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“Isn’t that John Candy?”

That’s what quarterback Joe Montana says to tackle Harris Barton in the huddle in Super Bowl XXIII with 3:20 minutes left on the clock and the San Francisco 49ers on their own eight yard line, trailing the Cincinnati Bengals by three. It’s classic Montana, who always seems capable of one more clutch comeback, methodically moving his team down the field. With the game on the line, Montana’s seemingly nonchalant remark about sighting the large comedy actor breaks the tension in the huddle and cements the quarterback’s image as “Joe Cool.” Says Montana of the reaction to his remark:

“Some of the guys seemed more than normally tense, especially Harris Barton, a great offensive tackle who has a tendency to get nervous. (After the comment) everybody kind of smiled, and even Harris relaxed, and then we all concentrated on the job we had to do.”

It’s the second meeting of Coach Bill Walsh’s 49ers and the Bengals in the Super Bowl. Montana and the 49ers beat Cincinnati on January 24, 1982, 26 to 21, to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

Already lionized for his part in “The Catch” by Dwight Clark in the 1982 NFC Championship Game, seven years earlier. Montana now executes what many 49er fans refer to as “The Drive,” taking his team 92 yards in 11 plays to win the game. With 1:15 left in the game, the 49ers are on the Bengal’s 45-yard line, facing second down and 20 after a penalty. Montana connects with Jerry Rice for a 27-yard completion. Rice catches the ball at the 33-yard line but weaves between defenders down to the 18–yard line.  A 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor delivers the 20-13 victory with 39 seconds left on the clock.  Rice is named the game’s MVP. Montana says he’s going to Disney World.

TOP PHOTO: San Francisco 49ers promotional materials (in the collection of the California State Library)