Joe Montana’s Finest Hour

With the Eagles taking on the 49ers this Sunday, we look back at a memorable game between these two teams.

It was week 3 of the 1989 season, and the Eagles were taking on the 49ers at the Vet. The Niners were the defending champs, the Eagles were seen as a team on the rise. As one of the announcers said in the pregame show, “Could we be seeing the team of the 80s taking on the team of the 90s?” The Eagles had started the season 2-0, and were looking to go 3-0 for only the 3rd time since 1955. With a 28-17 lead with 8 minutes left in the 4th, it looked like all but a certainty. And then Joe Montana put on one of the greatest 4th quarter performances in NFL history. This from a 1989 article in SI:

Not counting the two plays in which he fell on the ball to run out the clock, the 49ers had the ball four times for a total of less than six minutes in the fourth quarter. In that time Montana completed 11 of 12 throws for 227 yards, including touchdown passes of 70, eight, 24 and 33 yards to wide receiver John Taylor, fullback Tom Rathman, tight end Brent Jones and wide receiver Jerry Rice, respectively. “You relish being in those situations,” the happy but typically blase Montana said afterward. Philadelphia had thought it was pretty good at winning this kind of game until it met the experts. The week before, the Eagles had scored 21 fourth-quarter points to beat the Washington Redskins 42-37. Now the same thing had happened to them. “The difference between our fourth quarter last week and this one?” said Eagle quarterback Randall Cunningham. ” Joe Montana.”

You can watch video of most of those last 8 minutes here, though you’ll have the listen to the insufferable Terry Bradshaw do color commentary. My God, he’s awful. Here’s a short video about that comeback on NFL.com. The 49ers would win the Super Bowl that year. The Eagles would lose in the wild card round to the Rams.