No one, not even Ray Wersching, remembers much about his game-winning field goal to cap the greatest regular-season comeback in NFL history on Dec. 7, 1980.
Like everyone else, he just remembered what it meant.
“You could see it was the beginning of something special,” Wersching said recently.
His 36-yard kick will be forever obscured by all that preceded it. The 49ers trailed 35-7 at halftime before rallying to beat the New Orleans Saints 38-35 in overtime behind an upstart quarterback named Joe Montana.
That was the day the 49ers learned that they were on to something, that Bill Walsh’s vision was coming together. That was the day they realized they would be fine so long as they had their willowy quarterback from Notre Dame and a few ticks left on the clock.
“That was the defining moment where we said: ‘We can be good,’ ” recalled linebacker Dan Bunz, now 58. “We made some mistakes. We regrouped. We believed in ourselves. And little by little, quarter by quarter, we came back and made it work.”
The greatest regular-season comeback in NFL history ranks No. 10 in our countdown of the most unforgettable moments in the 49ers’ Candlestick Park history. It was a landmark moment for the franchise, a confidence-builder that propelled the 49ers the next season to the first of five Super Bowl championships.
“That was the foundation of something we could build on,” recalled defensive back Dwight Hicks, now 57. “No matter what the odds were, we could draw on that and come back and win.”
This was hardly a Super Bowl matchup. The Saints were 0-13 (en route to 1-15). Still, the 49ers (5-8) had no answer for quarterback Archie Manning, who had 248 passing yards and three touchdowns in the first half. As the teams trudged off the field at halftime, Walsh overheard Saints players telling each other, “Let’s make it 70-7.”
Fans mocked the 49ers, too, at least those who bothered to attend. The official crowd count was 37,949, with 9,915 no-shows.
–Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News
Andre Iguodala showered and dressed quickly after the Warriors’ double-digit victory over Sacramento on Saturday.
He hurriedly made the rounds through the locker room to bid adieu to his teammates and then darted for the exit.
Why was he in such a rush?
“Evan Turner has already been texting me,” Iguodala said as he was trying to sneak out of Oracle Arena. “He texted me a few times before the game, saying, ‘You’re next.’ I’m using that as added fuel to crack his head.”
Iguodala didn’t need the extra motivation from Turner, his former teammate and enduring good buddy, to get riled up for the Warriors’ first extended road trip of the season, because the four-city trek begins in Philadelphia.
That’s where Iguodala was drafted No. 9 overall by the 76ers in 2004, the place he spent the first eight seasons of his career and the franchise for which he still sits among the top 10 in career points, defensive rebounds, assists, steals, field goals, three-pointers and minutes.
The 6-foot-6 wing took the 76ers to the playoffs five times, including 2011-12, when he was an All-Star and an All-Defensive selection and helped push the Boston Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But it never seemed like enough.
Philadelphia traded Iguodala to Denver in the summer of 2012, while he was helping the U.S. team win an Olympic gold medal in London. The NBA added more fuel to Iguodala’s fire by deciding to have the Nuggets play the 76ers in Philadelphia to open the 2012-13 season.
–Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle
Oakland Raiders Teetering On the Brink … Again
This is the place, this is the defining moment, this is exactly when so many recent Raiders seasons have dimmed and disintegrated.
Right here — after this kind of abominable home loss and after the head coach has that kind of severe look on his face.
This has all happened before. What comes next could be very predictable for a team that just had most of its hopes lit on fire and trampled.
“I think you can read your press clippings,” veteran safety Charles Woodson said after the Raiders’ 49-20 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
“And that can factor into it.
“Last couple weeks, there’s been a lot of great things said about us — not just the defense, but the team overall.”
Now, there won’t be much said, beyond: The Raiders were horrid on Sunday, especially on defense.
And they were awfully reminiscent of so many other Raiders teams that went directly into the tank in November, after all the early buildup.
On Sunday, the Raiders fell to 3-5 by falling apart completely on defense and letting quarterback Nick Foles throw an NFL-record-tying seven touchdown passes.
Last season, they fell to 3-5 after falling apart on defense and letting Tampa Bay tailback Doug Martin become the first player to run for three TDs of 45 yards or longer.
Dennis Allen, do you think this situation has any similarities to that one, which started a six-game losing streak?
–Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News