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No getting Burns to crow in Falcons' doubly sweet win; Calling shots vs. Vikings proved point to ex-team, but coach isn't smirking; SUPER BOWL XXXIII


Jack Burns is refusing to gloat this week.

The quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons, Burns called the plays when the Falcons upset the Minnesota Vikings a week ago in the NFC title game to advance to Super Bowl XXXIII.

It was especially satisfying for him because he was sacked as the Vikings' offensive coordinator three games into the 1993 season and replaced by Brian Billick, who parlayed that job into the Ravens' head-coaching post.

Burns was offered another job in the Vikings' organization, but went back to the college ranks and then was hired by Atlanta last year.

He refuses to admit it was satisfying to trump the man who replaced him in Minnesota. He'll only talk about what it meant to the team.

"It was very personally satisfying that we got a win," he said. "It means a lot to our football team to be able to go in there and do that. It puts you in position and gives you the strength and character the next time you have to go into that situation to handle it and be able to go through it again," he said.

Of the fact Burns was able to knock the team that demoted him out of the Super Bowl, he said: "A few years ago, I was heading to Minnesota buying a wool coat. Now, I'm in Atlanta getting ready to play in the Super Bowl. The road takes a lot of turns."

He added: "Whatever happens happens. That's way back in the past. I wouldn't have had a chance to come here and be a part of this. It's one of the greatest stories in a long time in the NFL."

Of his departure from Minnesota, he said: "Denny [Green] just decided to make a change. He wanted to go to the West Coast offense, which is fine."

Burns, who won a Super Bowl ring in 1991 as a member of Joe Gibbs' staff in Washington when the Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills, runs a more power-oriented offense, in contrast to the pass-oriented, West Coast offense.

He was thrust into play-calling duties for the Falcons when coach Dan Reeves underwent heart surgery, but he said it wasn't much of a change.

"He and I think on the same page," Burns said.

Prizes dangled

There are usually more press conferences at the Super Bowl than most writers have time to cover.

So the Ravens and PSINet decided to try an unusual way to attract writers to an open house today at the Super Bowl media hotel that is supposed to "celebrate a partnership that brings fans closer to a team than ever before."

According to invitations slipped under the doors of the writers' hotel rooms that read, "Have fun and win prizes," they're offering eight 27-inch TV sets, eight camcorders and four DVD players to writers who attend the news conference.

Half the prizes will go to winners of a trivia contest and the other half will go to writers picked in a random drawing.

The Ravens and PSINet also promise to serve "authentic Maryland crab cakes."

Broncos don't wait

Borrowing a page from the San Francisco 49ers' playbook, the Broncos again have installed their Super Bowl game plan two weeks before the showdown.

Quarterback John Elway says that's much preferable to putting in the game plan the week of the event, as the Broncos did for all three of their Super Bowl losses in the 1980s.

"There are so many distractions that it's nice to have an idea of what you're going to run before you come down here," he said, "so when you get here, you can just polish it."

Denver coach Mike Shanahan was an assistant under then Broncos coach Dan Reeves in those three Super Bowl losses. He came up with the idea to install the game plan early during a three-year stint with the 49ers.

Reeves, on the other hand, was still drawing up his plan this week.

End-zone moves

The Broncos and Falcons won't just battle on the field on Sunday; they'll also compete in the end zone with their touchdown celebrations.

The Broncos unveiled the Mile High Salute a year ago, but the Falcons have the year's hottest celebration, the Dirty Bird.

"I read in the paper today where [Atlanta's] Tony Martin said the Dirty Bird is better than the Mile High Salute," said Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe. "It's only better if you win the game."

Shanahan happy

The Broncos spent 30 minutes on special-teams play during a two-hour workout yesterday at the Miami Dolphins' practice facility in Davie, Fla.

"It was a good practice," Shanahan said. "Real spirited. We got lots of work done and the concentration level was where you're hoping it would be.

"Everybody was pretty sharp. They practiced well. There were no offsides, very few mistakes. I was pleased with the attention level."

Injury report

Denver vs. Atlanta

BRONCOS: Probable: RB Vaughn Hebron (hamstring); DE Neil Smith (abdomen); CB Darrien Gordon (shoulder); QB John Elway (ribs); S Eric Brown (groin); RB Terrell Davis (groin); S Tyrone Braxton (shoulder); T Tony Jones (knee); LB Keith Burns (shoulder); DT Harald Hasselbach (ankle); FB Howard Griffith (knee); S Steve Atwater (shoulder); WR Justin Armour (hamstring); RB Derek Loville (ankle); G-C David Diaz-Infante (knee); G Dan Neil (knee); G Mark Schlereth (knee).

FALCONS: Questionable: DE Lester Archambeau (ankle); FB-TE Brian Kozlowski (ankle). Probable: S Devin Bush (hamstring), DE Chuck Smith (leg).

Pub Date: 1/28/99

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