TAMPA, Fla. -- As the ball floated high into the cool evening air and a stadium held its breath, Ottis Anderson grasped the moment, clenched his fists and laughed.
Laughed long and hard when neither he nor any of the 73,813 fans at Tampa Stadium knew if Scott Norwood's 47-yard field-goal attempt would push Buffalo past the New York Giants in yesterday's Super Bowl.
To his side, a cluster of teammates huddled and prayed. Others watched in stony silence. Anderson laughed.
"We had done all we could do," Anderson said. "It was up to the Man Above."
The ball went wide right. Anderson paused, gave thanks, then broke into riotous celebration.
Giants 20, Bills 19.
In the blink of an eye, Anderson became Most Valuable Player in the 25th Super Bowl.
And why not?
His performance was one for the ages. Name the last 34-year-old MVP in a Super Bowl. Name the last 34-year-old running back who rushed for 102 yards and scored one touchdown on Super Sunday.
Anderson, of course, had been here before. In 1987, when the Giants beat Denver 39-20, he got a ring, and that's about it. Anderson was an afterthought, a forgotten man on a team with a star runner named Joe Morris.
"I was a spectator," said Anderson, whom the Giants acquired in a trade with St. Louis in 1986. "I was the guy nominated to be a 'Where Is He Now?' candidate."
Fitting irony. Anderson was the most sought-after interview after yesterday's game. "How do I feel?" he asked. "I feel tired. I don't feel old, though. I feel like a guy who ran the ball 21 times."
Anderson, who has rushed for more than 10,000 yards in 12 NFL seasons, ran like a rookie. He, as much as anyone, kept Buffalo's no-huddle offense on the bench. He ran off tackle. He burst up the middle. He swept around end. He killed the Bills.
And he didn't look old, nor feel old.
"I felt like I did when I was 24, 25," he said.
Teammate Carl Banks, a linebacker, disagreed.
Said Banks, "He looked every bit of 21."
A player for the ages.