This week, the National Football League's newest show--Tuesday Morning Football--featured Joe Montana throwing passes and the referees throwing flags.
As a result, Monday's and Tuesday's game took 3 hours 53 minutes and ended at 12:56 a.m., EST--the longest football game ABC has ever televised. The Washington Redskins won, 14-6, only because they weren't half as inept as the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers, who are 6-4-1 and trail the first-place Rams by a half a game, wasted a club-record 441 passing yards by Montana, whose back can't be hurting as much as his heart. First of all, he took a vicious lick by Dexter Manley in the first quarter, fumbled, but bounced right up. Three-hundred-pound Dave Butz then sat on him three different times. He got up.
But he never threw a touchdown pass, the second straight Monday night that a quarterback has exceeded 400 passing yards and didn't throw for a score (Cleveland's Bernie Kosar had 401 yards last week). Montana was partly to blame, of course. Once, he overthrew a wide-open Jerry Rice in the end zone. He threw three interceptions. But, once, Joe Cribbs was all alone and dropped the sure touchdown.
Montana was 33 of 60 for 441 yards and lost. The 49ers gained 501 total yards but managed just two field goals.
And how about those penalties? The 49ers set a club record with 15 penalties (for 118 yards).
"We haven't been a penalized team," 49er Coach Bill Walsh said. "And there were a couple calls that were totally unnecessary."
The Redskins (9-2) stayed tied with the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East. Their clinching touchdown came on their first possession of the second half. Ken Jenkins fielded a Max Runager punt, faked a reverse to linebacker Monte Coleman and ran 39 yards to the 49er 37-yard line.
Three plays later, Gary Clark caught a 27-yard pass from Jay Schroeder (17 of 40, 170 yards, so 100 total passes were thrown), beating rookie Don Griffin down the left sideline. The 14 points were enough, because of 16 ludicrous 49er miscues.
Four came in the second half. . . .
--San Francisco had a first down at the Redskin 15, but two penalties, a sack and an overthrow to Rice forced the 49ers to settle for a field goal.
--Montana overthrew a wide-open Rice (12 catches) in the end zone.
--Linebacker Keena Turner dropped an interception at the Redskin 20.
Twelve came in a first half that lasted 1 hour 50 minutes. . . .
--The 49ers began the game by kicking off to Washington's Ken Jenkins, crunched him, the ball popped loose, but Washington's Neil Olkewicz recovered.
--Washington's Manley had promised to "ring Montana's clock (he meant to say 'bell')," and he did. On a scramble, Manley punched the quarterback from behind and caused a fumble. Did it hurt Joe's back? Who knows? He bounced right up and completed his next eight passes.
"If I think about it (getting hit), I'm not gonna be able to do my job," said Montana, who returned last week after having back surgery. "If I had any second thoughts, I wouldn't be out here."
"Oh yeah, it was a relief, (after he got up after Manley hit him)." He hit me full-speed ahead. I wouldn't say I was waiting for the first big hit to happen. But when it did happen, and I got up, I knew it would be a big relief."
--One of those Montana passes was to Rice inside the five-yard line. But tight end John Frank was whistled for illegal procedure.
--So the 49ers had to settle for a field goal, and Ray Wersching sailed it wide left.
--Montana tried hitting Rice on a deep pass but didn't put enough ooomph into it. Darrell Green intercepted the underthrown ball.
--A first-down run was nullified when left guard John Ayers was caught holding.
--On a third-down play, running back Roger Craig dropped what would have been a sure first-down completion. The 49ers settled for a field goal.
--Washington's best defensive back, Green, was now out with a shoulder injury. Montana went deep against rookie Tim Morrison and found Rice for a 47-yard gain. Bring it back. Ayers was caught holding again.
--While covering a punt in the second quarter, the 49ers' Mike Wilson was accidentally speared in the head by Washington's Steve Hamilton. He sat motionless on the turf, and team doctors were afraid to move him. He was wheeled off on a stretcher, and approximately 55,000 people here were silent.
X-rays, however, were negative. He left the stadium wearing a neck brace, but he'll also be able to wear a 49er uniform again.
--Keena Turner caused Washington's Schroeder to fumble inside the Redskin 20-yard line, and the 49ers recovered. But officials ruled Schroeder's knees were down before the fumble.
--Montana later rolled out inside the Washington 20, threw to tight end Frank, but safety Ken Coffey wrestled the ball out of Frank's hands for the interception.
--Washington's George Rogers (24 for 104 yards) then fumbled on his 25-yard line, the 49ers recovering. But Rogers was sure he was down before the fumble. He nearly tackled the official, who threw a penalty flag. The instant-replay guys got involved and ruled Rogers was right, but Rogers still was penalized 15 yards.
Those unsweet 16 mistakes gave the Redskins a victory in The Game That Wouldn't End.
At one point, ABC broadcaster Al Michaels said: "For those of you who just finished watching the Johnny Carson Show, welcome to RFK Stadium."