Joe Montana came to Notre Dame out of Monongahela, Pa. in 1974, and he actually had a hard time winning a starting job for the Irish, apparently due to poor performances in practice.  But when Joe Montana hit the playing field his performances were amazing and his comeback victories are the stuff that has turned Joe into a Notre Dame legend.

Montana led the Irish to a 38-10 victory over then No. 1 Texas and to the national championship in the 1978 Cotton Bowl but his most amazing Bowl performance occurred the next year, again in the Cotton Bowl. 

On a brutally cold day and icy field, things looked bleak for the Irish and the comeback kid. By halftime that day the Irish trailed Houston 20-12 and Montana was fighting off the flu and hyperthermia.  His body temperature had fallen to 96 degrees on the unseasonably cold day in Texas. His face ashen, he reclined in a corner of the locker room covered with blankets.

Then what turned out to be something of a miracle cure arrived.  A team doctor prescribed a bowl of chicken soup. Montana took his medicine but remained in the locker room through the third quarter.

Joe reentered the game with 7:37 remaining in the 4th quarter and the situation on the scoreboard had gotten worse.  The Irish trailed Houston 34-12.  Montana would have to perform almost perfectly if the Irish were to have any hope. 

The team’s spirit was buoyed by the reappearance of their leader. The defense made plays and Montana performed brilliantly as he methodically brought the Irish back. After a defensive score, a Montana rushing TD and a couple of two point conversion passes, Joe threw the winning touchdown pass to Kris Haines with no time left on the clock. The extra point was good and the Irish prevailed 35-34.

The game set in stone Montana’s reputation as the comeback kid.

With a National Championship and four Super Bowl rings to his credit, a few years ago Montana was named by Sports Illustrated “the No. 1 clutch quarterback of all time”.

Joe Montana is a living Notre Dame legend and an All-Time Irish Hero.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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