In Washington, we haven’t yet seen what Mike Shanahan would do if he had the chance to run up the score on another team. Most of the 11 wins in his two seasons have been decided either in the final seconds or in overtime. The need for Shanahan to decide if he should sit on the ball or continue to pile up points has not come up.
That has not always been the case. He was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers in their 49-24 pasting of the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. During that game, Steve Young threw a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes.
But according to Young, Shanahan didn’t want him to stop there. During a charity event over the weekend the Hall of Fame quarterback said that Shanahan wanted him to keep throwing for touchdowns after he had reached six.
Young’s last touchdown pass, a seven-yarder to Jerry Rice, gave the Niners a 49-18 lead in the fourth quarter. Why might Shanahan have wanted to run up the score? For one thing, a seventh touchdown pass for Young would have tied the mark for most TD passes in any NFL game, regular season or playoffs. That has been accomplished five times but not since Joe Kapp did it for the Vikings in 1969.
There also might have been a self-serving reason why Shanahan wanted to have the points soar that day. He wanted to be a head coach again and for all he knew at the time this may have been his last good chance to get a gig. Perhaps he wanted to run up some more points to make it absolutely impossible for the NFL owners looking to hire a new head coach to ignore.
As it turns out, the six Young TD passes were plenty. Shanahan was hired by the Broncos a few days after the Super Bowl.