It’s been 20 years since former Mizzou Tigers running back Mike Jones made one of the biggest plays in NFL history. It came during Super Bowl XXXIV for the St. Louis Rams. And it gave his home-state Rams their first Super Bowl championship.
Instead, he switched to linebacker when he signed with the Los Angeles Raiders as an undrafted free agent. After a World League stop for the Sacramento Surge, Jones rejoined the Raiders and the NFL, where he would spend the first five years of his career.
Jones, a Kansas City native, returned to Missouri when he signed with the St. Louis Rams in 1997, where the team struggled for the first two seasons. Then came 1999, and the “Greatest Show on Turf” began.
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St. Louis finished 13-3 and had one of the best offenses in NFL history led by quarterback Kurt Warner. The future Hall of Famer guided an offense with so many weapons, including Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Ricky Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakim.
The team averaged 32.9 points per game, and Warner was named the NFL’s MVP; Faulk, the Offensive Player of the Year.
But it was the defense, and Jones, that helped the Rams during their Super Bowl run.
St. Louis defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-6 in the NFC Championship game and met up with the Tennessee Titans for Super Bowl XXXIV on Jan. 30, 2000.
Just like the game prior to the Super Bowl, it was a defensive battle through three quarters.
Late in the game and tied at 16, Warner hit Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown to take a seven-point lead with less than 2 minutes to play. It was up to the Rams defense to hold the lead, and Jones made sure they would do so with one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history, one that helped give a Missouri pro team the title.
Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair took over at his own 12-yard line and led the team down field, completing passes to Derek Mason, Kevin Dyson and Frank Wycheck. Late in the drive, McNair hit Dyson to get to the Rams 10-yard line with six seconds left. That set up what became known as “The Tackle.”
McNair hit Dyson across the middle on a slant, and Jones wrapped up the receiver near the 2-yard line. Jones brought him down just as he stretched toward the end zone, but he hit the ground without the ball across the goal line. Jones made the game-winning tackle.
The play became a Top 10 Super Bowl moment, and it remains that way 20 years later.
Jones will always be known for that great stand. He played one more season with the Rams before going to the Pittsburgh Steelers and making one more stop with the Oakland Raiders. The Mizzou Tiger finished his career with 620 tackles, eight interceptions, 17 passes defended, six forced fumbles and nine sacks.
And one of the greatest tackles ever.