The history of the National Football League is filled with many great players, teams, coaches and iconic moments. The most iconic moments in the game involve all of the above. One of the most iconic moments in the game was “the catch”.
In 1981 the San Francisco 49ers were facing the Dallas Cowboys, a team that had dominated the NFC in the 1970’s. The 49ers had hired Bill Walsh in 1979 following a 2-14 season and he made Joe Montana the starter in 1980 and in 1981 they found themselves facing America’s Team for a chance to go to Super Bowl XVI. It was Walsh facing off against Tom Landry and Joe Montana facing off against the Doomsday Defense.
The game was an epic battle that went back and forth. In the 4th quarter the 49ers were trailing 27-21 when they took over with the ball at their own 11 yard line. Joe Montana, as he became famous for doing, led the 49ers down the field until they were at the Cowboys 6 yard line with 58 seconds left and facing a crucial 3rd down play. The 49ers went to a play that worked for a TD earlier in the game; the play is famously called Sprint Right Option. The intended target was Freddie Solomon, but the Cowboys smelled it out and had him completely covered. Montana had to look elsewhere, but he was under heavy pressure from D.D. Lewis, Larry Bethea and the 6 foot 9 inch Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Montana continued to back pedal and looked like he was going to throw the ball away when he pump faked and got Jones to jump and then threw a high pass to the back of the end zone that was grabbed by a leaping Dwight Clark by his fingertips to score the go ahead TD, “The Catch”.
The Cowboys had a chance to with 51 seconds left and only needing a FG, but Danny White, the Cowboys quarterback, was sacked and fumbled the ball spoiling their chances. The 49ers went on the win Super Bowl XVI over the Bengals and became the team of 1980’s and won 3 more Super Bowls. The reason this catch became so famous also has to do with NFL Films. It was NFL Films that had the camera down behind the endzone that caught the best view of the catch. I was 7 years old when “The Catch” occurred and watching the replays and seeing how amazing the shot was of Montana throwing over Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Clark making the improbable catch just blew me away, and it still does to this day. The catch made by David Tyree of the Giants in Super Bowl XLII was great but Montana to Clark is and will always be “The Catch”.