GREEN Bay, Wis. — Joe Montana put himself into the National Football League record book but to him it was secondary to putting the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs.
Montana set a National Football League record with 22 consecutive pass completions over two games, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another Sunday to lift the 49ers to a 23-12 playoff-clinching victory over the Green Bay Packers.
"It's nice to be in the record book but it's even better we won," Montana said.
"To be honest, I had no idea about the record. I didn't find out about the record until (backup quarterback) Steve Young told me about it in the locker room."
Montana completed his first 17 passes for 185 yards, giving him 22 consecutive completions to break the NFL mark of 20 established Jan. 2, 1983, by Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson. Montana completed his last five passes last week against Cleveland.
San Francisco (10-2) clinched at least a wild-card playoff spot and remained in sole possession of first place in the NFC West.
"Montana is a great player, one of the greatest who has played the game," 49er Coach Bill Walsh said of the quarterback who has taken San Francisco to two Super Bowl championships.
Montana threw touchdown passes of 57 yards to Jerry Rice and 5 yards to Tom Rathman and scored on a 10-yard quarterback draw.
Montana's two touchdown passes give him a career-high 29 for the season. Rice has caught a scoring pass in 10 straight games, one short of the NFL record.
"The touchdown streak doesn't mean a lot to me," Rice said. "I just want to get to the Super Bowl and get a ring.
"It was a long day out there. I got hit in the face a couple of times."
Rice's 57-yard touchdown play midway through the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner for the 49ers.
Green Bay (4-7-1) helped the 49ers with five turnovers, including three interceptions--two by Ronnie Lott.
"The blown opportunities certainly are the most frustrating," Green Bay Coach Forrest Gregg said. "That and our turning over the football."
Walsh claimed the Packers' defense held his receivers.
"We're concerned about the officiating in this game, to be honest with you," he said. "They (Packers) took away our short passing game in the second half by grabbing our receivers. They grabbed them all over the field and we're terribly distressed by that."
San Francisco jumped to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when Montana connected with Rathman. Montana then put the 49ers in front, 13-0, with his scoring run.
Green Bay's Max Zendejas kicked field goals of 30 and 45 yards, but Ray Wersching's field goal made it 16-6 at halftime.
The Packers pulled within 16-12 on a one-yard scoring run by Paul Ott Carruth in the third quarter after Dave Brown intercepted Montana's pass and returned it three yards to San Francisco's 25. It was Brown's 53rd career interception, making him the NFL's career leader among active players.
Lott then picked off two passes by Randy Wright to stop the Packers, the second one at the 49ers' nine-yard line with 10:26 left.
San Francisco's Tim McKyer also had an interception in the second half. He went high in the end zone to take Wright's pass away from Keith Paskett early in the third quarter.
"Ronnie Lott's interceptions and the turnovers made the difference," Walsh said.
After the Packers' Walter Stanley fumbled a punt, Montana passed to Rice, who raced past three Green Bay defenders to complete the 57-yard scoring play and make it 23-12.
"He threaded the needle," Gregg said. "There wasn't that much space. I thought the ball would be knocked down. Our safety couldn't have caught Rice unless he had jets in his shoes."
Said Walsh: "The Rice TD was the biggest play of the game because they had the momentum."
Montana completed 26 of 35 passes for 308 yards. His first incompletion came with 3:33 left in the first half when he missed Rice in the end zone from seven yards out.
Montana's 17th straight completion of the game and 22nd overall came three plays earlier--a 34-yarder to wide receiver John Taylor.