25. Super Bowl XVI, 1982: San Francisco 26—Cincinnati 21
This marked the first appearance of the upstart 49ers under head coach Bill Walsh and a young, up and coming quarterback named Joe Montana. It would not be the last. A briskly enjoyable game and an impressive showcase for Walsh’s innovations, no one could have known it would change the course of NFL history forever.
Competitiveness: 7 out of 10. Led by an efficient Montana and benefiting from a couple of huge breaks the slightly favored 49ers stormed to a 20-0 halftime lead. The Bengals rallied impressively in the second half behind gritty quarterback Ken Anderson, but ultimately fell short when their desperation onside kick failed.
Star Power: 8 out of 10. Walsh and Montana would become synonymous with NFL greatness. Ronnie Lott and Anthony Munoz are amongst the very greatest to ever play their respective positions.
Intrigue/Controversy: 4 out of 10. A 49ers’ team bus carrying Montana and Walsh was stuck in traffic behind George HW Bush’s motorcade, causing them to arrive extremely late. Had they not arrived in time for kickoff, football might look very different.
Aftermath: 10 out of 10. The 49ers revolutionized the sport with a creative system of cleverly schemed runs and short passes which would eventually net the franchise four more titles in the following fifteen years. The so-called West Coast scheme remains the most widely imitated system in the sport. Joe Montana is generally considered the greatest quarterback to play the game.
Aggregate Score: 29 out of 40.
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