On January 3rd, 1999, San Francisco 49ers players Steve Young and Terrell Owens came up with a game-winning 25-yard touchdown catch. This famous catch soon went down in history as “The Catch II,” and propelled Owens’ rise to the NFL Hall of Fame.
“I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for that play to be honest,” Owens confessed. “If you take that one catch, that one touchdown away from me, I don’t know where I would be. It was a play that really catapulted my career.”
During an eight-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Owens caught 592 passes for 8,572 yards. He even recorded 81 touchdowns for the franchise. In addition to that, his outspoken personality and showmanship made “T.O.”‘s popularity skyrocket.
However, Owens and Young’s tag-team performance remains as one of their greatest moments. The play itself is remarkable because Owens plucked the ball while in traffic and absorbed two big hits at the touchdown line.
During the 1998 regular season, Owens burst onto the scene as a budding star for the San Francisco 49ers. “At this point I realized the 49ers saw something in me, and I didn’t want to be a disappointment,” Owens said of his 1998 season.
How the San Francisco 49ers duo performed that incredible stunt
After trailing 17-10 at halftime, the 49ers scored 10 points to take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. Soon, Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman gave the Packers a 27-23 lead with 1:56 to play. Unfortunately, Owens got off to a sluggish start and was benched for much of the game.
Then, wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey convinced the head coach to gamble on Owens. Strategically speaking, three receivers would open things up in the Packers secondary with just :54 on the clock.
“Owens was standing next to me as we were driving down the field,” Kirksey said. “I said, ‘Mooch, let’s put Terrell back in the ball game.'”
San Francisco 49ers had one last shot at the end zone from 25 yards out with :08 remaining. Apparently, Owens was open on the near interception, but Young could not see him.
So, Terrell Owens ran up the seam towards the middle in front of safety Darren Sharper. Young threaded a pass between three defenders to Owens, who staved off two defenders for the game-winning touchdown.
The play ended San Francisco’s five-game losing streak against Green Bay and secured Owens’ place in 49ers folklore.