San Francisco Examiner

L.T. cheers Watters' 5 TDs
 
 
January 03, 2003
 
BY JOHN CROWLEY
Of The Examiner Staff

If you were a fan of the 49ers, the day was memorable for Ricky Watters' NFL playoff-record five touchdowns. If you were a fan of the New York Giants, the lasting significance of the Jan. 15, 1994, NFC divisional playoff contest was that it was Lawrence Taylor's final game.

Watters delivered the finest performance by a running back in the 70-year history of the playoffs, leading San Francisco to a 44-3 victory and a spot in the conference championship game. He had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs, sandwiched around a Mike Cofer 29-yard field goal, to give the 49ers a 16-0 lead two seconds into the second quarter. He added a pair of 2-yard scores and one 6-yarder, finishing with 118 yards on the ground.

Taylor provided the highlight of Watters' day in the third quarter when No. 56 said, "You're running your butt off today. Keep it up."

"L.T. complimented me," said Watters, who made a pregame sprint around the stadium to slap hands with fans. "When someone like that says that, you've got to feel good. It was a tribute to L.T. that I was as pumped today as I was."

The Giants never got their ball-control offense on track, falling behind 23-3 at the half en route to the worst playoff loss in team history. New York's only score came on David Treadwell's 25-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

New York's Phil Simms was sacked four times, twice by Dana Stubblefield, and intercepted twice, first by Tim McDonald and then by Eric Davis. Simms finished 12-of-25 for 124 yards before stepping aside for Dave Brown, who threw a fourth-quarter interception to Ravin Caldwell.

In contrast, 49ers quarterback Steve Young played a near-perfect game. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 226 yards, guiding the 49ers to scores in four of their first five possessions. Taylor's fearsome pass rush never developed and Young took advantage of the lack of pressure.

Taylor announced his retirement in the locker room, closing out a 13-year career that included 132 sacks, tops among linebackers.

"It's been 13 years of enjoyable times," Taylor said, "but I think it's time to call it quits. I've done everything I can do. I've been to Super Bowls, I've been to the playoffs. I've been a dominant force. I've earned the respect of players and people in general around the country. That's what you want to do in a good career and that's what I've done."


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