1981 NFC Championship

  • By Jim Trotter Special to
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Corky Charles Trewin/NFL
Dwight Clark's score capped a wild championship encounter at Candlestick Park.

49ers 28, Cowboys 27
San Francisco -- Jan. 10, 1982 -- In Bay-area football lore, the play will forever be remembered as "The Catch." Just 51 seconds remained in the NFC title game and the host 49ers trailed Dallas by six points. San Francisco QB Joe Montana took the snap at the Cowboys 6-yard line, retreated to his right to buy extra time against a strong rush, then, throwing off his back foot, floated a pass to the back corner of the end zone. Most people thought he was throwing the ball away, until wide receiver Dwight Clark appeared out of nowhere and leaped in front of Dallas cornerback Everson Walls to make the go-ahead touchdown reception.

That TD marked the sixth and final lead change in a gripping back-and-forth affair. Minutes earlier, Dallas had taken a 27-21 advantage on Doug Cosbie’s 21-yard catch.

San Francisco then secured the victory when Jim Stuckey pounced on a Dallas fumble. Moving on to face the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, the 49ers prevailed, 26-21, marking their first of five Super Bowl titles in 14 years.

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Next game: 1981 AFC Championship



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