The 1989 NFL championship game appeared destined to become one of the real battles Super Bowl fans had ever seen as the league's highest scoring team, the San Francisco 49ers, faced the Denver Broncos, the NFL's stingiest team that allowed the fewest points. Sadly, it was anything but. San Francisco were the defending champions and the Denver was trying to avoid being the second team to lose four Super Bowls – the other being the Minnesota Vikings. San Francisco posted the best record in the National Football League at 14-2 under new head coach George Seifert and had the league's unanimous MVP in Joe Montana, who threw for 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns and a 70.2 completion percentage. After the 49ers impressive regular season record, they beat up on the Vikings 41-13 in the NFC Divisional Playoff and then dispatched the Los Angeles Rams 30-3 in the NFC Conference title game. The Broncos, on the other hand, had the best record in the AFC going 11-5 on the strength of their quarterback's arm and smothering defense. Elway also threw for more than 3,000 yards and 18 TDs leading Denver back to the Super Bowl for the third time. Elway had his greatest playoffs to date this season as he led the Broncos past the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-23 in the AFC Division Game and then for a third time beat the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Conference Championship 37-21.
Also for the third time, the Super Bowl was played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 28, 1990. The Broncos return to the Super Bowl turned horribly bad almost immediately. When they went three-and-out on the first drive, the 49ers marched 66 yards down the field and Montana hit Jerry Rice with a 20-yard touchdown pass to begin the scoring in the first half. The 49ers scoring came fast and furiously as they scored on eight of their 13 drives during the game. Kicker David Treadwell cut the lead to 7-3 on the next drive when he kicked a 42-yard field goal. Montana threw a second touchdown pass to Brent Jones from 7 yards out to increase the Niners lead to 13-3 by the end of the first quarter. (Mike Cofer missed the extra point.) In the second quarter, running back Tom Rathman scored on a 1-yard rush capping off a 69 yard drive and later in the period, Montana connected with Jerry Rice for a 38-yard touchdown pass giving the 49ers a score of 27-3 going into halftime. The San Francisco defense led by linebackers Charles Haley and Matt Millen, cornerback Darryl Pollard and free safety and future Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott shut down the Broncos for the entire game and the offense continued to click. In the second half, Montana hooked up with Rice again for a 28-yard touchdown and then John Taylor for a 35-yard score. John Elway found the end zone on a 3-yard rush late in the third quarter to cut the lead to 41-10. The start the fourth, San Francisco scored the first two drives as Rathman added another 3-yard rushing touchdown and then running back Roger Craig scored another six. With the extra point by Mike Cofer, the lead was now 55-10, the final score of the game. Super Bowl XXIV was the most lopsided victory in Super Bowl history and the 45 points was also the largest margin of victory. The Niners set a still-standing Super Bowl record for most touchdowns in a game with eight and for the third time, Joe Montana was crowned the Super Bowl XXIV Most Valuable Player following his 22-for-29 performance with 297 passing yards and five TDs. Conversely, the Denver Broncos joined the Minnesota Vikings as the only team to lose four Super Bowls.