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FEBRUARY 7, 2016
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Posted: January 27, 1997

Super Bowl XXXI MVP: Desmond Howard wire reports

Desmond Howard

Desmond Howard enjoyed a celebrated college football career, winning the Heisman Trophy while starring at the University of Michigan in 1991. His pro football career, however, was judged more by potential than actual production.

But in 1996, Howard finally made his mark in the NFL. He picked the perfect stage, too, to showcase his ability -- Super Bowl XXXI.

Signed as a free agent, Howard found his niche as the Packers' return specialist. He led the NFL with a 15.1-yard punt return average and punt returns for touchdowns with 3. He took back a punt 92 yards for a TD in Green Bay's regular-season finale against Detroit and continued his roll into the postseason.

Against the 49ers, Howard set a team record with 117 punt return yards on just two attempts, including a 71-yarder. In the NFC Championship Game against the Panthers, Howard returned 4 kickoffs for 104 yards, including a 46-yarder, as the Packers advanced to their first Super Bowl in 29 years.

Then against New England at the Superdome, Howard made his mark in Super Bowl lore, personally putting a stop to the Patriots' third-quarter comeback with a record 99-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Ironically, Howard didn't think he had a chance at winning the MVP. "I really didn't expect them to be kicking the ball that much," he said.

Howard got his kicks -- and then some -- in Super Bowl XXXI.