On This Date in Sports December 31, 1994: Joe Montana's Swansong

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

A decade after they met in Super Bowl XIX, Joe Montana and Dan Marino square off again in the playoffs, with the Miami Dolphins hosting the Kansas City Chiefs in a Wild Card Game. The first half was the shootout fans expected, but Montana and the Chiefs ran out of gas as Miami won 27-17 blanking the Chiefs in the second half. It would be the final NFL Game for Joe Montana as he later announced his retirement.

After losing to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship in 1993, the Kansas City Chiefs coached by Marty Schottenheimer continued their pursuit of a trip to the Super Bowl with Joe Montana. The Chiefs acquired Montana before the 1993 season after Steve Young became the established star in San Francisco, while Montana missed nearly two seasons due to injuries. After a solid first year in Kansas City, Joe Montana had an up and down season in 1994. Montana beat his former team earlier in the year and won a great Monday Night duel against the Denver Broncos and John Elway. Struggling in November, the Chiefs needed to win their last two games to finish 9-7, getting the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.

The Miami Dolphins were looking to bounce back in 1994, as Dan Marino returning from an Achilles injury, was seeking to show he was still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. With Don Shula celebrating 25 years in Miami as the NFL’s all-time winningest coach, the Dolphins won the AFC East with a record of 10-6. The Dolphins were seeking to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium at Joe Robbie Stadium, that postseason as they hosted the Chiefs in the Wild Card Round.

Each quarterback led their team to touchdown drives on their first possession, as Joe Montana connected with Derrick Walker on a one-yard score, while Dan Marino answered with Bernie Parmalee scoring from the one. The Chiefs quickly regained the lead, hitting Kimble Anders on a 57-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 in favor of Kansas City at the end of the first quarter. The Dolphins would go down the field but had to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Pete Stoyanovich. The teams continued to go back and forth as Lin Elliott nailed a 21-yard field goal. Miami would tie the score just before the half as Marino connected with Ronnie Williams on a one-yard pass.

Neither defense had an answer for the two legendary quarterbacks in the first half, as each team scored on every full possession. The Dolphins would start the third quarter with a touchdown, taking the lead for the first time as Irving Fryar caught a seven-yard pass from Dan Marino. The Chiefs’ offense, however, came out flat after halftime, as they went three and out. This would signal the defenses taking over as neither team moved the ball on their next possession. The Dolphins would get down the field late in the third quarter and extended their lead to 27-17 on second 40-yarder by Stoyanovich. Joe Montana seeking to answer, did take the Chiefs down to the Miami five but was intercepted by J.B. Brown. Later in the fourth quarter, Marcus Allen had a rare fumble as the sun quickly set on the Chiefs, with Miami not allowing anything in the second half.

The Dolphins would suffer a heart-breaking loss 22-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Playoff Round a week later. The Wild Card win over the Chiefs would end up as the final playoff win in the career of Don Shula. As the 49ers won the Super Bowl, Joe Montana, at the age of 38, decided to call it a career, retiring during the off-season.