Monday, October 8, 1990


Associated Press

HOUSTON -- A most untimely timeout Sunday did in the Houston Oilers and helped the San Francisco 49ers set a National Football League record for consecutive road victories.

After struggling the entire game to catch the fast-starting Oilers (2-3), Joe Montana got the break he needed and threw his third touchdown pass, a 46-yarder to John Taylor, for a 24-21 victory and the record 12th consecutive triumph on the road.

Montana hit the winning touchdown on the first play after backup quarterback Steve Young came into the game and fumbled. The Oilers' Ray Childress recovered the ball, but the play was nullified because Houston called time out before the play started.

Montana, shaken up on the previous play, returned and found Taylor, who broke away from cornerback Cris Dishman at the Oilers' 43-yard line and ran into the end zone with 6 minutes 51 seconds remaining to play.

Oilers coach Jack Pardee said time was called to set up the Oilers' defense.

''With Young coming in, we weren't sure who else was in the game,'' Pardee said. ''We were expecting Young to bootleg for the first down and we weren't sure of our own personnel. It was such a key play we wanted to set it up to get him stopped.''

George Seifert, coach of the 49ers (4-0), said he also considered a timeout.

''In that situation, it's confusing,'' Seifert said. ''We were going to call a time, but we decided to just go ahead and run the play.''

The play ran perfectly, capping yet another comeback by Montana and the Super Bowl champions. The touchdown pass was Montana's third - earlier he hit Taylor on a 78-yard play and Jerry Rice with a 6-yarder.

The 49ers' Roger Craig set a record for career receptions by a running back with 494.

''Our defense has been playing well and they gave us the opportunity to get back in the game,'' Montana said. ''They took up the slack for us. We were running plays designed to clear out the middle and get man-to-man coverage. We started calling more crossing routes to get the man-to-man matchups.''

Warren Moon completed touchdown passes of 30 yards to Drew Hill and 18 yards to Haywood Jeffires and sneaked 1-yard for a score, giving the Oilers a 21-14 lead entering the fourth quarter.

''We had been very successful before,'' Moon said. ''Then we didn't execute when we had to. The what-ifs and might-have-beens may haunt me for a couple of days, but then I have to get ready for Cincinnati.

''We didn't lose our poise; we just didn't execute well.''

The 49ers narrowed the gap to 21-17 on a 23-yard field goal by Mike Cofer with 11:36 to play. The kick was set up by Montana's passes of 32 and 22 yards to Brent Jones. The 22-yarder gave the 49ers a first down at the Oilers' 7.

''It was so close and yet so far,'' Pardee said. ''This was the kind of day we expected. We jumped up and got some turnovers and the offense got the ball right away. Usually, five or six plays make the difference, and it was probably fewer than that today.''

Montana quickly erased a 14-7 halftime deficit in the third quarter with the 78-yard pass to Taylor, who had beaten Dishman when he caught the ball at the 50-yard line. He raced down the sideline for the score.

The Oilers took the lead back on Moon's pass to Jeffires, who dropped a pass at the 49ers' 15 earlier in the drive. Jeffires beat Eric Davis to the end zone, atoning for his drop.

Montana finished with 318 yards, completing 20 of 28 passes. Taylor caught four passes for 132 yards and Rice had 78 yards on six receptions.

Moon performed like the star of a Montana highlight film in the first half. He scored on a 1-yard sneak and threw the 30-yard TD to Hill on the first play after Richard Johnson's interception.

Montana rallied the 49ers with the 6-yard TD pass to Rice in a drive that benefited from instant replay. Montana's 15-yard completion to Rice at the 9 was ruled incomplete on the field, but reversed after a replay showed Rice got both feet inbounds.