Sunday, February 7

Super Bowl Countdown #2: Super Bowl XXIII

During the two weeks preceding the Super Bowl, I will be counting down the best Super Bowls I have witnessed in my lifetime, starting in 1988. I created a ranking system and will go game by game reliving each edition until the top Super Bowl is listed.

The only Super Bowl in which the 49ers were pushed to the brink, it turned out to be a classic that is often mentioned 21 years later. In a rematch from 7 years earlier, the was a defensive battle until the final minutes. Joe Montana sealed his legacy with the final drive with his game-winning pass and his spotting of John Candy in the final drive. Super Bowl #2 on the list after the break.

San Francisco 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Semi-lame Nickname: "The Drive"

Historical Significance- 5: The 49ers beat the Bengals in Super Bowl 16. The game is most remembered for the goal line stand made by the 49ers in the 26-21 victory. Bill Walsh coached in his final game, winning his 3rd Super Bowl. The Bengals were winding down a successful decade in the NFL, but were unable to make the final step.

Game Enjoyment By the Fans- 5: As mentioned earlier, this Super Bowl is often ranked by fans and media was the tops of all-time. There was a feeling that even though Cincinnati had a superior regular season, the Niners would prevail. It was put in doubt in the 4th quarter, but Montana delivered.

High Profile Element-4: Roger Craig often does not get a lot of recognition as one of the key members to the 49ers run. Montana, Rice and then the others. In this year when the 49ers only won ten regular season games, Craig was the glue that held them together. Craig had 2,038 yards from scrimmage that year.

The Bengals had bounced back from a 4-11 record in the strike year in 1987. Boomer Esiason and coach Sam Wyche bickered openly during that year. The two put aside their differences and Boomer was named MVP during the 1988 season. The other big personality on the team was Ickey Woods, who developed his delightful Ickey shuffle during the year.

Venue/Atmosphere- 4: There was definitely a lot of buzz about this Super Bowl. Billy Joel sang the national anthem and the half-time was something called "Be Bop Bamboozled". Did I mention John Candy was there?

Personal Enjoyment- 5: Back in the days when Montana was king and I couldn't even point out San Francisco on a map, I loved watching this game. It is a sports contest that definitely sticks in my mind all these years later.

Cleet's Rating Index: 24

Where I Was: This is an interesting story. My friend from across the street, who was 8 years old like I was, stayed with our family for the big game. Why was he staying with us you ask? Because his parents were going to the game. Why were they going to the game? Because my friends Dad played football at USC and was teammates with Anthony Munoz, the Bengals Hall of Fame left tackle. So my friend was going for the Bengals and I was being a jerk by rubbing it in his face that the Niners had just come back to win the game at the end. This was despite the fact I had no affiliation to USC and he referred to Munoz as "Uncle Anthony". Kids can be so cruel.

What Happened in the World: Two days before the game George H.W. Bush was sworn in as the President. Bush for some, miniature American flags for others.

Record of Note: This was the first time a running back had over 100 yards receiving. The aforementioned Craig accomplished this.

Game MVP:
Jerry Rice caught a (now-tied) record 11 balls for a record 215 yards and a touchdown.

LVP: Bengals running back Stanley Wilson decided to due some blow the night before the game, not a wise choice. He was suspended for the game.

Most Memorable Play: John Taylor, always looked at as the "other" receiver during the Niners Super Bowl run aside from Rice. He made the big catch in this game though. A play that is burned in my memory and will probably fade out my brain when I go senile somewhere between the names of family members and my social security number.

NFL Fallout: The Bengals began their transformation into the Bungles after the devastating loss. They won one playoff game between this game and present day. The Niners repeated the next year by crushing the Broncos and added another one in 1994 before becoming the perennial also rans they are now.

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