Tampa, Fla. Three plays, three touchdowns.
In a Super Bowl in which points were supposed to be at a premium, three touchdown returns on consecutive plays consumed just 36 seconds in the third quarter. The quick scores provided a flurry of action to a punt-filled 34-7 Baltimore rout of the New York Giants on Sunday.
The Ravens got the best of the touchdown exchange, scoring on a 49-yard interception return by Duane Starks and an 84-yard kickoff return by Jermaine Lewis, sandwiched around Ron Dixon's 97-yard touchdown return for the Giants.
"I thought the Giants had some momentum (after Dixon's return) since they weren't moving offensively," Lewis said. "Since a lot of the same guys are on kickoff returns and kickoffs, I figured they would be a little tired, so I wanted to take advantage of it."
He did just that, giving the Ravens a 24-7 lead and effectively ending any hope the Giants had of a comeback.
The return by Starks gave the Ravens a 17-0 advantage, a seemingly insurmountable margin against a virtually immovable Baltimore defense that seemed poised to get the first shutout in Super Bowl history.
But Dixon, the rookie who also had a return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff in New York's playoff victory over Philadelphia, gave the Giants some life with his 97-yard dash up the middle.
"I was hoping it would turn things around, give us an emotional lift," said Dixon, who developed a leg cramp at midfield during his return.
"I was receiving treatment on the sideline when I just caught a glimpse of Lewis running on the big screen," he said.
Asked how he could keep running through the cramp, he said, "I had to score. I had to run through the pain."
On Lewis' return, he found a lane and tightroped down the sideline for a touchdown with 3:13 left in the quarter.
"He gave an extra hop on his delivery that I saw on film, and I knew he was going to throw the ball, so I broke on it," Starks said. "I told everyone this was not going to be a boring Super Bowl, and those three quick touchdowns proved that."
Starks said the Ravens' defenders were disappointed to lose a chance at the first Super Bowl shutout because of Dixon's return.
"As a team, it was disappointing, but in our hearts we got a shutout as a defense," Starks said.