American Football: Montana shoots down young guns: The Kansas City quarterback shows he still has the killer instinct

Click to follow
JUST when the San Francisco 49ers were beginning to feel good about themselves without Joe Montana, the man has to go and spoil things. He may be 38, and he may have a dodgy elbow, but when it comes to finding a winning way old Joe has few peers. Make that none.

The 49ers arrived in Kansas City fresh from pounding the much-admired Raiders and with any number of pundits already convinced that pre-season predictions returning the Super Bowl to the Bay area needed only time to be vindicated. A defense enriched by a hectic bout of trading trained its sights on Montana and prepared to teach him about the new order. He promptly reminded them about the old.

When Montana left the 49ers, having guided them to four Super Bowl victories, he was hailed as the greatest quarterback in the franchise's history, and maybe the game's. In his second season with the Chiefs, and facing the 49ers for the first time, Montana showed few signs of fading with age. By the end of a vintage performance he had thrown a couple of touchdowns and guided the Chiefs to a 24-17 victory.

'It's special because there are a lot of old friends on that team,' Montana said. 'There was no feeling of vindication. It was definitely a big victory for our team. This game meant a lot to me. It's hard to leave an organisation you have been with for so long, but I wasn't going to get a chance to compete as the starter. I made the right choice.'

Steve Young, who replaced Montana, had a bruising day behind a rickety line. He was sacked four times, three by Derrick Thomas, though the biggest damage may be psychological: the knowledge that Montana's shadow will stalk him for another season. 'In a lot of ways, it shows the master still had some more to teach the student,' he said.

'Believe in Joe? I've been believing in Joe since I was 10 years old,' said the Chiefs' wide receiver Joe Valerio, who caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Montana.

The Chiefs' victory gives them a 2-0 record and a share of the lead in the AFC West, a division which shows signs of being unusually powerful. This season's surprise package may be Seattle, who followed last week's defeat of Washington by being this week's team to wallop the Raiders: 38-9.

Dallas won the 'Battle of Texas', but their 20-17 defeat of Houston was hardly of the hat-throwing variety. 'It's a win, but we are not going to brag about it,' Barry Switzer, the Cowboys head coach, said.

After two games, the least contented man in the NFL is likely to be Bill Parcells. For the second week in a row his New England Patriots scored 35 points. For the second week in a row they lost. While this is enough to upset most coaches, to Parcells, who prides himself in defensively dominating, ball-control football, it is enough to prompt thoughts of retirement.

This time the conquerors were Buffalo, whose 38- point return was rather better than the three they scored seven days earlier. Drew Bledsoe, perhaps the most exciting young quarterback in the game, threw three TDs and brought the Patriots back to 35-35 in the fourth quarter, only to see Steve Christie secure victory 52 seconds from time with a 32-yard field goal.

NFL: LA Rams 13 Atlanta 31; Pittsburgh 17 Cleveland 10; Miami 24 Green Bay 14; San Francisco 17 Kansas City 24; Detroit 3 Minnesota 10; Buffalo 38 New England 35; Indianapolis 10 Tampa Bay 24; Houston 17 Dallas 20; Seattle 38 LA Raiders 9; Washington 38 New Orleans 24; Denver 22 NY Jets 25 (OT); Cincinnati 10 San Diego 27; NY Giants 20 Arizona 17.

The National Labor Relations Board has awarded NFL players a record dollars 30m ( pounds 19.2m) in back pay arising from the 24-day strike in 1987.

(Photograph omitted)

Comments