Posted: 7:10 p.m.
Whatever number the stat geek doesn’t know, his son is supposed to know. But both of them got blanked like Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter when it came to Sunday’s 44th Super Bowl.
Jim Breech, who geeked himself to the top of the all-time Bengals scoring list, was minding his own business at his home in Liberty Township, Ohio, on the northern outskirts of Cincinnati with some friends watching the game when a number he didn’t know hit him flush out of Google. As the Saints’ Garrett Hartley lined up his third field goal try of the day, a CBS graphic told viewers that Hartley and Breech were the only men to have kicked two field goals of least 40 yards in a Super Bowl.
By the time one of his friends alerted Breech to his name, it was gone and so was the record as Hartley’s 47-yarder went true to go next to his 46- and 44-yarders.
Ah, this isn’t 1989 anymore. The Breeches were able to run it back on DVR, see the name a few times and then record it for posterity.
“I found out I had it and lost it in about five seconds,” Breech says with a laugh. “It absolutely shocked me. I couldn’t believe it that no one else had done it until then.”
As every Cincinnati school kid knows, Breech’s two 40-plus-yard field goals in Super Bowl XXIII gave the Bengals the lead in the second half and were supposed to be the deciding points in a 16-13 shocker of the 49ers on that same field in Miami. Until a couple of Hall of Fame busts named Joe Montana and Jerry Rice bronzed a 20-16 San Francisco victory with a 92-yard drive that produced the 49ers title with just 34 seconds left.
John Breech, Breech’s 28-year-old son, was a Cincinnati school kid (Turpin High in Anderson Township) and he can tell you that and a lot more. Young Breech was literally born for Super Bowls. He arrived three days after The Freezer Bowl that vaulted the Bengals into their first Super Bowl at the end of the 1981 season. And he was in the locker room enough for that ’88 season, along with Michael Muñoz and Brandon Thomas, to get pushed around in a laundry cart by Boomer Esiason.
There was enough ecstasy and angst in all of that to fuel a career in sports journalism. Now sports editor of the suburban Atlanta newspaper The Beacon, John Breech still remains an expert on his father.
“I’m the go-to guy in our family when it comes to my dad’s career; like Rain Man,” John Breech says. “Four seconds after that came on the screen I was on SuperBowl.com looking at the field goals and for the first time in my life I was looking at the yardage.”
Jim Breech didn’t know what was more stunning. That he was the only guy before Feb. 7, 2010 to kick a pair of 40s in the Super Bowl. Or that John Breech didn’t know it.
“John has always been researching my career and he’ll find stuff and tell me things that I didn’t know,” Jim Breech says. “And you know me; I love all kinds of stats. I’m a stat geek. But neither of us knew that one.”
Did you know this?
“Dad has the all-time record for most overtime field goals with nine with Steve Christie and Jason Elam, but he’s the only who is a perfect nine-for-nine,” John Breech says. “The Bears were the only team he did it to twice and his first one and last one came against them.”
Here’s another one for you.
Including the OTs, Jim Breech had just one miss in the last two minutes when it was three points or less either way, a wayward 51-yarder in a 27-24 loss to the Redskins in 1985.
John Breech is enjoying his career. He loves the versatility the paper offers him because they let him spice it up as a food critic and political reporter to go along with his duties in sports. He’s getting ready for the avalanche that comes with the Georgia high school basketball tournament, but found time to get in touch with the high school coach of Super Bowl hero Chris Reis of the Saints, a Roswell, Ga., product.
“The Falcons told me I could do an interview with Elam when he got that 10th overtime kick,” John Breech says. “But they cut him late last season.”
John Breech remembers how treacherous and sandy that field in Miami was for Super Bowl XXII and recalls that San Francisco kicker Mike Cofer was far from perfect. He missed two field goals; one from an unbelievable 19 yards that John says was like Ray Finkle blowing the winning Super Bowl field goal in the movie Ace Ventura.
Jim Breech’s first field goal that day came from 34 yards and matched Cofer’s 41-yarder to tie it at three with just 75 seconds left in the first half. His 43-yarder with 5:39 left in the third quarter gave the Bengals a 6-3 lead and his 40-yarder (is it not the biggest field goal in Bengaldom?) gave them that 16-13 lead with 3:20 left.
Esiason was going to Disney World, but the media had voted James Thomas Breech the MVP.
Until Montana turned around the election quicker than you could say, “It's Alaska. It's just right over the border."
“I was thinking there was too much time left,” Jim Breech says. “As I was coming off, Cris (Collinsworth) told me the same thing. That was just too much time for Joe Montana. But our defense had played great and I’m sure if you would have told them they had a 16-13 lead with three minutes left and Montana would have to go 92 yards, they would have said, ‘Let’s go.’ ”
Instead, Montana looked off Rice and found John Taylor for his only catch of the day.
“There were three names you couldn’t say around my house growing up,” John Breech says. “Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and John Taylor.”
What might have been? What if the Bengals came all the way back in Super Bowl XVI and Breech kicked the winner at the end and Bengals cornerback Lewis Billups held on to Montana’s pass in Super Bowl XXIII and the kick with 3:20 held up? Would Breech be the Adam Vinatieri of his generation?
“My dad does have a better postseason percentage than Vinatieri,” John Breech says.
Jim Breech, now an insurance agent, says he doesn’t wonder how those premiums would have changed his life.
“I just always think about how great it was,” Jim Breech says. “It took the greatest quarterback and the greatest wide receiver to beat us.”
The stream of texts and phone calls he got in the wake of the CBS graphic was gratifying. They’re still coming. A lot of people remember.
Remember with two out in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series when the Shea Stadium scoreboard prematurely flashed, “Congratulations Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Champions," with Bruce Hurst selected as the World Series Most Valuable Player?
“I guess I’m the Bruce Hurst of the NFL,” Breech says with a laugh.
Cincinnati school kids like John Breech would say Bruce Hurst is the Jim Breech of Major League Baseball.
“It’s all about when you make them,” says John Breech, who now has another stat.