Super Bowl XXXI was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Green Bay Packers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1996 season.
This was the first Super Bowl broadcast by the Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox) and ended up being the highest-rated program in the history of the then 10-year-old network.
The Patriots were also considered a losing team for much of the late 1980s and early 1990s, including a dismal 1–15 regular season record in 1990.
Running back Curtis Martin would be the focal point of the rushing attack with his 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, while also catching 46 passes for another 333 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Pro Bowl running back Dave Meggett provided the team with a good special teams threat, gaining 1,369 yards and a touchdown returning kickoffs and punts, while also rushing for 122 yards and catching 33 passes for 292 yards.
The Packers' fortunes turned after head coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre joined the team in 1992.
The Patriots' rise began in 1993 when Bill Parcells was hired as head coach, and the team drafted quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
The Packers then scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter, including Favre's Super Bowl record 81-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antonio Freeman (this record was broken later, by Jake Delhomme and Muhsin Muhammad in Super Bowl XXXVIII).
In the third quarter, the Patriots cut the lead to 27–21 off of running back Curtis Martin's 18-yard rushing touchdown.
Howard became the first special teams player ever to be named Super Bowl MVP.