GREEN BAY, WIS., DEC. 6 -- Joe Montana was too busy throwing passes and leading the San Francisco 49ers back to the playoffs to worry about setting an NFL record with 22 consecutive completions.
"It's nice to be in the record book but it's even better we won," Montana said after San Francisco defeated the Green Bay Packers today, 23-12.
He completed his first 17 passes. Coupled with five straight completions a week earlier against Cleveland, Montana's string of 22 broke the record of 20 set by Ken Anderson of Cincinnati in 1983.
"To be honest, I had no idea about the record. I didn't find out about the record until Steve Young told me about it in the locker room," Montana said.
He threw two touchdown passes, including a 57-yarder to Jerry Rice with 7:32 left that put the game out of reach after Green Bay pulled within four points. Montana also ran for a touchdown.
"Joe Montana's a great player, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game," said 49ers Coach Bill Walsh, whose team clinched its fifth straight playoff berth.
"The Rice TD was the biggest play of the game because they had the momentum," Walsh said.
Montana's two touchdown passes give him a career-high 29 for the season. Rice has now caught a scoring pass in 10 straight games, one short of the NFL record.
"It was a long day out there. I got hit in the face a couple of times. The touchdown streak doesn't mean a lot to me. I just want to get to the Super Bowl and get a ring," Rice said.
Montana, the league's top passer, completed 26 of 35 passes for 308 yards, including 19 of 22 passes in the first half.
The 49ers (10-2) also came up with three second-half interceptions and a fumble recovery to thwart the Packers (4-7-1).
Green Bay closed to within 16-12 on Paul Ott Carruth's 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter following an interception by Green Bay's Dave Brown. But Max Zendejas missed the extra point. Lott then picked off two Randy Wright passes to stop the Packers, the second one at the 49ers' 9-yard line with 10:26 left.
After the Packers' Walter Stanley fumbled a punt, Montana passed to Rice, who raced past three Green Bay defenders to complete the 57-yard scoring play and make it 23-12.
"He threaded the needle. There wasn't that much space," Gregg said. "I thought the ball would be knocked down. Our safety couldn't have caught Rice unless he had jets in his shoes."
Montana threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tom Rathman in the first quarter to make it 7-0.
He completed his 15th straight pass Sunday, a 5-yarder to Roger Craig, to tie the record of 20. Two plays later, he ran a quarterback draw 10 yards to give the 49ers a 13-0 lead.
Montana's 10-yard pass to Ron Heller was his 21st straight over two games and set the record.
His 17th straight on Sunday and 22nd over two games was a 34-yarder to John Taylor that set up Ray Wersching's 25-yard field goal that made it 16-3.