Following an owner’s meeting that was held in Honolulu on June 14, 1979, Super Bowl XVI was awarded to Pontiac, Michigan.

Super Bowl XVI was played between the AFC’s Cincinnati Bengals and NFC’s San Francisco 49ers on January 24, 1982, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan to decide which team would be crowned champions of the 1981 football season.

It was the 49ers that secured the victory and their first Super Bowl following a hotly contested game.

Notable for:

  • Super Bowl XVI played in Pontiac, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and was the first time the game had been held in a cold-weather location. While the domed stadium sheltered the crowd against the wet and stormy conditions, the weather did cause many logistical nightmares.
  • Super Bowl clocked up more than 85 million viewers, making it the one of the most watched programs in US television history.

This hard-fought game could have gone either way. Following Cincinnati’s kick off, Amos Lawrence immediately grabbed a fumble, providing the Bengals with a chance to drive the ball to the five-yard line. Fortunately, the 49ers regained their composure in the nick of time and sacked Ken Anderson to end the threat.

Joe Montana subsequently spearheaded a downfield drive, completing several passes along the way in addition to participating in a flea-flicker play that allowed his team to advance 14 yards and go on to score a touchdown.

Montana led play again in the second quarter. Having gained the ball thanks to a Cris Collinsworth fumble, Montana moved his team forward from the eight-yard line before hitting Earl Cooper with a scoring strike to extend the lead to 14-0. Ray Wersching extended this lead with a field goal. Then, following an Archie Griffin fumble, the 49ers set Werching up for a further field goal, taking the score to 20-0, which was the highest second-quarter lead in any Super Bowl to that date.

The Bengals returned to the field for the second half with a momentous task on their hands. Having taken the kickoff, they showed great promise with an 83-yard drive to score a touchdown. The rest of the third quarter was relatively uneventful, and the score remained at 20-7.

In the final quarter of the game, the Bengals increased the score to 20-14 following a touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Anderson to Ross. However, the 49ers returned to their previous form by scoring a field goal, giving them a 23-14 lead with just five minutes left on the clock. Moments later, Wersching kicked a fourth field goal, increasing the 49ers lead to 26-14 with less than two minutes remaining. The Bengals responded with a 3-yard touchdown, but it was all too late in the game, which ended in the 49ers 26-21 triumph.

Joe Montana was named the MVP, having completed 14 of his 22 passes, gaining 157 yards, and scoring a touchdown

Final Score: San Francisco 49ers (NFC) – 26 Vs. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) – 21
January 24, 1982
Stadium: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan
MVP: Joe Montana, Quarterback
Favorite: 49ers by 1
Referee: Pat Haggerty
Attendance: 81,270

National anthem: Diana Ross
Coin toss: Bobby Layne
Halftime show: Up with People presents “Salute to the 1960s and Motown”