Monday, December 10, 1990
49ERS SNATCH ANOTHER WIN FROM BENGALS
CINCINNATI -- Joe Montana and Jerry Rice gave the Cincinnati Bengals another
last-minute heartbreak Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers' explosive passing combination set up a game-tying
field goal by Mike Cofer with 57 seconds left in regulation, then teamed
to set up the game-winning kick in overtime for a 20-17 victory.
The Bengals' last four games against the 49ers have wound up last-minute
losses, including the last time they met - the Super Bowl two years ago,
when Rice and Montana starred in a decisive 92-yard drive.
''We play our best football when everything's on the line,'' said Rice,
who had eight catches Sunday for 101 yards. ''Once we got the ball, I knew
we were going to score.''
The 49ers (12-1) got the ball back with 4 minutes 11 seconds to play after
Ickey Woods' 1-yard touchdown run had put the Bengals ahead 17-14. Montana
drove them to Cofer's game-tying 23-yard field goal.
The 49ers then won the toss and took possession at their 19. Montana hit
Rice with passes of 14 and 17 yards to cross midfield, and converted a third
and 6 with a 7-yard pass to Rice, setting up the winning kick.
The Bengals (7-6) had trouble accepting another such loss.
''We beat that team,'' safety David Fulcher said. ''It goes the same way
again. We beat them and then we give it up.''
A lot of other teams have had the same problems against Montana and Rice,
but it was little consolation for the Bengals, who slid into a three-way
tie for first place in the American Football Conference Central Division.
Coach Sam Wyche cut his postgame comments short. ''I'm getting tired,''
he said. ''I hate to see a game go that way. That's the way it is.''
The Bengals have lost their last seven against the 49ers, including their
20-16 Super Bowl defeat two years ago on Montana's pass to John Taylor with
34 seconds left. The last time they met in the regular season, the Bengals
failed to run out the clock, leaving Montana time to throw a desperation
touchdown pass to Rice as time expired at Riverfront Stadium.
These last-minute losses may be getting old to Wyche, but Montana, his former
pupil, enjoyed a repeat ending.
''I think the world of Sam,'' Montana said. ''It's like beating your best
friend. You know how he feels, but in a lot of cases there's nobody you
like beating better.''
Once again, Montana's brilliance under last-minute pressure was the difference.
Woods' 1-yard touchdown run put Cincinnati ahead 17-14 with 12:26 to play,
and the Bengals held the 49ers on their next possession. But the Bengals
offense stalled, giving the ball back to Montana with 4:11 to play. He drove
the team 55 yards in seven plays and set up the tying kick.
Montana started the drive with a 29-yard pass to Rice, who had only one
reception last Monday in a 7-3 victory over the New York Giants.
In overtime, Rice shook free in front of a Bengals secondary that lost safety
Rickey Dixon to a broken leg late in the fourth quarter.
The victory was the 49ers' 17th in a row on the road, extending their NFL
record. Montana finished 19 of 26 passing for 185 yards and one interception.
(Following text ran in the 3* Edition only)
The Bengals offense put together two touchdown drives against a defense
missing strong safety Ronnie Lott, out because of sprained knees. Boomer
Esiason threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Craig Taylor on the Bengals' first
possession, and Woods put them ahead with his 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
It was a marked improvement for the Bengals offense, which failed to score
a touchdown in the Super Bowl loss two years ago.
Their defense made the same mistakes again, however, allowing Montana to
pick and choose his receivers. The 49ers also revived their ground game,
as Roger Craig carried 21 times for 97 yards.
After Esiason put the Bengals ahead early, Montana led a 73-yard, 17-play
drive that tied it and sapped Cincinnati's enthusiasm. San Francisco converted
four third-down plays on the drive, and Tom Rathman scored on a 1-yard run
on fourth down. Three times, Montana kept the drive alive by completing
The Bengals regained their spark at the start of the second half, driving
51 yards and setting up Jim Breech's 38-yard field goal. The Bengals had
a 20-yard touchdown pass from Esiason to James Brooks nullified by an illegal
motion penalty, their first penalty of the game, and had to settle for the
The 49ers responded with a 74-yard drive primarily on the ground, capped
by Harry Sydney's 3-yard touchdown run behind a crushing block from Rathman
late in the third quarter.
Woods then took over. He had runs of 21 and 13 yards and caught a 7-yard
pass on the drive to his go-ahead touchdown.