Want to hear something interesting? Going into Super Bowl XXIV, the Denver Broncos were the ONLY team in the NFL the 49ers hadn’t defeated during the 1980s. So in the last game of the decade…what happened?? Yikes 55-10 in a Super Bowl!!! Joe Montana and company could have scored 80 if they wanted to…As crisp as the 49ers played, what did their practices look like?? Damn!
The craziest thing was when Terry Bradshaw skirmished with John Elway that week about how Elway had been coddled…etc (remember Terry was roughed up by press and such as a young player) and after a back and forth, they sit down to talk about Super Bowl XXIV in a round table discussion and Bradshaw blurted out “I just don’t see Denver having a chance. This sucker could be as bad as 55-3!” Much to the chagrin of CBS brass trying to drum up interest for a game the press was touting as a blowout. Why 55? Eight tds, and a missed p.a.t.? Only 3 for the Broncos?
If Bill Romanowski hadn’t faceguarded (form of pass interference) Orson Mobley in the endzone to give the Broncos 1st and goal at the 1, Terry Bradshaw would have NAILED IT!! The Broncos needed 4 plays to score from their touhdown also…Terry Bradshaw is a dummy? Not on this prediction! Final score 55-10.
Has there been a better or more dominant run in a single postseason?? In dispatching the Vikings 41-13, Montana carved up the #1 defense that ranked 1st in sacks with 71. Joe was 17 of 24 for 241 yds and 4 touchdowns. In the NFC Championship, they faced their NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams. The Rams had been the scourge of the playoffs with their “Eagle Defense” with 2 D Linemen and 5 Linebackers.
No one could figure out Los Angeles hybrid defense as they befuddled Randall Cunningham’s Eagles and Phil Simms Giants. Well… Montana shredded them going 26 of 30 for 262 yds and 2 scores. Thanks to Craig, Rice, Taylor, and Rathman, San Francisco set a post season record with 29 first downs in a 30-3 slaughter. Don’t forget they split their games with them in the regular season. San Fran taught them the difference between post season and regular season play.
As for Super Bowl XXIV, Montana had his best ever game when it counted most. It almost seemed like a choreographed fight scene from a movie. Every move was countered perfectly. No matter what defense the Broncos were in Montana had an answer. The 1989 Denver Broncos were ranked 3rd in defense and had given up the fewest points in the NFL. Montana was 22 of 29 for 297 yards and 5 touchdowns and sat most of the 4th quarter.
The perfect game Bill Walsh had Montana strive for from the quarterback position he watched in a booth next to Eddie DeBartolo. George Seifert was the coach who witnessed it up close as the Head Coach. He riddled the #1 and #3 ranked defenses with 9 touchdowns and no interceptions. This was a coronation, not just the 49ers becoming team of the ’80s, but Montana unseasting Johnny Unitas as the NFL’s greatest ever quarterback.
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Other championship teams may have had more dominating regular seasons. And, in ’89, San Fran won their share of close games. Not just against good teams (Eagles and Rams, of course, first coming to mind) but also allowed the likes of Indy, Tampa Bay, Jets, and Falcons to play ’em close. But didn’t the ’78 Steelers, also 14-2, post some non-dominating regular season wins as well?
But as you say, Chancellor, the difference between regular and post season. In the ’78 playoffs, the Steelers romped through the Orange Crush and Earl Campbell only to then go up 18 on the defending-Champ Landry/Doomsday/Staubach/Dorsett-led Cowboys (albeit some controversy en route to that very 35-17 lead). Well, San Fran in the ’89 playoffs went a combined 126-26 against three teams defensive-coordinated by…FLOYD PETERS…FRITZ SHURMUR…and…WADE PHILLIPS!!! Rounding it off to strictly whole numbers, that’s an average final score of ’42-8′! Quite a bragging right as well as exemplifying the difference between regular and post-season play!
And not just walloping Shurmur, but a Robinson Rams team that usually beat them at Candlestick in the ’80s, almost swept them during the regular season! They were a rivalry! San Fran being favorite going in? Of course! They winning? Of course! They winning by over a TD, by 10 or 13? Hmm, okay. But 30-3?? Yeah, their game simply elevated by THAT MUCH once the playoffs began! Simply scary! Not even funny!
That triple-example just given (126-26 over Min/LA/Den) is the ‘Ace’ reason why this very Forty Niners squad, for my money, is a the best-ever NFL team at least since 1980 as well as being an All-Time ‘Mt Rushmore’ (top four) team! To me, they’re better than da ’85 Bears. And, if only due to “star”-power (Jerry Rice), I also place them above their ’84 version who, like those Bears, won one more game than they, both finishing 18-1 as opposed to 17-2.
Yes, ’94 seems to get historically brushed aside. I read your opinion on them. And you may have a point! ARE ’84 and ’89 each better than them? OR, could it be that with the Legend of Montana, Walsh, Lott, the ’80s, etc, that no one wants to name a lone ’90s version that doesn’t include any of those names even if that version, if seen with clear non-’80s-nostalgic-eyes, may actually be…BETTER? Oh, and those uniforms don’t help their case either, lol.
Anyways, back to ’89, or make that the year BEFORE…once the 6-5 start was out the way, they were already Next Year’s “Classic” version! They win four-straight, each convincingly, going into that ’88 finale which they lost (to the Rams) but, let’s face it, they already clinched their division and 2nd-seed going in. Then the playoffs begin and, as they would the following year, annihilate Sgt Rock’s #1 Vikings-D! Next up? Into the bitter Windy City they go and blast a Bears team that still had just enough from ’85 (despite Walter now retired) to make them at least the #2 defense in the league and finish a 12-4 top-seed in the NFC. A 62-12 total final score against both those teams that, you think, would be “too tough” for a…(insert heavy sarcasm)… “finesse” team!
In guise of that 10-6 regular season finish, San Fran went into that Super Bowl an historic juggernaut! But Wyche knew a thing or two about Walsh and that SF system, so a true chess game it’d be. Bengals did give them a game as they would do every other time they squared off against them under Wyche; even the subpar Bengal teams (see ’84 & ’87). The only AFC team who could have seriously given them a challenge in Super Bowl XXIV, would have been Cincy. But despite sweeping both Cleveland & Pittsburgh (and blasting Houston, 61-7, in Wk #15), they simply Jeckyll-and-Hyde-ed themselves out of playoff contention with that 8-8 (LAST PLACE, actually) finish! A dangerous team they would have been had they simply won that extra game! But it then would have all come down to…which team shows up??
I see that the stuff you’ve written about Montana over Brady goes back to a year before the Pats beat Seattle, the final year of that ten-year-“doughnut-hole” of a championship drought smack in the middle of the Belichick/Brady Era. That Super Bowl, to me, is when Tom started gaining serious ground on the GOAT-debate. With each Super Bowl won since besting Seattle, Brady went from “graduating” the ‘he-vs-Peyton’ debate to, now, pretty much, seeming to have sewn-up his status as “best QB ever”.
I had Joe at #1 for the longest time but “surrendered” him to Brady sometime at the beginning of the 2019 season, Tom’s last year with NE. Maybe I was wrong to do so for I still feel that there’s plenty of debate in the tank in Joe’s favor! And there, actually, could be some for Johnny U being that in his time it was simply so much tougher for QBs in so many ways! It’s hard to compare players from different eras. TEN conference championships, winning SEVEN Super Bowls is pretty obviously self-explanatory. But you make great points in your Montana post about the utterly superior defenses he cut through like a hot butter knife….
My ‘Mt Rushmore’ of QBs I’ll simply place in chronological order and leave it at that – Graham, Unitas, Montana, Brady.
And, again, the 1989 Forty Niners ‘face’ is carved on the ‘team’ Mountain as well!