Joe Montana didn't like it but he set three team records and tied another in his San Francisco 49ers' 38-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons today.
His five touchdown passes tied a 49ers record, and, by completing 37 of 57 passes for 429 yards, he set team records in those categories. But most of his passes were 10 yards or less.
"I never really feel comfortable with the short game," he said. "It's hard to be patient at times. We always used to play like that, but we had gotten away from it."
Montana's coach, Bill Walsh, said he "felt more comfortable" with the short game. "It's hard to run on Atlanta," he said. "They had a good defense, but they were in a zone against our passing most of the day and they had a difficult time covering man to man."
Montana's touchdown passes covered 46 yards to Roger Craig, 14 to Wendell Tyler, 25 to Jerry Rice, 5 to John Frank and 32 to Dwight Clark. Craig caught 12 passes, a club record, for 167 yards.
The two teams set two NFL records by completing 68 of 102 passes. The record had been 100 passes, set in last year's Tampa Bay-Kansas City game, and 66 completions, set by Cincinnati and San Diego in 1982.
The 49ers never trailed, but reserve quarterback David Archer ran 29 yards to cut Atlanta's fourth-period deficit to 17-10. The 49ers then put the game out of reach with two scores within 20 seconds.
Montana led a 67-yard drive that took seven plays. He completed three of four passes for 46 yards, including his longest pass of the day -- the 25-yarder to Rice with 11:46 to play.
On Atlanta's first series, Dwaine Board sacked Archer and forced a fumble that Todd Shell recovered on the Falcons' five. Montana passed to Frank on the next play and the 49ers led, 31-10.
The 49ers are 3-2 and the Falcons, who have lost 13 of their last 14 games, are 0-5.