21 ‘s heroics
The 1996 NFL regular season, saw Desmond Howard lead the NFL in punt return attempts, yards, and touchdowns.
His 875 punt return yards that season, shattered the NFL record, and still stands as the record today. Howard’s heroics in the regular season were remarkable, but it was his heroics in the Super Bowl which elevate him to a Packers’ legend.
Super Bowl 31 saw the Green Bay Packers face Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots. The Patriots were led by quarterback and running back , but were outmatched from the start. The Packers took a 27-14 lead into halftime, and looked to have the game all but wrapped up.
The Patriots responded with a touchdown in the third quarter which put them within six points with momentum on their side. Patriots kicker Adam Viniateri kicked the ball of to the Packers 1 yard line to Howard who then took off.
Howard went 99 yards to score before the Packers capitalized on a two-point conversion attempt. Their 14-point lead essentially put the game out of reach and gave the Packers their first Super Bowl since the Vince Lombardi era.
Howard finished with four kick returns for a total of 154 yards with a touchdown, while also accumulating 90 punt return yards as well.
Parcells said after the game, “We had a lot of momentum, and our defense was playing better. But [Howard] made the big play. That return was the game right there. He’s been great all year, and he was great again today.”