Tuesday, November 28, 1989


The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Cofer, given a reprieve by a penalty, kicked a 45-yard field goal with 4 minutes 12 seconds remaining Monday night to put the San Francisco 49ers ahead to stay in a 34-24 victory over the New York Giants.

Cofer had missed badly from 50 yards, but got a second chance because New York's Ryna Thompson had lined up offside in the National Football League game.

Joe Montana threw three touchdown passes, Pierce Holt had four of the 49ers' seven sacks and the San Francisco defense forced five tunrovers as the 49ers took the inside track to the home advantage in the NFC playoffs by winning the matchup of teams with 9-2 records.

The Giants, boasting the stingiest defense in the conference (allowing 16 points per game), allowed Montana to improve his league-leading 70 percent completion rate, completing 27 of 33 passes for 292 yards.

Montana's scoring passes were in the first half as the defending Super Bowl champions moved to a 24-7 lead. But Phil Simms brought the Giants back, engineering two second-half touchdowns drived and eventually tying the score at 24.

After Cofer's field goal, however, Simms was intercepted for the third time in the game, by Eric Wright, an East St. Louis Assumption product. Wright's 18th career interception set up Tom Rathman's 1-yard insurance TD with 1:08 remaining.

Tempers flared between the bitter rivals as Montana's precision passing led the 49ers to a 24-10 first-half lead. Montana connected on 17 of his first 18 passes for 195 yards.

The Giants held the 49ers to 31 yards rushing in the first half, but couldn't stop San Francisco's air attack, which saw Jerry Rice, Brent Jones and John Taylor each catch touchdown passes.

No fights broke out, but several times players shoved each other angrily after plays ended as tension between the teams was heightened by injuries and the high stakes involved in the outcome.

Montana hit his first six passes, including a 37-yarder to Rice and a 4-yarder to Taylor in the corner of the end zone. The Giants came right back, driving 82 yards in 15 plays as they tied the score 7-7 on Ottis Anderson's 2-yard run.