Montana and Co. Beat the Killer Bees and Marino
The league's best two teams squared off for the championship. The Dolphins had the "Killer Bee" defense and a killer passing attack featuring Dan Marino and the Marks Brothers. The 49ers had a versatile offense and a mobile defense, both devised by strategic master Bill Walsh. On the same day that Ronald Reagan took his second presidential oath, Stanford Stadium rocked with the cheers of 84,059 fans.
Marino lived up to his advance notices early in the first quarter. He completed 9 out of 10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Miami twice launched sustained drives and had a 10-7 lead after 15 minutes. The second quarter brought a shift in momentum. The 49ers adjusted their defense by using five defensive backs and playing Fred Dean in a four-man line. The new alignment blanketed Mark Duper and Mark Clayton and kept a steady pressure on Marino. With their offense stalled, the Dolphins had the misfortune of several bad punts by Reggie Roby. After a 37-yard punt, the 49ers took four plays to reach the endzone. On the next Miami drive, Roby kicked a 40-yard line drive that Dana McLemore returned 28 yards to the San Francisco 45-yard line. Six plays later, Joe Montana dashed 6 yards for another touchdown. Another weak Roby punt set up a nine-play San Francisco drive, giving the 49ers a 28-10 lead. The Dolphins did respond with a field goal 22 seconds before halftime. On the perfunctory kickoff, San Francisco guard Guy McIntyre picked up the squib kick and promptly fumbled it away. The Dolphins rushed their field goal team onto the field and closed the gap to 28-16 at the half.
In need of a big second half, the Dolphins couldn't keep the momentum generated by McIntyre's blunder. The 49ers gave Marino little time to throw and sacked him three times early in the third quarter. The San Francisco offense, meanwhile, continued its steady advance against the "Killer Bee" defense. It added a field goal and a touchdown to run the score to 38-16 by the end of the period. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
Kudos were due for many of the 49ers. The San Francisco defense held Miami to 25 rushing yards and sacked Marino four times. Fullback Roger Craig set a Super Bowl record by scoring three touchdowns, less with heroics than by fitting perfectly into the balanced offense. Leading that offense was Montana, the MVP of the game. He passed for a record 331 yards, threw three touchdowns and ran for 59 yards, more than double the Miami team total.