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The Giants showed compassion Sunday. They showed great compassion for their coach, Bill Parcells, because if they had dumped the Gatorade over his head when the game was wrapped up, as is their custom, Parcells would have had to stand out in the cold of Giants Stadium for the whole second half of the San Francisco game, turning into a block of ice, and he would probably be in bed with pneumonia right now.
So the Giants waited until only 2:23 remained, and the final score of New York 49, San Francisco 3 had been on the board for almost a full quarter, before they struck. Noseguard Jim Burt grabbed Parcells, and linebacker Harry Carson let the coach have it with a barrel full of smush—Carson was cleverly disguised in the team doctor's hat and the team dentist's coat—and the eight fans still in the stands cheered. High jinks in the Meadowlands, folks.
This was a playoff game? Well, yeah, that's what the program said. The Giants now face the Redskins, whom they've beaten twice this season, for the trip to the Super Bowl. So which team do you like—the Redskins, a wild-card entry, or the Giants, who unraveled the 49ers like a ball of string?
"I almost felt bad about it," said Billy Ard, the Giants left guard. "I don't know...you score so many times, you keep lining up and kicking extra points, you look over at the 49ers, at their faces. What the hell, they're guys like us."
"The only time I was ever whipped this bad," 49er free safety Ronnie Lott said, "was when I was a little kid playing in the backyard. But in organized football—never."
Someone mentioned the 49ers' fourth play of the game, when wideout Jerry Rice was on his way to a touchdown and he fumbled the ball into the Giants end zone, and Walsh brushed it away like a bad dream. "You can't relate this to any one play," he said. "It would be an excuse of monumental proportions."
The same play was mentioned to the Giants' Lawrence Taylor. He laughed. "If they score on that one, they lose 49-10," he said, echoing an old line from the Bears' 73-0 whipping of the Redskins in the title game 46 years ago.
Taylor figured in the game's most significant play. It came late in the second quarter, and though it didn't turn the game, it iced it. Burt came barreling up the middle and crashed into Joe Montana as he released the ball. The 49er quarterback's pass fluttered toward the left side, where Taylor grabbed it and then ran 34 yards for a touchdown. The score was 28-3 after the kick. Montana was out cold with a severe concussion. An hour and a half later he was in an ambulance on his way to a New York hospital.
"I couldn't have pulled up, geez," Burt said. "I don't know how he was hit, whether he hit his head on the ground or what. I feel real bad about it."