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Super Bowl XXI

Giants vs. Broncos

January 25, 1987

Rose Bowl • Pasadena, Calif.


      Yrs 1986 crew College Prev. Playoff Prev. SB
R 9 Jerry Markbreit 11   Illinois DIV SF-NYG XVII
U 101 Bob Boylston 9 Barth Alabama WC LA Rams-WAS  
HL 72 Terry Gierke 6 McCarter Portland State WC LA Rams-WAS  
LJ 59 Bob Beeks 19 Tunney Lincoln DIV SF-NYG XIV, XVI, XVIII
FJ 82 Pat Mallette 18 Wyant Nebraska WC KC-NYJ  
SJ 90 Gil Mace 13 Tunney Westminster DIV WAS-CHI  
BJ 92 Jim Poole 12 Haggerty San Diego State DIV NE-DEN  
  • Replay official: Art McNally
  • Replay assistant: Jack Reader
  • Alternates:
    • Referee: Chuck Heberling
    • Umpire: Hendi Ancich
  • Coin toss: Willie Davis (Hall of Fame defensive end for Browns and Packers)

This was the first Super Bowl to have a replay official.

[Include patches/uniform alterations for the Super Bowl/season here. None for XXI]

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First replay review misses decisive angle

[Originally appeared as #9 on our list of 50 Super Bowl calls.]

Covering officials: R Jerry Markbreit, replay official Art McNally.

Instant replay made its first appearance in a Super Bowl when the Broncos faced the Giants for Super Bowl XXI. With about three minutes left in the first half, the Broncos had the ball deep in their own territory. Broncos quarterback John Elway threw a 25-yard pass downfield to tight end Clarence Kay. The initial call on the field, was that Kay did not have control of the ball when he went down, making the pass incomplete.

After the ruling, director of officiating Art McNally, working the game as a replay judge, paged the officials on the field to signal that instant replay would take a look. As referee Jerry Markbreit, now in his second Super Bowl, waited for the decision to come down, CBS showed several views that were inconclusive. At the time, the replay official was solely responsible for making the decision to overturn a call. When Markbreit received the call from the replay booth, he announced that the call had been confirmed. On the next play, Elway was sacked in the end zone for a safety.

This turned out to be wrong, though. When the half came to a close, CBS was able to find an angle that conclusively showed that Kay had caught the ball. This play certainly had an influence when replay would be reinstituted in 1999. The replay booth would get all the same views as the broadcaster; the decision was made in concert with the referee; and “stands” was introduced for cases where the available views cannot provide conclusive proof either way. — Marcus Griep