GLS Retrospective takes a look at some of the most memorable events in NFL history. Today’s installment features the day Terrell Owens became a star. 

Yes, we’re going to do the Catch II before the Catch I. There’s more Pat Summerall in this one.

One of my favorite writers – Ta Nieshi Coates – talked about this a few weeks ago  and recalled some of his memories from this 1999 NFC Wild Card Playoff. For both of us, the most lasting memory from this game will be Terrell Owens breaking down after making the biggest catch of his life.

Lately, we’ve seen T.O crying in public for different reasons. Let’s remember a day when an enigmatic star confronted his new found fame with a sea of tears.

Some bits and bites:

  • The Packers had beaten the 49ers three consecutive times in the playoffs prior to this game. Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre gave Bay Area residents night terrors.
  • Listening to John Madden add insightful commentary was great. It’s easy to forget how good Summerall and Madden were in their prime.
  • If the 49ers lost this game Steve Mariucci almost surely would have been fired by the team in the offseason.
  • The two hits T.O absorbs as he’s catching that ball are huge. After Steve Young jokingly referred to the play as ‘the throw’, but Owens does the heavy lifting here.
  • Instant replay was introduced next season, and it was sorely needed here because this game would’ve ended in a Packers victory had it been in place. Jerry Rice clearly fumbles before he hits the ground with 25 seconds left in the game.
  • Packers GM Ron Wolf : ”Yes, I certainly did think that was a fumble, I would think anybody that understands what a fumble is would think that’s a fumble.”
  • Mike Holmgren: ”They told me from upstairs [in the coaches' box] that it was a fumble,” Holmgren said. “. . . I wish they would have called that–then the game would have been over. Jerry has certainly earned his respect in this business, but I think when they call the game they shouldn’t look at the numbers, and I don’t think they did.”
  • Owens was having a terrible game before the last second throw. He doesn’t become the No. 1 wide receiver in San Francisco without making that catch.
  • Young retired after the 1999 season, and the 49ers quickly became an afterthought in the NFC.
  • There are now three ‘Catch’ games in 49ers fan lore. The latest was created by Alex Smith and Vernon Davis against the Saints last year.