Joe Montana's season, one he hoped would end with a record fifth Super Bowl victory, ended Sunday with a crunching sack by Leonard Marshall.
"I still don't know what happened. I don't want to sound like a coach, but I have to look at the video," the injured San Francisco 49ers quarterback said after his teams' 15-13 loss in the NFC championship game to the New York Giants. "I'm still having a tough time breathing deeply."Even if we had won, I wouldn't have been able to play next week."
Team physician Dr. Michael Dillingham confirmed that Montana definitely would have missed the Super Bowl because of a broken bone in his right hand. Montana also sustained a bruised sternum when tackled from behind by Marshall on a pass attempt with about 10 minutes left to play and the 49ers leading 13-9.
"I don't think he saw me coming," Marshall said.
"This is an awfully tough league. Joe took a vicious hit," said Steve Young, who took over at quarterback after Montana was injured and helped move the team into New York territory on its final possession, only to see the potential title-clinching drive end with a fumble and turnover by Roger Craig that set up the fifth field goal of the game by New York's Matt Bahr.
Montana had his hand placed in a temporary cast in the 49ers' locker room after the game, and also had a large red welt on the back of his right shoulder.
Young was the first to reach Montana on the field. "I usually don't run on the field, but I just wanted to make sure he was OK. . . . He had no idea the guy was coming. He was really groggy."
Montana walked off the field at the end of the game but remained in the trainer's room in the 49ers' locker room, where the cast was placed on his hand.
"We hit Montana clean and hard - again and again," Lawrence Taylor said. "We did nothing dirty, just tough, hard-nosed football. . . . It was like two heavyweight boxers slugging it out. .. . They got us and we got them."
Dillingham said that X-rays would be taken Monday on Montana's hand, and that surgery might be necessary. The broken bone is the fifth metecarpal, over the little finger.