MINNEAPOLIS -- The streak. It has been an embarrassment for the AFC and a pride thing for the NFC.
And last night at the Metrodome, the Washington Redskins added to it with the NFC's eighth straight Super Bowl victory -- 37-24 over Buffalo -- the longest streak of domination by either conference since the game was created.
The AFC had a streak of five in the early '70s, thanks in large part to back-to-back victories by both the Dolphins and the Steelers. The Bills had the AFC's best chance to end it last season against the Giants, but Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal with four seconds left was five feet off to the right.
The Bengals also came pretty close in Super Bowl XXIII, but Joe Montana put on a miracle 92-yard drive and hit John Taylor on a 10-yard pass with 34 seconds remaining to win it, 20-16.
Other than those two games, the NFC has won easily. In fact, it has been humiliating. In the other six games in the streak, the NFC has outscored the AFC, 257-90, including the Giants 39-20 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.
How do you explain this? It really makes no sense. The conferences are drafting from the same pool of players and hiring from the same pool of coaches. The theme through all of this: The NFC has had the teams with the dominant defenses and power running games and the AFC has relied more on its quarterbacks and has yet to come into the game in nearly a decade with a smash-mouth defense.
"I don't think it has anything to do with the NFC or the AFC," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said before the Skins' win last night. "Each one of these games falls into its own category. Last year's game was decided by a field goal that could have gone in or could have gone out. San Francisco had to drive the length of the field against Cincinnati to win in the fourth quarter. So each one of those games is different and could have gone either way."
Buffalo coach Marv Levy seemed unconcerned about the streak. He thought the NFC had won only four in a row. "This is all the NFL," Levy said. "I don't think it's the NFC vs. AFC."
The NFC simply has had the better teams. And they have played with more emotion. Gibbs' teams rarely play flat and are always prepared. There's no in-fighting, they keep their mouths shut and get ready to play.