In short order, the Giants got the ball at their own 29 again. They moved the ball to midfield in three plays, and then Simms hit Robinson for a 49-yard bomb to the 1. From there, Ottis Anderson punched in the go-ahead touchdown with more than three minutes still left in the third quarter. Simms had completed eight of nine passes for 175 yards in the three rapid-fire Giants scoring drives.
When the Giants intercepted Montana’s next pass and returned it to the San Francisco 39, it looked like New York was ready to put the game away for good. However, Bavaro fumbled the ball at the 6, and the last quarter was a hard-fought struggle between two great teams. In the final minutes, Montana began one of his patented comeback drives, leading the 49ers to the Giants’ 17 with 1:16 left to play.
But on third-and-four, Wendell Tyler was stopped for a three-yard loss by Gary Reasons. He also fumbled the ball, but the play was allowed to stand. Then on fourth-and-seven from the 20, Montana was hit by linebacker Andy Headen as he tried to throw to Roger Craig over the middle, and the pass dropped harmlessly to the ground. The Giants had a great comeback win over a tough rival and were on track for a super season.
Mark Bavaro did not like the handle “Rambo” which his teammates gave him for his resemblance to the Sylvester Stallone movie character because he found it disrespectful to the men who fought in the Vietnam War. Out of respect for this quiet, powerful tight end and popular teammate, his fellow Giants quickly dropped the nickname.
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Bavaro was a tough football player who sank to the fourth round of the 1985 draft after suffering through knee and shoulder injuries and coaching problems at Notre Dame. In New York, he gamely played through foot and toe injuries, a broken jaw, neck sprains, and multiple knee surgeries during his six years as a Giant. While this famous reception against the 49ers may have been extreme, it was not unusual for Bavaro to drag tacklers with him as he gained extra yards after a catch. Perhaps even more impressive was his blocking; he regularly took on defensive ends all by himself. He took pride in being a complete tight end, excellent at both blocking and receiving.
Bavaro missed the 1991 season after having knee surgery, and then signed on for a year in Cleveland and two in Philadelphia before retiring. He set a Giants record for receptions in a game, catching 12 in a 1985 game against Cincinnati (later broken by Tiki Barber with 13), and was a two-time All-Pro.
Tight end Mark Bavaro’s sure-handed heroics fueled the Giants’ second-half comeback against the 49ers on Monday Night Football.
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