Super Bowl XVI pitted the NFC league's best (13-3) San Francisco 49ers against the AFC's (12-4) Cincinnati Bengals at the Pontiac Superdome in Detroit, MI on January 24, 1982. Bengals' quarterback Kenny Anderson was named that season's NFL's Most Valuable Player and NFL Comeback Player of the Year award winner that season, making Cincinnati the favorite. The 49ers lineup was filled with youth and skill; however, behind quarterback Joe Montana the Niners fielded, among others, future Hall of Famer and rookie, Ronnie Lott in the defensive backfield and NFC Championship game hero, Dwight Clark leading the wide receivers. Cincinnati had its own future HOFer in Anthony Munoz on the offensive line and Cris Collinsworth catching passes. The game took place at the Pontiac Superdome in Detroit, Michigan on January 24, 1982, marking this as the first Super Bowl played in a cold-weather city, and the only one ever played at the Detroit venue. It was also the first meeting with first-time Super Bowl teams since Super Bowl III.
Despite the beginning fumble recovery in Cincinnati's favor, the Bengals suffered setback after fumble after interception in the first half alone with every break going in the 49ers favor, Cincinnati went into the locker-room down 0-20. The Bengals returned rejuvenated, scoring on the opening drive of the second half, cutting the Niners lead to 20-7. Cincinnati slowly picked away at the 49ers lead in the third and fourth quarters, but struggled to overcome the deficit as the game clock wound down. San Francisco hit two field goals in the final quarter to put the game out of reach for Cincinnati, despite the Bengals fighting back to a 26-21 score. Fittingly, Dwight Clark, who hooked up with Joe Montana in the NFC Championship Game with "The Catch", fell of the ball in the final seconds allowing the 49ers to run out the clock. San Francisco won 26-21 for their first Super Bowl championship. Bengals' QB Kenny Anderson completed 25 of 34 passes for 300 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while rushing for 15. Niners QB Joe Montana competed 14 passes in 22 attempts for 157 yards with one passing and one rushing touchdown. Montana was named Super Bowl XVI Most Valuable Player and catapulted him into superstardom. This was the first Super Bowl that the losing team amassed more total yardage than the victors (Cincinnati – 356, San Francisco – 275).