Monday, January 15, 1990
MONTANA ALMOST FLAWLESS AS 49ERS SHEAR RAMS 30-3
By Bernie Miklasz
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
SAN FRANCISCO --The Team of the '80s isn't stopping now, just because it's
a new decade. Attention, jewelry store owners: It's almost time to order
some more Super Bowl rings for the San Francisco 49ers, who have their greedy
fingers extended for a fourth fitting.
Using the precision passing of quarterback Joe Montana, who was virtually
flawless in completing 26 of 30 passes, the 49ers routed the Los Angeles
Rams 30-3 Sunday in the National Football Conference championship game before
64,769 at Candlestick Park.
"It was vintage Joe,'' 49ers head coach George Seifert said. ''He just
keeps getting better and better.''
The 49ers advanced to Super Bowl XIV on Jan. 28 in New Orleans. A victory
over the Denver Broncos would give the 49ers four Super Bowl titles, tying
the National Football League record held by the Pittsburgh Steelers' teams
of the 1970s.
The 49ers (16-2) also will be attempting to become the first team to win
successive NFL championships since the 1978-79 Steelers. And you have to
like their chances. The 49ers are 3-0 in Super Bowls; the Broncos are 0-3.
And Montana wants one more.
''Last year when we got our rings,'' 49ers linebacker Michael Walter said,
''Joe said something to us. 'I've done a lot, but one thing I really want
to do is repeat. We haven't done that yet.' In the time I've been here,
I've heard Joe say maybe three things. When he talks like that, we listen.''
The Big Red Machine keeps chewing up anyone in the way. In their two playoff
victories, the 49ers have outscored the Minnesota Vikings and Rams by a
combined 71-16 score. Wow!
The Rams were considered a legitimate threat to upset the 49ers but fizzled
after taking a 3-0 lead early in the game.
Montana quickly and efficiently ended any debate concerning his status as
the NFL's best quarterback, outclassing a nervous Jim Everett in a typical
''The poise that Joe shows in these kind of games is just amazing,'' Seifert
An emerging leader, Everett played brilliantly in the two playoff victories
that pushed the Rams to their date with the 49ers. But when Montana smells
postseason money, look out. No one is better, and Montana carved up the
Rams all afternoon with short passes.
Montana completed 18 of 21 passes for 198 yards in the first half, staking
the 49ers to a 21-3 lead. Then he spent most of the second half handing
off to his big backs, Roger Craig and Tom Rathman, who wore down the Rams
in the mud to set up three Mike Cofer field goals.
Montana's two touchdown passes gave him 31 for his postseason career, breaking
the record of 30 by Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw.
The 49ers put together a devastating mix. Craig rushed 23 times for 93 yards
and a touchdown. Rathman rushed for 63 yards and caught six passes for 48
yards. Eight different 49ers caught Montana passes. The 49ers rolled up
442 yards and 29 first downs.
Everett was intercepted three times and completed only 16 of 36 passes for
141 yards. His big-play receiver, Flipper Anderson, was held to one catch.
In the first quarter, while the Rams still had a chance, Everett badly underthrew
Anderson on a bomb that should have resulted in a touchdown. It was an omen.
The Rams may prove to be the Team of the '90s. And the promising Everett
may be the heir to Montana's throne. But the 49ers, and Montana, weren't
willing to abdicate.
The unofficial surrender came late in the third quarter when a harried Everett
elected to fall down, untouched, as the 49ers' pass rushers closed in on
him. Forget a comeback; mentally, the Rams were finished. Everett brought
the Rams from behind to beat the New York Giants a week earlier, but there
would be no Everett miracles on this day.
''We took the fight out of him,'' 49ers defensive end Larry Roberts said.
''We knew that when he went down.''
The Rams managed only 156 total yards and nine first downs, and ran only
47 plays to the Niners' 76. The 49ers had a huge edge in possession time,
39 minutes 48 seconds to 20:12.
''They dominated,'' Rams coach John Robinson said, ''and that's an understatement.''
In reality, Montana put the game away late in the first half, engineering
an immaculate drive that must rank as one of the best in his 11-year career.
Leading 14-3, the 49ers started at their 13-yard line with 3:10 remaining.
What happened from there will go on the Montana highlight reel. Officially,
Montana took them 87 yards in 14 plays. But en route, the 49ers had to overcome
a 15-yard penalty, meaning that the drive actually covered 102 yards. The
49ers went the final 82 yards after the two-minute warning.
''We've got the kind of man who can handle that situation better than anyone
else in football,'' Seifert said. ''He's the best there's ever been.''
Montana completed eight of 10 passes in the drive, distributing the ball
to five different receivers, and hit John Taylor between two defensive backs
for an 18-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds remaining. That put the
Rams down by 18 points, 21-3, and they could have gone home to Disneyland.
''Montana just spun our heads around,'' said Rams pass-rusher Kevin Greene
of Granite City. ''We couldn't stop him. He just kept finding his guys.''
The Rams' defense, which allowed more yards passing than any other NFL team
this season, was helpless. Remarkably, Montana's longest completion of the
game went for only 20 yards. The scalpel, not the bomb, was Montana's weapon
After Mike Lansford kicked a 30-yard field goal on the Rams' first possession
for a 3-0 lead, Montana put the 49ers ahead to stay with a 20-yard touchdown
pass to tight end Brent Jones with 3:33 elapsed in the second quarter.
The Rams began to self-destruct. An Everett pass was tipped by cornerback
Don Griffin and intercepted by nickel back Tim McKyer, who returned it 27
yards to the Los Angeles 27-yard line. It set up Craig's 1-yard touchdown
for a 14-3 lead.
Montana had one more left: The Drive. Now, the 49ers have only one more
game left: The Super Bowl. The Broncos had better bring their best defense.