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1989 ‐ Super Bowl XXIII ‐ San Francisco 49ers vs Cincinnati Bengals

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San Francisco 49ers 20
Cincinnati Bengals 16

January 22, 1989

Super Bowl XXIII was at Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium. The NFC champion 49ers (13-6) played the AFC champion Bengals (14-5), a rematch of Super Bowl XVI.

Despite a quarterback controversy with Steve Young and a 6-5 start, Joe Montana led San Francisco to win 4 of its last 5 games and the NFC West.

Rebounding from a 4-11 season in 1987, quarterback Boomer Esiason had a career year, led Cincinnati to the AFC Central title, and won the MVP.

The first half was a defensive struggle. At halftime, the score was 3-3, the Super Bowl’s first halftime tie and the lowest score since Super Bowl IX when Pittsburgh led Minnesota 2-0.

The teams traded third quarter field goals, then Cincinnati led 13-6 on a 93-yard kickoff touchdown return with 34 seconds left.

The 49ers responded with an 85 yard advance. Defensive back Lewis Billups nearly intercepted Montana in the end zone. Montana threw a 14-yard touchdown 57 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The 49ers trailed 16-13 with 3:20 remaining when Cincinnati completed a 40-yard field goal.

The 49ers then went 92 yards in 11 plays and Montana threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left.

San Francisco became the first NFC team to win three Super Bowls.

Jerry Rice was Super Bowl XXIII’s MVP, hauling in 11 catches for a record 215 yards. Montana threw 23 of 36 passes for a record 357 yards and two touchdowns. The game was the last for 49ers’ coach Bill Walsh.

Around the World on January 22:

  • The U.S.S.R. performed a nuclear test at Semipalitinsk, Eastern Kazakhstan.

Around the NFL in 1989:

  • March 22 – Commissioner Rozelle announced his retirement, pending the selection of a successor.
  • March 19-23 – Owners continued instant replay for the fourth year. A stronger policy on steroids and disciplinary measures for feigned injuries were adopted.
  • April 1 – 229 unconditional free agents signed with new teams under the Plan B system.
  • April 18 – Jerry Jones bought a majority interest in the Cowboys. Tex Schramm became president of the new World League of American Football. The NFL extended CBS Radio’s contract through 1994.
  • May 24 – Super Bowl XXVI was awarded to Minneapolis.
  • September 10 – 111 Plan B free agents were active and 23 others were on reserve lists.
  • October 3 – Art Shell became the Raiders coach, becoming the NFL’s first black head coach since Fritz Pollard coached the Akron Pros in 1921.
  • October 19 – The October 22 Patriots at 49ers game was moved to Stanford Stadium following the October 17 Bay Area Earthquake.
  • October 26 – After 12 ballots, Paul Tagliabue was picked commissioner.
  • November 5 – Tagliabue took office on Sunday, 12:01 A.M.
  • November 6 – NFL Charities donated $1 million to Bay Area earthquake victims.
  • December – NFL attendance of 17,399,538 was the highest in league history.
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