"75 for 75" is an article series from the 49ers Museum highlighting legendary moments in 49ers history as part of the team's 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2021.
October 10, 2004
San Francisco's perennial high-powered offense has been directed by a series of Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Over the years Frankie Albert, Y.A. Tittle, John Brodie, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia have gathered most of the 49ers passing marks. Tim Rattay, the 49ers seventh round pick (212th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Tech, established the team's single-game completion record with an epic effort against the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.
Arizona linebacker Calvin Pace called them "dink and dunk passes." To the 49ers, they were game-winning darts and fingertip receptions. Rattay sparked the 49ers to their first win of the season by connecting on 38 of 57 throws for 417 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Eric Johnson led Rattay's supporting cast by nabbing 13 passes for 162 yards and one score.
"It was like a playoff game," Johnson said. "We needed that win. It was do or die, and we couldn't afford to be 0-5."
In a game dominated by Arizona for 55 minutes, the 49ers caught fire when it counted. Rattay dominated at crunch time, accounting for 16 points in the game's final five minutes. He hit on two touchdown passes then added a pair of two-point conversions to tie the game. The 49ers went on to beat the Cardinals in overtime 31-28 on Todd Peterson's 32-yard field goal.
Trailing 28-12 with 4:35 to play, Rattay completed nine of 14 passes on an 80-yard drive, three of them to Johnson. Rattay finished it with a six-yard scoring toss to his tight end then ran for the two-point conversion to breathe life into the 49ers.
After San Francisco's defense stopped the Cardinals on three plays, Rattay was at it again. He completed four of five passes while guiding the 49ers 72 yards. With 1:02 left on the clock, he capped the drive with a 23-yard scoring dart to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Rattay then added a two-point conversion pass to Lloyd to tie the game at 28 and send it to overtime. In a brilliant fourth quarter, Rattay connected on 13 of 19 throws for 127 yards.
In overtime, the Rattay-to-Johnson connection continued. Johnson caught a crucial 23-yard reception on the 49ers first drive setting up Peterson's game-winning field goal.
"It was a great win. What can I say about these guys," coach Dennis Erickson remarked in his postgame interview. "They were down and out and there wasn't anyone in the stadium that thought we had any chance to come back. Who would?"
"They weren't doing anything different," Cardinals coach Dennis Green said. "We just couldn't stop them."
Rattay connected on 38 of 57 throws, snapping Joe Montana's single-game completions record. Not surprisingly, Rattay was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week. Johnson's 13 catches set a 49ers single-game mark for a tight end until George Kittle posted 15 in 2020.