HOUSTON, OCT. 7 -- The San Francisco 49ers set an NFL record for consecutive road victories today, aided by a most untimely timeout by the Houston Oilers.

After struggling all game to catch fast-starting Houston, Joe Montana got the break he needed and threw his third touchdown pass, a 46-yarder to John Taylor midway through the fourth quarter for a 24-21 victory and the record 12th consecutive road triumph.

San Francisco remained unbeaten at 4-0 and Houston fell to 2-3.

Montana connected with Taylor a play after backup quarterback Steve Young came into the game and fumbled the snap. The Oilers' Ray Childress recovered the ball but the play was nullified because Houston called time out before the play started.

Montana, shaken up on the previous play, returned and found Taylor, who broke away from cornerback Cris Dishman at the Oilers 43 and ran into the end zone with 6:51 left.

Oilers Coach Jack Pardee said time was called to set up his defense.

"With Young coming in, we weren't sure who else was in the game," he said. "We were expecting Young to bootleg for the first down and we weren't sure of our own personnel. It was such a key play we wanted to set it up to get him stopped."

San Francisco Coach George Seifert said the 49ers also considered a timeout.

"In that situation, it's confusing," he said. "We were going to call time, but we decided to just go ahead and run the play."

The play ran perfectly, capping yet another comeback by Montana and the Super Bowl champions. It was his third touchdown pass -- earlier he hit Taylor for 78 yards and Jerry Rice for a six-yarder. Montana connected on 20 of 28 passes for 318 yards. Taylor caught four of those for 132 yards.

San Francisco's Roger Craig set a record for receptions by a running back with his 494th catch.

"Our defense has been playing well and they gave us the opportunity to get back in the game," Montana said of the Oilers, who led by 14-0. "They took up the slack for us. We were running plays designed to clear out the middle and get man-to-man coverage. We started calling more crossing routes to get the man-to-man matchups."

Warren Moon completed a touchdown pass of 30 yards to Drew Hill and sneaked in from the 1 for that 14-0 edge. His 18-yarder to Haywood Jeffires put the Oilers back on top, 21-14, after the 49ers had pulled even.

"We had been very successful before," Moon said. "Then we didn't execute when we had to. The what-ifs and might-have-beens may haunt me for a couple of days, but then I have to get ready for Cincinnati" next week.

The 49ers narrowed the gap to 21-17 on a 23-yard field goal by Mike Cofer with 11:36 to play. The kick was set up by Montana's passes of 32 and 22 yards to tight end Brent Jones. The 22-yarder set up first and goal at the 7.