On This Date in Sports January 20, 1985: Niners Roll
In Collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The San Francisco 49ers win the Lombardi Trophy for the second time, beating the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Joe Montana wins his second Super Bowl MVP, outgunning Dan Marino with 331 yards and three touchdowns; the Super Bowl makes history as the Dolphins and 49ers combined record of 29-3 marked the best matchup in the history of the big game.
The Miami Dolphins were making their second Super Bowl appearance in three years. They were built around the Killer Bee defense when they lost two years earlier. The Dolphins of 1984 were built around the arm of Dan Marino, who had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. In winning the NFL MVP, Marino set records with 5,048 passing yards and 48 touchdowns. Both records would stand for two decades as he brought new power to the passing game. Coached by Don Shula, the Dolphins posted a 14-2 record and reached the Super Bowl by beating the Seattle Seahawks 31-10 and the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-28.
The San Francisco 49ers, coached by Bill Walsh, became the first team to post a 15-1 record, as their only loss came in Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Niners, who won Super Bowl XVI, reached the big game with steady fundamental football. They beat the New York Giants 21-10 in the Divisional Round before blanking the Chicago Bears 23-0 in the NFC Championship Game.
Though not at Candlestick Park, Super Bowl XIX was essentially a home game for the 49ers as the game was played at Stanford Stadium in nearby Palo Alto. The Super Bowl had a different feeling as it was played on a college campus and was broadcast on ABC with the Monday Night Football crew. It was the first time a Super Bowl was not televised by either NBC or CBS.
The coin toss of Super Bowl XIX was done 2,400 miles away as President Ronald Reagan flipped the cone via satellite from the White House on the date of his second inauguration. The Niners won the coin toss but couldn't do anything with the ball. Miami, meanwhile, got a 37-yard field goal by Uwe von Schamann to take the early lead. Trailing for the first time in a Super Bowl, Joe Montana led his team down the field to score the game’s first touchdown on a pass to Carl Monroe for 33 yards. The Dolphins still had Dan Marino, and he quickly answered a 70-yard drive that was capped with a two-yard pass to Dan Johnson.
In the second quarter, the Niners' special teams were able to pin Miami deep; this helped to swing field position, as Montana connected with Roger Craig on an eight-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead, 14-10. Field position remained in favor of the Niners as the Dolphins were forced to another quick three-and-out possession. This time it was Montana himself getting into the end zone on a six-yard run. The Niners would add the third touchdown in the second quarter when Roger Craig high-stepped into the end zone from the two. The Dolphins would get a pair of von Schamann field goals at the end of the half; a Guy McIntyre fumbled the kickoff with 12 seconds left to give Miami some momentum despite being down 28-16 at the half.
That momentum quickly vanished as the Niners' defense continued to shut down Dan Marino after the Dolphins received the second-half kickoff. On their first possession, the Niners would get a 27-yard field goal from Ray Wersching. Later adding a 16-yard pass from Montana to Roger Craig, who continued to be the game’s real x-factor. While Joe Montana won the game’s MVP by passing for 331 yards with three touchdowns, Craig’s presence out of the backfield was a crusher for Miami, as he had a pair of touchdown receptions and a touchdown run while accumulating 135 total yards from scrimmage.
The score from Craig would be the final, as the Niners' defense took the air out of Miami's passing game. Dan Marino would finish the day with 318 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the second half. The Niners also sacked Marino four times.
It would be Dan Marino’s only Super Bowl appearance, as the Dolphins never had a good enough defense or run game to support Marino, the NFL’s all-time leading passer, when he retired in 1999. Joe Montana, meanwhile, won two more Super Bowls with San Francisco, as their Diet Pepsi commercial that dreamed of a rematch never came to fruition on the game’s biggest stage.