page The Catch
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers, NFC Championship Game, January 10, 1982
The NFC Championship Game following the 1981 season pit the Dallas Cowboys, the team that had dominated the NFC in the 1970s, against the San Francisco 49ers, the team that would dominate the conference in the 1980s. Trailing 27–21 in the game's final minute, San Francisco faced third down on the Dallas 6-yard line.
49ers quarterback Joe Montana called a play for wide receiver Freddie Solomon, a play that the team had run successfully in the first quarter. But the Cowboys were ready for it, and Solomon couldn't get open. Montana scrambled, looking for a way out. Under pressure with Cowboys defenders bearing down on him, Montana threw a high pass off of his back foot into the back of the end zone, almost as if he were throwing the ball away to avoid a sack. But receiver Dwight Clark was there and made a leaping catch, securing the ball above his head with the tips of his fingers to score the winning touchdown.
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