The only curse left to lift was the one on Craig. He dispelled it entirely and put a little whipped cream on his remarkable year with his 80-yard touchdown gallop. The run was the longest ever from scrimmage in postseason play. Show-off.
Far less showy was the performance of Minnesota's best player, wideout Anthony Carter, who lit up Candlestick a year ago with a playoff-record 227 yards in pass receptions. This time AC, who had the flu all week, didn't have a pass thrown his way until the third quarter.
Oh, the Vikings will be all right. They are young and improving. "It would help us a little to get a running game," said Wilson afterward. San Francisco held Minnesota to 54 yards on the ground. A decent running game would mean that teams like the Niners couldn't take out all their linebackers and use seven defensive backs to cover Carter.
So the Vikings go back to wearing down their couch springs, and the 49ers go to Chicago for an appointment with frostbite. "Time to bust out the long Johns," said San Francisco defensive end Daniel Stubbs. If the Niners bust out some long yardage against the Bears, they'll take their third trip to the Super Bowl in this decade. And Montana could win his third Super Bowl MVP. Nobody else has done that.
"The thing that counts now," said Craig, "is how bad your heart wants it." Montana's heart wants it so badly that he got up after giving the game ball to Walsh and made a rare speech to his teammates. He told them that too many teams have gone on after a big win to suffer a big loss. "We can't allow it to happen to us," said Montana.
The Vikings didn't think it could happen to them, after their big season. "This screws me up real bad," said Minnesota's 32-year-old defensive end Bubba Baker, one of the more seasoned players among the Vikings. "I didn't make any plans based on our losing."
Baker will learn. The callow Vikings may become the team of the 1990s, but we're still in the '80s, and the team of this decade is the irrepressible 49ers.