1999 49ers-Packers: The only reason left to enjoy Terrell Owens

Summerall: "8 seconds left.  Gotta go to the endzone now."

Madden: "They have to go to the endzone now and hope that they either score a touchdown or they get it within 8 seconds so they get another play. "

Summerall: "Three man rush, and Young stumbles on the way back and fires up the middle...pass is caught by Owens. Owens made the catch!

Madden: "Oh my mally! Whooo!  This is amazing!" (The first line sounded like pure gibberish, and that's the best I could make out).

Last night I was sitting around waiting for The Office to start and remembered that I had TiVoed the NFL Network replay of the 1999 49ers-Packers Wildcard game.  So, I fired it up and fast forwarded to the last couple of drives.

Watching just the catch (as seen below), it's certainly a fun moment.  However, in watching the set-up to it in the last four minutes of the fourth quarter added something to it.  I actually got chills and as TO made the catch, I had a smile on my face.  It was very odd given that I knew what was going to happen.

For those that don't recall some of the details, I thought I'd throw a few of them out there because the emotions came back, although slightly less amplified.  After the 49ers kicked a field goal to take a 23-20 lead, the Packers got the ball back on a drive that seemed like it should have been a back breaker.  They were down to a 4th and 1 deep in their own territory, but Levens pretty easily converted.  Then came the long pass down the sideline to Antonio Freeman to set the Packers up deep in 49ers territory.  A few plays later and Freeman had a 15-yard TD reception to take the 27-23 lead.

With under 2 minutes remaining, the 49ers offense came on the field deep in their own territory.  A catch and run by JJ Stokes got them close to midfield.  A couple plays later, fullback Marc Edwards caught a dump off and was hit behind the line of scrimmage for what appeared to be a loss.  Only nobody told Edwards to go down and he bulldozed his way to another first down.

That was followed shortly thereafter by the Jerry Rice catch, his only of the game, that he actually fumbled after a 6-yard gain.  Instant replay in its somewhat current form started the following season.  Had there been full instant replay and on-field challenges, that game would have been over at that point.

Some poor clock management ticked down even more seconds before a timeout was called.  Another play took place after this that I had long forgotten.  Young threw a 20+ yard pass down the right side of the field and it was almost intercepted by Craig Newsome.  Fortunately the ball hit the ground in between his hands and it was ruled an incomplete pass.  The 49ers regrouped and the next play....

What really gets me about this was Terrell Owens bursting into tears on the sideline while surrounded by his teammates.  After the Packers got the ball back and the final 3 seconds ticked off, the sideline reporter spoke with TO as he sat there on the bench.  As much as I have grown to dislike the man, it was hard not to like him then.

This certainly doesn't justify his antics in subsequent years, but it does bring back some of the reasons for actually liking the guy.  It's amazing what watching an old game will do for you.  If you're looking for fun, old coverage of it, check out the Sports Illustrated article following the game.  Over at cnnsi.com, they've got a free vault of all old coverage.  Definitely worth checking out.

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