Flashback: Montana outduels Elway

Special from NFL.com

You have to give Kristen Schottenheimer credit for knowing her dad pretty well.

Even though she calculated that Marty Schottenheimer and his Kansas City Chiefs wouldn't get home from their Monday night game in Denver until the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Kristen correctly predicted that her father the coach would want to relive every heart-pounding, pulsating moment.

So Schottenheimer's 24-year-old daughter taped the game and had the remote control in position when dad came bursting through the door, still on a mile high after the Chiefs' come-from-behind 31-28 victory-his first career win in the Mile High City in eight tries.

Unfortunately for Kristen, she failed to take into account how electronically challenged her father is, because there he was in his den at 4 a.m., pointing the remote at the VCR and staring at a blank screen.

 

"She had the tape there and a little note," Marty recalled. "Something to the effect [of], 'Congratulations and welcome home, mom and dad. This is in case you want to indulge yourself beyond midnight.' Pat and I…were trying to figure out how to work the thing."

Kristen crawled out of bed and rescued her parents, then figured that, as long as she was up, she might as well enjoy another look at one of the greatest games in NFL Monday Night Football history.

Before this chilly Oct. 17, 1994 night, Schottenheimer was 0-7 in Denver as a head coach with Kansas City and Cleveland. The Chiefs hadn't beaten their AFC West rivals on the road since 1982, and Kansas City quarterback Joe Montana was 0-3 in the haunted house known as Mile High Stadium.

Oh-for turned into oh-my-God in 81 seconds, which is all the time it took the wondrous Montana to complete 7 of 8 passes during a majestic 75-yard march that culminated with his game-winning 5-yard touchdown pass to Willie Davis with eight seconds to spare.

That play brought to a close a terrific duel between two quarterbacks known for their fourth-quarter heroics. Montana completed 34 of 54 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns, while Denver's John Elway went 18 of 29 for 263 yards and a pair of scores. But more than the numbers, it was the way in which these two future Pro Football Hall of Famers went at it that set the game apart.

After a scoreless first period, the teams traded touchdowns during a wild second quarter that ended in a 14-14 tie. Montana and Elway threw one scoring pass each in that period and again in the third, leaving the teams deadlocked 21-21 and setting the stage for a spine-tingling finish.

The Chiefs took the lead on Lin Elliott's 19-yard field goal with 4:08 remaining, touching off a series of events that had the usual sellout throng of 75,151 gasping for breath-and not because of the thin air.

 

Elway got Kansas City to midfield with a 29-yard pass to Glyn Milburn on third and 10, but on the next play Chiefs linebacker Tracy Simien forced a Shannon Sharpe fumble after a 7-yard completion, and with 2:45 to go Kansas City appeared primed for victory.

Not so fast. On the very next play, Denver nose tackle Ted Washington stripped the usually surehanded Marcus Allen and linebacker Karl Mecklenburg recovered the fumble at the Kansas City 39.

Elway wasted no time-in hindsight, maybe he should have-in reclaiming the lead. His 4-yard run out of shotgun formation capped a six-play march that gave Denver a 28-24 lead with 1:29 to play.

While the crowd was ecstatic, there was detectable worry at the thought of Montana with the ball in his hands and so much time remaining.

"We felt we had a pretty good chance," Montana said. "We knew they'd concede a certain part of the field to us, so we could throw underneath. We did that and kept moving."

"We had to be willing to throw the ball underneath," Schottenheimer added. "He did a masterful job of it. The key element in the whole thing was pass protection. He stood and he looked and he looked and he looked, and that gave us a chance to make those plays."

Montana started with an 8-yard completion to Allen, who followed with a 10-yard run. Allen was able to get out of bounds after both plays, infuriating Denver coach Wade Phillips.

 

"All we had to do is tackle them inbounds," he complained. "We played it so soft that when they caught the ball in the flat, we didn't have anyone there to keep them inbounds."

Montana picked up 10 more yards with his next two passes before his only incompletion of the drive, then hit Kimble Anders for 11 yards, Derrick Walker for 12, and Tracy Greene for 19 and a first down at the Denver 5 with 13 seconds remaining.

After Kansas City used its final timeout, Davis ran a route toward the right sideline against Denver cornerback Ben Smith. Montana rifled a perfect pass, which Davis snagged before tiptoeing along the sideline and across the goal line.

"I've never been involved in a game where we managed the clock as well as we did," Schottenheimer said. "We ran nine plays and we averaged nine seconds a play. That's clock management."

It also was vintage Montana, who on this night was good enough to beat Elway at his own game in his own house. No wonder Schottenheimer was so anxious to get a second look-once his daughter showed him how to work the VCR.

SOURCES: St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Kansas City Star; Rocky Mountain News.

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