Standing on the Dallas Star for the division

Dec 13, 2002 at 12:00 AM


The Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens connection came at a perfect time once again, this time with just 12 seconds left in regulation.

In a game that was to decide the fate of the Western Division for San Francisco in the National Football Conference, the 49ers came back against all adversity and came home with the crown.

Terrell Owens was the un-compromised hero in this game as earlier in the fourth quarter he had made a one-handed, juggling act in the back of the end zone look so easy. The pass was a high three-yard pass that just tipped his fingers raised above his head.

Terrell brought the ball down to his body and concentrated on where his feet were planted making the touchdown with 10:54 left in regulation.

Then on a similar note Jeff Garcia on desperation drive to come from behind stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike finding Owens in virtually the same spot as before.

This pass was even on the same pass route up and across the middle, which connected with Owens for the game winning touchdown, making it 31-27 49ers.

This game in my opinion had the atmosphere of a playoff game and was played like it was one from the very beginning.

Dallas remember was responsible for sending us on the road last season to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin, where we succumbed to the will of the cheese-heads and their phenomenal quarterback in Brett Favre.

“How can you not get excited and pumped up, having overcome adversity and still rise to the occasion?” Asked Garcia, who rushed for a team-high 50 total yards. “I’m the type of guy who relies on emotion. For me, it was awesome.”

I don’t think I could have said that better myself, because I want all of you that read this to understand exactly what it took for this team to overcome all the adversity stacked against it.

You have to start with barely winning the game against Seattle the week before as the Seahawks made a dramatic comeback in the fourth quarter almost forcing overtime.

And then you have to look at all of the devastating injuries that have nearly gutted the team of its real identity as a team. Never has there been so many positional changes and back-ups playing where back-ups had just been weeks before.

The overall scope of the injuries is too enormous to formulate all at once but just imagine, seeing employees where you work going away and replaced twice over and sometimes three times over in certain positions.

This is similar to what the San Francisco 49ers are still currently going through and have been since the beginning of the regular season. The incredible rally in the fourth quarter defined what the 49ers do best and that is to concentrate and come from behind 10 points down with 6:56 left to play in the game.

I believe that Jeff found the missing link he has been trying to find all season, the very inner magic that he has in making adrenaline and execution come to life that defined him as an elite quarterback fro two straight seasons.

If at all the team demonstrated that it has the ability to put injury aside and go out and perform still at a high level.

The team struggled no question through three-quarters of play and made mistakes that were costly, but at the same time they came alive when they needed to and put away an old nemesis once again.

I am most proud of the San Francisco 49ers and the rewards for this victory go to all of them. Even Steve Mariucci gave game balls to almost every player for helping overcome a very difficult and precarious situation with personnel issues from injuries.

In fact from these game more great athletes on the 49er roster left with devastating injuries. Cornerback Ahmed Plummer who had been nursing an ankle injury anyway pulled his groin and had to leave in the fourth quarter.

Running back Garrison Hearst is listed as possible sitting out the second half of the game with a hyper-extended knee. Tailback Paul Smith came in and substituted and turned up his level of play in having 13 carries for 40 total yards and two receptions for 17 more yards.

Kick return specialist Jimmy Williams done for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament tear. This brought about the appearance of NFL Europe Most Valuable Player in Jamal Robertson as his replacement.

It is a sad day for such a bright young talent in Williams he was just beginning to be known around the league as a very dangerous return man.

Offensive rookie left guard Eric Heitmann left the game with a broken hand that required surgery to repair the shattered bones. Kyle Kozier came in and played well in his absence as Matt Willig was for Derrick Deese who sat out with a sprained ankle.

Of course Jeremy Newberry continued to play with two broken fingers being the tough granite rock he has always been on this very versatile offensive line.

Playing the game with so many wounded and still reaping the huge reward of victory is as sweet as peanut buster parfait on a hot summers night in July.

I cannot begin to tell you the immense satisfaction that I had in rubbing the victory in the Dallas Cowboy fans all around me like a Roman sports arena, just waiting to pounce on their kill.

What was the prey suddenly became the hunted, and Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens were those that stood over their slain prey in the end zone.

Going back to the Seattle game in Candlestick the 49ers left that game with a victory but kept having to second guess themselves over all the barrage of media that labeled the win as a game where the 49ers allowed their opponent to almost comeback and steal it from them.

The San Francisco 49ers had this game seemingly all wrapped up while entering the fourth quarter on the legs of a season-high 124-yards rushing by Garrison Hearst. They were in fact ahead 31-10 in the middle of the fourth quarter.

On six plays and 57 total yards in 92 seconds the Seahawks cut the margin to 31-17. And then shortly after a 49er drive that went out like a light they drove 80-yards on nine plays in 82 seconds to make it a one-touchdown lead.

And then it became even more hairy as Seattle recovered an onside kick with 1:57 left to play after scoring that touchdown. It took a great defensive effort by cornerback Rashad Holman to turn the onslaught into a stopgap that ended with his interception of Matt Hasselback.

“It’s something where you have to find a way to smile about it and look up after a win, but it’s really one of those things where we have to learn to finish, because we haven’t been finishing that well,” Garcia said.

“We don’t like to be in situations like that. Giving up a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, that’s something we should be building on instead of looking to hold on.”

The lead in retrospect could have been substantially higher had Jeff Garcia’s passes on the first two possessions of the game not been intercepted near Seattle’s goal line in the beginning of the game.

It was in this week that Kevan Barlow was missing from the lineup with a knee injury and it was in this game that Jimmy Williams broke for an 89-yard touchdown on a punt return.

Garrison Hearst of course though proved that he could be the all down featured back, longing for his chance to come he took off with it achieving well over 100 total yards and scoring a total of three touchdowns.

“Anytime we win; it’s good for us,” said Hearst when told of the impressive numbers when he rushes for 100 yards or more. “We didn’t like the way we finished, but it’s an important divisional victory for us.”

If there is one thing about Garrison Hearst you don’t know it is that he always gives credit where he feels credit is due. He also is not afraid to say what is on his mind as indicated in several instances. However he is one of the few running backs that know that success comes only with the help of others.

Fred Beasley is a big reason why Hearst signed again with the 49ers last season; he has been instrumental in his success for years. He also recognizes the line as the unit that makes his lanes of opportunity happens on a regular basis.

“The guys up front did a great job just like always,” said Hearst as he credited his offensive line. “We went out there and the offensive line took over. We were able to get some things started on the ground and I was able to have a successful day.”

“He’s fun to block for, ” said Jeremy Newberry. “He gets a rhythm and just gets better as the game goes along.”

What was also a great highlight in this game was kick return specialist Jimmy Williams. Here was an athlete that seldom gets the recognition they deserve. Usually more often than not they are a forgotten piece of the game plan.

But not to coaches and the overall sphere of winning. It is critical that you have a great return specialist and Williams happened to be progressing all season up to this point.

The San Francisco 49ers has not seen a kick return for a touchdown since 1998 when R.W. McQuarters did it then. McQuarters was shipped out because of his inabilities at cornerback and providing solid coverage. Now with Chicago he has proven to be one of the best cover specialists.

Believe it or not Jimmy Williams upon entering this game against Seattle, ranked 10th in the NFL in punt returns, averaging 11.3 yards. He know after this game was finalized was averaging 14.9 yards.

“I wanted to get past the punter, and then I took a peak back to see when I could get my showboat on,” said Williams, who returned a Seattle punt 89 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

“We (the return teams) have been feeling like we could make a difference. We just want to put our offense in a good field position, and anything beyond that is a bonus.”

What was even more of a highlight in this game was the bravery and courageousness pf our depleted and wounded secondary. Tony Parrish had a dislocated elbow from a teammate slamming into his extended arm while trying to make a tackle.

He lectured the defensive backs that they had to carry this game on their shoulders, that they needed to make a crucial play.

Listening to his speech was newly starting safety John Keith who had broken his thumb while making a tackle early in the third quarter. Cornerback Ahmed Plummer was also suffering from dehydration and needed intravenous fluids to keep him going at halftime.

And then there was first time ever-positioned safety Rashad Holman who is normally a good cornerback that was listening to Tony. Just two plays following his lecture Holman intercepted Matt Hasselback’s pass with 1:31 left and ended a Seahawk offensive drive that could have tied the game up.

This was a unit despite all the injuries and adversity that came together and proved to be the barrier that ended a Seahawk promising drive.

In light of the tremendous damage done to the 49er secondary the 49ers felt compelled and rightfully so to look to the free agent wire for a veteran safety. It turned out to be a 13-year veteran in Tim Hauck who has played for a total of six teams.

He entered the league, and spent one season with the Patriots in 1990 and followed that with stops in Green Bay, Denver, Seattle, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

Hauck comes with some very good statistics having played in 180 career games and has recorded over 355 tackles. His best season was in 1999 with the Eagles when he recorded 60 tackles and one interception while playing in all 16 regular season games.

One of the things that came to the forefront after this game was the way the San Francisco 49ers was finishing their games. It seemed a trend in the worst kind was developing for the 49ers come the fourth quarter.

Just one year ago in the 2001 season the 49ers were just the opposite coming from far behind to score and win several critical games in the fourth quarter.

Now inside this season it seems that the 49ers have been taking a conservative approach once a lead is established and has tried to sit on it throughout the game. After barely holding off a determined Seattle drive in the fourth quarter, questions again surfaced about the functional abilities of the team to build on a lead once it was taken.

“I don’t know how to explain it off the top of my head, but it’s something that we certainly need to get better at,” 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said one Monday.

“We need to finish games better. We need to stop them, take the ball away and convert first downs on offense.”

When you look back on some of our successes these season victories that come to mind with long, time-consuming drives are numerous. They ran out the final 5:02 in the first meeting they had against Seattle; the final 7:59 against Washington; and the last 5:25 against Kansas City.

The inefficiency of the offense to stay on the field and convert first downs became glaringly apparent in both their consecutive losses to San Diego and Philadelphia.

Against Seattle they failed to convert a first down on three important possessions in the fourth quarter, which in all honesty allowed the Seahawks back inside the game.

One has to really analyze exactly what may be the cause of these inefficiencies, as we go through the season the 49ers have not been idolized as a definite contender for the playoffs.

When you look at ESPN and read Sports Illustrated there is little mention of San Francisco being a contender for the Super Bowl this year.

Yet we sit on top of our division and have clinched our division and earned a first round bye. Credit has not been given to this team for all the adversity it has had to overcome.

Despite the numerous and deadly injuries the organization has maintained enough talent and formulated enough game plans in ways of different personnel to win games.

I am sick and tired of sports analysts and broadcasters not giving the 49ers their just recognition in this league. We may have problems that need to be worked out and we may have personnel that need to mend quickly to give us a fighting chance this post-season.

But we are still a team that has proven to be one that deserves consideration as a serious contender in these playoffs up and coming.

In other related news Jose Cortez just cut recently in favor of newly drafted Jeff Chandler secured a position as a kicker for the Washington Redskins. And Jason Baker let go as the struggling punter secured a job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cortez even called Chandler to let him know and both wished each other the best. I must say that I hope that he succeeds to some extent, as he was a valuable contributor to us on more than one occasion.

Game #14 (Win) San Francisco 49ers over the Dallas Cowboys 31-27

“Coming into the stadium, I saw all the Sharpie signs, and in the huddle I looked up at the Jumbotron and saw all the little skits.” Owens said of the local’s taunting of his past celebrations. “I thought that was really cute. I was laughing at it. I was like, 'We’re going to get the last laugh some kind of way,’ and we did. We got the win.”

“It’s like Michael Jordan. You know he’s going to take the last shot, so how do you defend him?” Owens asked. “In my situation, I knew I had to make a play and I’m always confident I’m going to do that, and Jeff gave me the opportunity.”

Dallas wins the toss and elects to receive the ball that is kicked by Jeff Chandler 61 total yards to W. Dantzler who is pushed out f bounds after 25 total yards in a return to the Dallas 34-yard line.

Chad Hutchinson the new ordained quarterback for the Cowboys took over from here, his first pass was thrown incomplete as Andre Carter applied the heat.

On the second play he attempted another pass this time to Joey Galloway that went incomplete and then a penalty on San Francisco on Chike Okeafor for defensive offsides gained them five yards. Hutchinson on third down threw to Galloway again but it fell incomplete, forcing the Cowboys to punt.

Flip Filipovic punted 47 total yards to Jimmy Williams who returned it to the Dallas 43-yard line after a punt return of 52 total yards. An incredible return for a promising athlete in Jimmy Williams who had a punt return for a touchdown just one week prior to this contest.

In Cowboy territory Jeff Garcia hit tight end Eric Johnson for eight total yards and then Garrison Hearst ran to the right for two more yards. A first down completed Jeff hit Tai Streets but was caught short for a negative two yards and then failed to connect with Hearst on two consecutive passes.

The 49ers on the Dallas 26-yard line went to a field goal attempt from 44 total yards that went wide right and was no good. Jeff Chandler once again had proven that he was not an answer to the Jose Cortez syndrome. Dallas took over at their 34-yard line and Emmitt Smith ran to the left for three total yards.

On second and short Hutchinson hit James Whalen for seven total yards and Smith had a big run to the left for 18 more yards. With a first down Smith was fed the ball again but was pushed out of bounds for no gain and Troy Hambrick found the same on the next play.

On third down Hutchinson then dropped back and found running back Michael Wiley for 31 total yards and Smith ran to the left for one more yard. On second down Hutchinson failed to connect with running back Robert Thomas as heavy pressure from Okeafor came bearing down on him.

Hambrick go the carry for one more yard and the Cowboys on the 49er five-yard line decided to kick a field goal.

B. Cundiff attempted the 23-yard field goal and it was good, so on 10 plays and 61 total; yards the Cowboys took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter of play. Cundiff then kicked the ball 61 total yards to Williams, who returned it 21 total yards to the 49er 31-yard line, but here he fumbled the ball and the Cowboys recovered it.

This play had all the makings for an ugly game when I witnessed this play, in praising Williams for his recent accomplishments I now struggled to find something nice to say.

Hutchinson at the 49er 31-yard line tried to hit Galloway on two consecutive plays that failed and then Michael Wiley ran up the gut for 10 total yards and a first down.

Smith then got the carry for six more yards to the right and then was stuffed for minus four yards on the next play. Hutchinson on third down tried to find Antonio Bryant but it fell incomplete.

The Cowboys chose to try the field goal from 37 total yards and Cundiff hit it after seven plays and 12 total yards the Cowboys were on top due to the fumble 6-0.

Cundiff then kicked 62 total yards to Williams who returned it 21 total yards, but it was on this play that Williams ended his season with a torn ACL.

Jeff starts the drive with Hearst for a run to the right for three total yards and then a penalty on Scott Gragg came in for a false start.

On second down Hearst ran up the gut for nine total yards and Jeff then hit J.J. Stokes for five more yards.

With a new first down Jeff hit Hearst but it was stuffed for a minus six yards, Hearst then ran up the middle for eight more yards.

A penalty came in on Dallas for illegal use of hands at the right time giving San Francisco a first down.

With that Jeff hit Tai Streets for six total yards and then Hearst was stuffed at the middle for minus one yard. Now in the second half the 49ers receive the news on Williams about his knee.

Jeff drops back to hit Eric Johnson but it falls incomplete forcing the 49ers to punt again 24 total yards where a fair catch by Galloway is called at the Dallas 23-yard line.

Chad Hutchinson to start the second quarter throws to T. McGee but the pass in intercepted by Tony Parrish who takes it six total yards to the Dallas 40-yard line where Jeff would take over.

Jeff on the first play had to throw the ball away under heavy pressure and Hearst was stuffed on the next play for minus a yard.

With a third and long Garcia went to Terrell Owens but the pass was incomplete and the 49ers had to punt. Billy La Fleur punted 21 total yards to Galloway with a fair catch at the Dallas 20-yard line.

Troy Hambrick received the first two carries gaining just three total yards and then Hutchinson failed to find Antonio Bryant on the next.

A penalty came down on Bryant for offensive pass interference forcing the Cowboys to punt 46 total yards to Cedric Wilson who returned it 10 total yards to the 49er 41-yard line.

The ball in San Francisco’s hands again Hearst ran to the right for 13 total yards and then a penalty fell on Jeremy Newberry negating the play for offensive holding. Jeff then found Terrell Owens for 12 more yards and then Hearst was stuffed for minus a yard.

Jeff then connected with Eric Johnson for eight more yards but they came up short of a first down and had to punt 39 total yards to Galloway with a fair catch at the Dallas 11-yard line.

Chad Hutchinson went back to work looking for Smith and D. Scott but found neither one. With a third down and long he went to Galloway but the pass was incomplete forcing the Cowboys to punt 47 total yards to a fair catch by Cedric Wilson at the 49er 42-yard line.

Jeff Garcia started this drive by hitting Terrell Owens for 13 total yards and then Hearst for dour more yards. Hearst then hit the middle for one yard and Jeff found Tai Streets for dour more yards.

On fourth-and-one San Francisco went for it with a pitch out to Hearst that acquired 15 total yards. However it was on this play that Hearst hyper-extended his right knee and was lost for the game.

With a first down at hand Jeff then dropped back and found no one so he scrambled to the right for a marvelous 21-yad touchdown. His run actually began up the middle before turning hard right; it was a classic Jeff Garcia run for a score. Chandler’s extra point was good.

So on six plays and 58 total yards the 49ers had now taken the lead 7-6 49ers in the middle of the second quarter. Chandler then kicked 60 total yards to Dantzler who returned it 24 total yards to the Dallas 34-yard line.

Emmitt Smith took the first two consecutive plays acquiring five total yards and Hutchinson then found Thomas for one more yard.

Faced with a fourth down early the Cowboys punted 43 total yards to Wilson who returned it 10 total yards to the 49er 27-yard line.

Jeff started off with a pass to Paul Smith in for the injured Garrison Hearst for six total yards and then Smith ran up the middle for two more yards. With a third down Garcia tried to connect with Johnson but failed forcing the 49ers to punt 41 total yards to Galloway who returned it 10 total yards to the Dallas 34-yard line.

On the first play Dallas was called for a false start, but Hutchinson then hit Hambrick for nine total yards and again for three more yards. A two-minute warning sounded and after that Hutchinson hit Antonio Bryant for 10 total yards that was challenged by the booth upstairs and upheld.

With a first down Hutchinson hit Ken-Yon Rambo for six total yards and then failed to connect with Galloway. On third down he again tried to find Galloway but failed forcing them to punt 28 total yards to a fair catch by Cedric Wilson at the 49er 15-yard line.

Here with 1:32 left in the half Jeff Garcia hit Owens for four total yards and then ran up the middle himself for five more yards. A penalty came down on Eric Heitmann for offensive holding.

Paul Smith then got the carry for five total yards and then Dallas called a timeout. On third down Jeff on the next play ran to the right for 10 total yards and the first down.

With the first down at hand he connected with Owens for a 23 total yards and then San Francisco called a timeout. Garcia on the next play passed to Beasley but it fell incomplete and tried again to him but this time for 14 total yards. With time running out on the next play and hurry up offense Garcia spiked the ball to kill the clock.

A penalty came down again on Eric Heitmann for a false start, Jeff then on the next play ran to the right end for seven total yards. A penalty came down on Dallas for illegal contact, but one came down on the 49ers as well for illegal use of hands they cancelled each other out.

On second and long Garcia hit Fred Beasley for six total yards and a timeout was called by San Francisco and then by Dallas as the 49ers prepared for a very long field goal attempt.

The field goal was set up to be from 55-yards out and Chandler never made it. With time run out the 49ers went into the locker room with a marginal 7-6 lead at halftime.

Looking at the first half the statistics all but time of possession are pretty comparable as both teams played tough defense and prevented the other from scoring opportunities.

The 49ers had edges in time of possession and net yards rushing and passing but the score remained very close considering the 49ers had a turnover as the result of Jimmy Williams fumbling the ball.

What was even more serious for San Francisco though was that they lost Jimmy Williams for the season in this first half with damage to his knee and Garrison Hearst for the game with knee damage himself.

The consequences for a slim lead were heavy indeed for the 49ers and they would have to adjust in losing two quality starters in these two athletes.

With the start of the third quarter San Francisco elected to receive and Cundiff kicked 53 total yards to Jamal Robertson who returned it 18 total yards to the San Francisco 35-yard line. Here Jeff Garcia hit Johnson for nine total yards and Paul Smith ran up the middle for no gain.

Smith tried again up the middle for two total yards and made the first down. Jeff then looked for Owens and Streets on two consecutive plays and the passes both fells incomplete.

On third down he went to Owens for seven total yards and was forced to punt 30 total yards that went out of bounds at the Dallas 17-yard line.

From the 17 E. Smith hit the middle for one total yard and then Hutchinson hit McGee for seven more yards. With a third and short Hutchinson dropped back and threw a pass intended for Antonio Bryant but it was intercepted again by Tony Parrish who returned it to the Dallas 17-yard line.

Jeff came out and went to work but had to throw the first pass away under heavy pressure. On second down Paul Smith ran right for three total yards and then San Francisco called a timeout.

On third down Jeff Garcia was suddenly sacked and a personal foul penalty came down on Jeremy Newberry for 15 total yards.

The 49ers had to attempt a field goal from 47 total yards in which Jeff Chandler actually hit making the score after four plays and 12 total yards 10-6 49ers.

Jeff Chandler then kicked the ball 58 total yards to Dantzler who returned it 20 total yards to the Dallas 32-yard line.

E. Smith started the drive with a two total yards to the right and five more yards up the middle. On third down Troy Hambrick acquired ten total yards to the right but a penalty fell on Dallas for offensive holding.

On the next play Ham brick hit the middle for two more yards and the Cowboys were forced to punt on fourth down. Filipovic punted 30 total yards that went out of bounds at the 49er 29-yard line.

San Francisco began their next drive with Paul Smith running to the right for five total yards and Garcia hitting Tai Streets for eight more yards. On a new first down Garcia hit Beasley for eight total yards and Smith ran to the right for one more yard.

With third and short Jeff ran up the middle for two total yards and the failed to find anyone throwing a pass out of bounds.

On first down Garcia had to throw the ball away under pressure, then he hit J.J. Stokes but he was smacked for a minus two total yards. With third down out of the shotgun Jeff ran up the middle for four total yards a penalty for a false start was called on San Francisco.

The 49ers forced to punt did so but the punt was suddenly blocked and recovered by Dallas and run out of bounds at the 49er 13-yard line. Here with 2:20 left to play in the third quarter Chad Hutchinson took over.

Hutchinson hit McGee for eight total yards and then from the 49er five yard line E. Smith makes a left end run right into the end zone for the touchdown. A penalty came down after the play for unnecessary roughness on Dallas and the extra point was good.

So after two plays and 13 total yards and a blocked punt the Dallas Cowboys took the lead late in the third quarter 13-10.

Cundiff then kicked the ball 64 total yards to Jamal Robertson who returned the ball 21 total yards to the 49er 42-yard line. Jeff went to work hitting Owens for three total yards and Smith running for four more yards to the right.

With a third down Garcia then hit Johnson for a gain of nine total yards and a new first down. Jeff then found Terrell Owens for nine more yards and Smith ran to the right for two total yards.

With a first down completed Garcia hit Justin Swift for 11 total yards and then Paul Smith ran to the left for five more yards. Jeff then tried to hit Smith but the pass was incomplete and then Garcia ran to the right for seven total yards.

With a first down Garcia tried to find Tai Streets but failed and then Paul Smith ran up the middle for five more yards.

With a third down and short Garcia from the Dallas three-yard line found Owens in the end zone for a spectacular catch off his fingertips for a touchdown. Chandlers extra point was good so after 12 plays and 58 total yards the 49ers took the lead 17-13 49ers.

On Jeff Chandler’s kickoff of 54 total yards to Dantzler, it turned into a nightmare as Dantzler returned the ball up the middle and to the outside for an 84-yard touchdown return.

Cundiff’s extra point was good and so after zero plays and 84 total yards the Dallas Cowboys shocked the San Francisco 49ers by going up 20-17.

Cundiff kicked the ball 61 total yards to Robertson who returned it 28 total yards to the San Francisco 37-yard line. Right from the start a penalty fell on Scott Gragg for a false start, Jeff Garcia then found Eric Johnson for seven total yards.

With a second down Paul Smith found no room on the left and was stuffed for minus two total yards and Garcia failed to find Owens on the next play.

San Francisco still reeling from the shocking touchdown return had to punt the ball once again, this time for 43 total yards where Joey Galloway ran out of bounds at the Dallas 29-yard line.

With over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter Chad Hutchinson hit McGee for an astonishing reception of 58 total yards taking the ball all the way to the 49er 13-yard line.

Emmitt Smith then ran for 11 more yards to the left and Hutchinson then had an incomplete pass and Dallas called a timeout. Upon the end of that timeout Smith ran to the right for one more yard and then from the 49er one-yard line he busted through on the left side for the touchdown.

Cundiff’s extra point was good and after five plays and 71 total yards the Dallas Cowboys escalated their lead to 27-17.

This was a critical moment for the 49ers as this was a turning of the momentum where Dallas actually had us on the ropes. Confidence that they had us where they wanted us was rising. I was at my lowest point at this time myself biting my nails and listening to the rants and heckle of Cowboy fans all around me.

Cundiff kicked the ball 62 total yards to Robertson who returned it 42 total yards to midfield. It was a great return from the running back with a reputation from NFL Europe.

Robertson had more than earned the right after this in stepping in for Jimmy Williams in my opinion. Jeff out of the shotgun went to work hitting Owens for a reception of 16 total yards and again for 14 more yards.

With a first down he hit Tai Streets but he was stuffed for minus two total yards but on second down he went back to Tai Streets from the Dallas 23-yard line and hit him for a touchdown in the end zone.

A penalty came down on Justin Swift for offensive holding but it did little as Chandler’s re-kick for the extra point was good. So the 49ers after four plays and 50 total yards had cut the lead down to 27-24 Cowboys.

Chandler then kicked the ball 59 total yards to Dantzler who returned it 25 total yards to the Dallas 36-yard line. Hutchinson then hit Galloway for seven total yards and Smith ran to the left for two more yards.

With a third and short Hutchinson then ran to the right for 18 total yards and a first down. Smith then carried the ball to the right for no gain and a penalty came down on Dallas for offensive holding that was declined.

On second down Smith hit the right side for nine total yards and then went up the middle but was stuffed by Stubblefield for no gain. A timeout by San Francisco was then used as time started to become a factor.

Faced with a fourth-and-one the Cowboys attempted a field goal from 47 total yards out that went wide right and was no good. A defining moment for the 49ers as that left the score well within reach without the three points tacked on. Jeff Garcia took over at the 49er 37-yard line.

Under heavy pressure Garcia threw the first pass out of bounds and on the second he hit Eric Johnson for eight total yards. The two-minute warning then sounded and the clock now became the focus for the 49ers. Jeff Garcia knew he had a very important drive to perform and he set out to execute it.

On third down and short Jeff ran up the middle for three total yards and a first down, then he hit Johnson for three more yards. On second down Paul Smith hit the middle and advanced eight total yards and then Garcia hit Smith for 11 more yards.

With another first down established Jeff failed to find Smith on the next play and then hit Johnson for eight more yards.

Now with a third and short Jeff ran up the middle for three total yards and another first down and then had to spike the ball because of the game clock. On second down with 27 seconds left he failed to find Owens and then hit him for 11 total yards to the Dallas eight-yard line.

Now with just 15 seconds left in regulation Jeff dropped back and found Owens in the back of the end zone for a touchdown that sent me on top of my chair with hands raised high in the air.

All around me the Dallas Cowboy fans suddenly felt the cold winter chill that had just dawned on them. The very player that they despised the most on the 49ers was the very player that beat them in this contest.

The adrenaline and the emotional high had all kicked in the roar of excitement soared through my parched throat as I couldn’t stop screaming in victory.

Jeff Chandler’s extra point was good so after 13 plays and 63 total yards Jeff Garcia drove the 49ers all the way down the field in another miracle finish.

Chandler then kicked the ball 44 total yards to Dantzler who returned it seven total yards to the Dallas 33-yard line; this is where Hutchinson sent up a Hail Mary that fell incomplete with four seconds left on the clock. The game was over and the score board read 31-27 San Francisco 49ers.

Winners of the National Football Conference’s Western Division we were as we walked off the field in Texas Stadium, the St. Louis Rams had been eliminated as a playoff outsider and we were now in the drivers seat for the remainder of the season.

The tale of the tape is extensive the will and determination of our team is to be commended and honored for their sacrifices and bravery out on the field.

Jeff Garcia went 36-of-55 for 276 total yards and three touchdowns he had a quarterback rating of 95.7%. In rushing alone he had eight carries for a total of 50 yards. Paul Smith in for the injured Garrison Hearst had 13 carries for 40 total yards while Hearst had nine carries for 35 total yards before his injury.

It was a Terrell Owens day by far as he had 12 receptions for 123 total yards and two touchdowns. Eric Johnson came back in true form with eight receptions for 60 total yards and Tai Streets had six receptions for 36 total yards and one touchdown.

On special teams we lost Jimmy Williams who made a costly fumble but Jamal Robertson had a 52-yard return. We blew coverage on the Dantzler touchdown return and discredited our special teams units just a tad bit more.

On defense there were no sacks but plenty of pressure, Derek Smith, Jason Webster and Jeff Ulbrich all had four tackles apiece. The battered secondary held the Cowboys to 147 total yards passing and Tony Parrish had two critical interceptions.

In the rushing end we held the Cowboys to a total of 110-yards and we had a 50% third down efficiency rating compared to 33% for the Cowboys. In total net yards we stood out with 401 total yards to the Cowboys 257 total yards. We even dominated the time of possession with 35:59 to 24:01 for the Dallas Cowboys.
,BR> Exceptional victory is what I say about this one a critical one as they all are when speaking on terms of the playoff race. The San Francisco 49ers still have not reached their fullest capability in terms of dominance and scoring potential, with the onset of many injuries it has been hard to do just that.

But as the time draws closer we seem to manage to overcome so much adversity, I feel this is a tremendous credit to the coaching on this team.

I urge the San Francisco owners in the York’s and the front office management to put the extended contracts of Steve Mariucci and Terrell Owens as high priorities.

Obviously both have proven over the long duration that they are exceptional and well defined hero’s in our bid for glory. There can be no substitution in these two as both play pivotal roles in the success of this franchise.
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