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The game is best remembered for the 49ers' fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 16-13, San Francisco got the ball on their own eight-yard line with 3:10 on the clock and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game. The game was tight throughout. The teams combined for 5 field goals, and battled to a 3-3 score by the end of the second quarter, the first halftime tie in Super Bowl history. Cincinnati's only touchdown, a 93-yard kickoff return by Stanford Jennings in the third quarter, was quickly answered by a four-play, 85-yard drive that ended with San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice's 14-yard touchdown reception. Rice, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, caught 11 passes for a Super Bowl record 215 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing once for 5 yards.
Montana then led an 11-play, 92-yard drive to score the winning touchdown. In order to calm his teammates in the huddle just before the final game-winning drive, Montana pointed into the stadium crowd and said "Hey, isn't that John Candy?" The tactic worked, and the 49ers were able to drive down the field for the win. It became the defining moment of Montana's "Joe Cool" reputation.