ariz. - It was the ultimate triumph for the richest and most talented team in football, and it concluded without a trophy tug between owner and coach.
It could be redemption for beleaguered coach Barry Switzer and perhaps vindication for controversial Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith produced three touchdowns playing behind their Super Bowl XXXL offensive line as the Cowboys outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, to take Super Bowl XXX.
Cornerback Larry Brown was selected the Most Valuable Player for intercepting two Neil O'Donnell passes and returning them 44 and 33 yards. The Cowboys converted those turning-point plays into 14 decisive points in the second half while claiming an unprecedented third Super Bowl title in four seasons before 76,347 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Jones handed the first Lombardi Trophy the team has won since Jimmy Johnson's dismissal to Switzer, who held it firm and thrust it high.
"We did it our way, baby," he shouted to Jones. "We did it! We did it!"
In the locker room afterward, Switzer downplayed the vindication angle. "That's not important to me. That never had been," Switzer said. "I just want to be a team guy. We did it, and we did it my way. Let the players tell you about that."
The limousine-hopping Cowboys (15-4) held off the lunchpail Steelers (13-6) to match the San Francisco 49ers as the only franchises to win five Super Bowl titles. Overcoming controversy and internal conflict, the Cowboys clearly reign as the Team of the '90s.
"I know that having done it three times in four years certainly this football team has made a place in history," Aikman said. "I don't know if this team is going to be regarded as the Team of the '90s. I don't think anyone in our organization is ready to look back over the last four years and say we had a good run."
That is because the Cowboys have great players still in their prime. There is no apparent reason they should not remain competitive.
The sharpest difference between the Cowboys and Steelers seemed to be at quarterback. While each threw only seven interceptions in the regular season, O'Donnell threw two nervous interceptions when confronting Dallas blitzes. Meanwhile, Aikman was unflappable and flawless.
Aikman flashed his trademark big-game brilliance with 15 completions in 23 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown. He joins San Francisco's Joe Montana and Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw as the only NFL quarterbacks to win three or more Super Bowls.
While they never trailed and often seemed the dominant team, the Cowboys were this close to possible defeat: They needed Brown's interceptions to position Smith for touchdown runs that culminated two-play possessions covering 18 and six yards.
The first turnover inflated the Cowboys' 13-7 halftime advantage - the closest Super Bowl intermission in four years - to 20-7. The second confiscated emotion and momentum from the Steelers for the last time. Each time, a panicky O'Donnell miscommunicated with his intended receiver and threw passes directly to Brown.
"We're all in this together, so you can't single out one individual," said O'Donnell, who claimed the first interception was a result of the ball slipping from his hand on the throw. "There wasn't one reason we lost this football game. I told everyone earlier in the week that it would be an exciting football game, that we would have a chance. We did."
The second interception was particularly devastating for Pittsburgh. The Steelers had the Cowboys reeling at the time.
Coach Bill Cowher's boldness helped the Steelers shock the Cowboys with 10 consecutive points in the fourth quarter. The defiant Steelers stubbornly played their way into the contest by following a Norm Johnson field goal with the earliest successful onside kick in Super Bowl history.
The Cowboys, leading 20-10 with 11:20 remaining, were unprepared for the tactic. Pittsburgh's Deon Figures recovered on the run between sprawling Cowboys Dixon Edwards and Jim Schwantz. The Steelers reduced the deficit to 20-17 when Bam Morris ran untouched for a touchdown from a yard out with 6:36 remaining.
In a Super Bowl rarity, there suddenly was fourth-quarter drama. That intensified as the Cowboys punted with 4:15 to go, giving Pittsburgh the ball and a chance for the lead.
But O'Donnell's first pass was incomplete but was a better result than his next throw produced. Brown intercepted a throw intended for Corey Holliday.
Despite Smith's two touchdowns, the Steelers' defense constantly thwarted the NFL rushing champion. But menacing rushers Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd never could consistently penetrate the Cowboys' protective wall around Aikman.
In leading the Cowboys to points on their first three possessions, Aikman completed 10 consecutive passes and was 11-of-15 during the first half. He had a three-yard touchdown pass to Jay Novacek and lost another when Irvin was called for offensive interference to nullify a touchdown reception.
"We felt we had controlled the ballgame in the first half, but we hadn't been able to take control on the scoreboard," Aikman said.
In their three previous Super Bowl triumphs, the Cowboys had never taken so long to overcome their adversary. But the Cowboys put down the Steelers and defeated their own various devils.
"You can put the other two together, and this one outweighs them," Irvin said. "That's because of what we went through this year, because of the times people counted us out. We got a little bit closer, turned in a little bit more and got it done. Bottom line, we got it done."