SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Riding the momentum from the famed Joe Montana to Dwight Clark ‘The Catch’ victory over Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, the San Francisco 49ers rolled into Pontiac’s Silverdome to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.
A fierce snowstorm struck the Detroit area on Super Bowl Sunday, delaying the arrival of many fans to the game. But once inside, the two first-time participants provided plenty of drama to keep the sold-out crowd on the edges of their seats.
The game didn’t start well for the 49ers. Running back Amos Lawrence fumbled the opening kick-off at San Francisco’s 26-yard-line. Three plays later, the Bengals were knocking on the door with the ball on the 49ers 5. But three player later, Dwight Hicks would pick off a Ken Anderson pass in the end zone to end the threat.
From there, it was all San Francisco as the 49ers rolled to a commanding 20-0 halftime lead on a 1-yard Montana run, a 10-yard Montana pass to Earl Cooper and a pair of Ray Wersching field goals.
While sports bars across the Bay Area were rocking with celebrating fans as the halftime show went on, Cincinnati regrouped in their lockerroom. Momentum began to shift on the opening second-half drive.
The Bengals scored on an Anderson 5-yard run to make it 20-7. Later in the quarter, Cincinnati was threatening again, but linebacker Dan Bunz came up with a key stop on the 1-yard-line and Bunz, Jack Reynolds and Ronnie Lott stopped the Bengals a play later on fourth down.
A Cincinnati touchdown early in the fourth quarter made it 20-14 and suddenly the celebrating 49ers fans grew very quiet. Wersching would add two fourth quarter field goals to give the 49ers a little breathing room, but the Bengals fought back.
Anderson fired a 3-yard scoring pass to Dan Ross in the dying moments but time ran out. The 49ers 26-21 victory sent thousands into the streets of the San Francisco to celebrate the team’s first Super Bowl title.