Super Bowl XIX

Super Bowl XIX
by Rob Holecko

Twenty-seven years ago today, on January 20, 1985, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX 38 to 16.  It was Joe Montana and the 49ers' second Super Bowl in four years, and it was a very memorable game.  It was played in Stanford, California, the closest a team has ever come to playing a Super Bowl in it's home stadium.  It was the first Super Bowl televised by ABC.  President Ronald Reagan, on the day of the inauguration of his second term in office, conducted the coin flip from the Oval Office.

As for the game itself, from Wikipedia:
Instead of the predicted shootout between Dan Marino and Joe Montana, the game was mostly one-sided. The 49ers defense only allowed 25 rushing yards and 16 Dolphins points. San Francisco also intercepted Marino 2 times and sacked him 4 times. The Dolphins set a Super Bowl record for least rush attempts in a game (9).

But in the opening minutes of the game, it seemed that the game would live up to the hype. On the opening kickoff, 49ers rookie kick returner Derrick Harmon caught the ball too close to the sidelines and stepped out of bounds at the San Francisco 6-yard line. The 49ers managed to advance to the 41-yard line but were forced to punt, and Dolphins defensive back Fulton Walker returned the punt 9 yards to the Miami 36-yard line. Then on their first play of the drive, Marino completed a 25-yard pass to Tony Nathan. Five plays later, Miami reached the San Francisco 23-yard line. But on third down, 49ers cornerback Eric Wright tackled wide receiver Mark Clayton 2 yards shy of the first down. Miami had to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Uwe von Schamann.

The Dolphins' 3-0 lead did not last long, as the 49ers stormed down the field on their next possession. San Francisco drove 78 yards in 8 plays, culminating in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Montana to reserve running back Carl Monroe to give them a 7-3 lead. But Miami retook the lead on their ensuing drive. After a 5-yard rush by Nathan, the Dolphins went into a no-huddle offense, preventing the 49ers from making substitutions and keeping their run defense on the field. Marino completed five consecutive passes, hitting Clayton for 18 yards, Mark Duper for 11, Clayton again for 13, and tight end Dan Johnson for 21. On the next play, Marino finished the drive by hitting Johnson for a 2-yard touchdown pass, giving the Dolphins a 10-7 lead with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the 49ers began to take control of the game. Bill Walsh switched to a 4-1-6 (or dime defense) to slow down Miami's passing attack, with Keena Turner as the sole linebacker. Miami tried to run against the 4-1-6 alignment, to no avail. Safety Dwight Hicks broke up two consecutive Marino passes, and the Dolphins were forced to punt from their own 10-yard line. Then after taking the ball at the Miami 47-yard line, Montana scrambled for a 19-yard run, and then completed a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Dwight Clark to reach the 12-yard line. From there, Wendell Tyler rushed for 4 yards, and then Montana threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Roger Craig, giving the 49ers a 14-10 lead.

Miami then had to punt again on their ensuing possession, and San Francisco defensive back Dana McLemore returned the ball 28 yards to the 49ers' 45-yard line. After advancing 15 yards with 2 running plays, Montana completed a pair of passes to tight end Russ Francis to move the ball 29 yards to the Miami 11-yard line. Craig ran for 5 yards on the next play, and then Montana ran the final 6 yards to the end zone for a touchdown, making the score 21-10. After the ensuing kickoff, Miami again was forced to punt after 3 plays, and McLemore returned Reggie Roby's 39-yard punt 10 yards to the 49ers' 48-yard line. Montana was sacked for a 5-yard loss by Doug Betters on the first play of the ensuing drive, but he struck back with a 20-yard completion to Craig and a 7-yard run over the next two plays. On the next play, wide receiver Freddie Solomon caught a pass from Montana, took one step, and then lost the ball due to a hit from safety Lyle Blackwood. Blackwood quickly recovered the ball and took off for the 49ers end zone, but field judge Bob Lewis blew the play dead, ruling that Solomon's fumble was an incomplete pass. Bill Quinby, the side judge, who was nearest to the play, did not make any call. Five plays later, Craig finished the nine play, 52-yard drive with his second touchdown on a 2-yard run, increasing the 49ers lead to 28-10.

With about two minutes left in the half, the Dolphins finally managed to get a good drive going on their next possession. Marino completed 7 out of 9 passes, the last one being a 30-yard pass to tight end Joe Rose, to reach the 49ers 12-yard line. But San Francisco's defense tightened up on the next 3 plays, forcing 2 incompletions and a completed pass for no gain, and Miami was forced to settle for Von Schamann's second field goal of the game to cut their deficit to 28-13 with 12 seconds left in the half. Then Miami caught a break as the 49ers botched the ensuing kickoff. San Francisco lineman Guy McIntyre received Van Schamann's short kick and was about to down the ball, but then changed his mind at the last second and decided to return it. This turned out to be a big mistake. McIntyre lost a fumble while being leveled by rookie Joe Carter, and Jim Jensen recovered the ball for Miami at the 49ers 12-yard line. After that, Von Schamann kicked his third field goal on the last play of the half, cutting the score to 28-16. "I can laugh about the play now, but it wasn't funny at the time," McIntyre said after the game. "My first instinct when I got the ball was to fall down. Then I heard everyone yelling, 'Get up! Get up!' So I got up, and here comes someone sneaking underneath me, and he hit the ball."

But any thoughts of a Miami comeback ended early in the third quarter. On the first play second half, 49ers defensive end Dwaine Board tackled Nathan for a 1-yard loss. Then after Marino threw an incompletion, Board sacked him for a 9-yard loss on third down. For the fourth time in the game, Roby had to punt, and again McLemore gave the 49ers good field position with an 8-yard return to San Francisco's 47-yard line. The 49ers then drove 43 yards and scored on kicker Ray Wersching's 27 yard field goal. On the Dolphins' ensuing drive, they were forced to punt again after Marino was sacked twice (once by defensive lineman Manu Tuiasosopo and once by Board). Starting their own 30-yard line after a 5-yard return by McLemore, Montana completed a 40-yard pass to Tyler, followed up with a 14-yard completion to Francis. Three plays later, Craig scored his third touchdown on a 16-yard reception to make the score 38-16. The score proved to be the last one from either team, as the defenses of both teams took over for the rest of the game - especially the 49ers' defense, who intercepted Marino twice.

Overall, San Francisco gained a Super Bowl record 537 yards, breaking the Oakland Raiders record of 429 yards in Super Bowl XI, while limiting Miami to 314, with just 25 rushing yards. San Francisco's 38 points also tied a Super Bowl record set by the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.

The 49ers' 288 offensive yards in the first half also tied the Raiders in Super Bowl XI for the most offensive yards in a half during a Super Bowl.

Marino finished the game with 29 out of 50 pass completions for 318 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Clayton was the top receiver of the game, with 6 receptions for 92 yards. Walker returned 4 kickoffs for 93 yards and gained 15 yards on 2 punt returns. Nathan was the Dolphins leading rusher with 18 yards, while also catching 10 passes for 83 yards.  Craig had 58 rushing yards, 77 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. He was the first player ever to score 3 touchdowns in a Super Bowl, and his 2 touchdown catches also tied a Super Bowl record. Tyler led San Francisco in rushing with 65 yards, and also caught 4 passes for 70 yards. Clark caught 6 passes for 77 yards. Board recorded 2 sacks. McLemore recorded 51 punt return yards, the second most in Super Bowl history.
We are proud to add this game to the Gridiron Uniform Database.  Also today we are launching a new page today, the index of Super Bowl Matchup graphics.  As we add Super Bowl matchups to the website today, you'll find all of them here, you'll see a new link on the front page.  We'd like to thank Mark Young, who a few months ago designed our new banner graphics, for putting together the roman numeral graphics on this page.

Also on this day, five years previous to Super Bowl XIX, the Rams and the Cowboys met in Super Bowl XIV.  This was the game that saw the Steelers put the cherry on the top of their 1970s dynasty, winning their fourth Super Bowl in six years.

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Another On This Day... that we'd like to mention.  Yesterday was January 19, and while there has never been a Super Bowl on January 19, we would like to recognize a particularly memorable game from nine years ago.  As a Buccaneer fan, while I realize that the Super Bowl victory over the Raiders is definitely the crowning achievement of our franchise, it was Ronde Barber's interception return of a Donovan McNabb pass for a touchdown that clinched the NFC Championship against the Eagles, that was the moment from that season that was most memorable.  After having lost at Philadelphia in the playoffs the past two seasons, after having never won a game below forty degrees, to go into Philadelphia and win that game to go to the Super Bowl, was really the best moment ever for the Bucs in their 35 years of existence.



  1. Ironically, had the game been played in Miami (or probably anywhere on the East Coast), it would likely have been the coldest Super Bowl ever. In Miami, the high was in the 30's.

  2. Didn't the Rams qualift as a "home team" when they played the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena? Not as close as Palo Alto to Candlestick, but a close 2nd distance-wise regardless.



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