American Football: Montana on call as 49ers win in West

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The Independent Online
THE San Francisco 49ers clinched their sixth NFC West title in seven years by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-14 at Candlestick Park on Saturday. Perhaps more significantly for their Super Bowl chances it also ensured home advantage throughout the play-offs. In the day's other game the New York Giants pulled off a major surprise with their 35-21 defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 49ers were well below their best, but Steve Young threw three touchdown passes (two to Jerry Rice) to ensure they finish ahead of New Orleans in their division. For the first time in nearly two years Joe Montana - the quarterback who has guided the 49ers to four Super Bowl triumphs - watched the game with a uniform on. Activated from the injured list on Friday, the 36-year-old Montana, who has had persistent problems with his elbow, was listed as the 49ers' third-string play-caller.

The Giants' victory came at the end of a turbulent week in New York which included further speculation that their head coach, Ray Handley, would be sacked at the end of the season, and reports that there was dissension among players and coaches. But Rodney Hampton rushed for three touchdowns and Jeff Hostetler threw for a couple more as the Giants ended a run of five successive defeats.