MIAMI - The story is so perfect, so beyond belief, that it has to be apocryphal. Joe Montana, standing in the huddle with his team needing to drive 92 yards in three minutes to win the Super Bowl, about to call a play, when he suddenly looks up into the stands and says "Hey, isn't that John Candy?" His nervous teammates had a laugh, calmed down, and proceeded down field for the most famous drive in Super Bowl history.
Of course, the story is all the more better because it's true. It's the moment that officially cemented Montana's legend as Joe Cool, the unflappable leader who was impossible to beat when it mattered most.
The Bengals had just taken a 16-13 lead when the 49ers took over with just more than three minutes to play, and Cincinnati figured Montana would try to throw passes toward the sideline so his receivers could get out of bounds to stop the clock. With the Bengals defending the sideline, Montana's threw his first three passes down the middle of the field. The drive off to a good start, Montana had the 49ers down to the Bengals' 35-yard line three plays later.
An incomplete pass and an offensive penalty seemed to stall the drive, but Montana found Jerry Rice for a 27-yard catch and run on second and 20, putting the ball at the Cincinnati 18. An 8-yard pass to Craig came next, followed by Montana's famous slant route to John Taylor for the winning touchdown with 37 seconds left.
Rice was named the MVP for his 215 receiving yards, but it could have gone to Montana just as easily. Montana threw for a Super Bowl record 357 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the fourth quarter. Craig ran for 81 yards and became the first running back to have more than 100 receiving yars in a Super Bowl. And while the game-winning score was Taylor's only catch of the game, he had 56 yards returning punts.
But maybe the true MVP was John Candy, who by merely showing up helped calm the nerves of the 49ers players, and who went down forever into Super Bowl lore.
January 22, 1973: KINGSTON, Jamaica - "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!"