Super Bowl XXIV Review

Super Bowl XXIV Review: 49ers vs. Broncos

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Date: January 28, 1990

Site: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Point Spread: San Francisco 49ers -12/Denver Broncos +12

Score: San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10

MVP: QB Joe Montana

The 49ers and Broncos both had different goals going into Super Bowl XXIV. The 49ers were trying to win their second straight superbowl and their 4th overall–which would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Bowl wins for any NFL franchise. The Broncos, meanwhile, were trying not to lose their 4th big game, tying the Minnesota Vikings for Super Bowl futility.

What ensued was the biggest butt-whipping in Super Bowl history. The 55-10 score represents the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history. 55 points were the most ever scored by a team on Super Bowl Sunday. In each quarter, the 49ers scored two touchdowns–8 in total. The Broncos quickly knew the gravity of the situation, as they were forced to play straight-man to the high-flying San Francisco offensive showcase.

This was George Seifert’s first season at the helm, with Bill Walsh having retired after the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII. The Niners didn’t miss a beat without Walsh–going 14-2. Joe Montana, nearing the end of his glorious run at the top, still had a great year, passing for over 3500 yards with 26 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. Montana, who won the regular season MVP, had great weapons to work with. WR Jerry Rice (82-1483-17) was still on top. RB Roger Craig ran for 1000 yards and caught 49 balls. Super Bowl XXIII hero WR John Taylor had a big year, going over 1000 yards. FB Tom Rathman caught 73 balls. And when Steve young got to play–he also did very well. But this was still Montana’s team.

The Broncos had gone 11-5 after it looked like they were slipping from the top of the AFC hierarchy the year before at 8-8. QB John Elway had been inconsistent during the year, but extra weapons on offense and defense helped. RB Bobby Humphrey pitched in with over 1000 yards. Replacing kicker Rich Karlis, who had a few poor Super Bowl performances, was David Treadwell–a step up in the kicking department.


Denver WR Vance Johnson was coming off his best year with 76 catches and over 1000 yards. Defensively, Denver was good and the addition of rookie safety Steve Atwater gave an already-good secondary a new hard-hitting dimension. Led by improved play from Elway, Denver beat Pittsburgh 24-23, before beating Cleveland 37-21 in the AFC Championship. San Francisco beat Minnesota in a divisional playoff game by a score of 41-13. In the NFC title game, the 49ers beat the Rams 30-3.

Super Bowl 24 Recap

First Half: Denver punted after a three-and-out and San Francisco wasted no time getting on the board. A 20-yard touchdown pass from Montana to Rice made it 7-0. Denver gave fans a little fleeting hope by responding with their own drive, capped off by a 42-yard field goal by Treadwell to make it 7-3. Whatever hope existed was soon snuffed out. A Humphrey fumble gave the Niners the ball and a 7-yard touchdown pass to TE Brent Jones made it 13-3 after the missed extra point by Cofer.

In the second quarter, another 49ers drive led to another touchdown–with Tom Rathman scoring from a yard out to make it 20-3. Later in the 2nd, Denver continued not being able to stop the San Francisco offense. A 38-yard touchdown pass from Montana to Rice at the end of the half made it 27-3.

Second Half: The 2nd half gave the Broncos no reprieve, as the 49ers continued scoring. Elway’s first pass of the half was picked off and Montana then connected with Rice again to make it 34-3. Elway was then picked off again and San Francisco returned to the Broncos 37-yard line. A few plays later, Montana connected with Taylor for a another touchdown strike. Super Bowl 24 had gone from bad to worse for Denver, now facing a 41-3 deficit. But Elway, showing the heart that would one day help him win two Super Bowls, drove down the field and ran it in from 3 yards to make it 41-10.

Another San Francisco drive ate up some clock and to open the 4th quarter, the Niners capped an 11-play drive with a 3-yard run by Rathman to make it 48-3. An Elway sack led to a fumble later in the quarter, returned to the Denver 1-yard line, which Craig ran in to make it 55-10–a most unsightly score, but yet a fitting way to crown the most dominant team of the decade.

It is perhaps surprising that since Super Bowl 1990, that Denver has won more Bowls (2) than San Francisco (1). But this game was all San Francisco–making Super Bowl history with their 4th Super Bowl win. Five years later, they would become the first team to win 5 Super Bowls, setting the new record for Bowl excellence. The MVP was Joe Montana, who won his third such award after throwing for 297 yards and a record 5 touchdowns.