What’s the Greatest NFC Championship Game Ever? We Give You 5 To Choose From
The Philadelphia Eagles host the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. It’s a battle between the conference’s top two seeds for the right to head to the Super Bowl. The Eagles enter as a 2.5-point favorite and face a red-hot rookie quarterback in Brock Purdy, who hasn’t lost in his seven NFL starts. As we expect a down-to-the-wire contest, we’ll take a look at five of the greatest NFC Championship Games ever played, in no particular order.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings, Jan. 17, 1999
In a battle of the conference’s top two seeds, the high-powered Vikings hosted the Falcons in the NFC title game on Jan. 17, 1999. Led by quarterback Randall Cunningham and rookie wide receiver Randy Moss, the Vikings went 15-1, winning their first seven games of the season. Their lone loss came in Week 9 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they fell 27-24.
The Vikings put up 556 points during the regular season, 77 more than their closest NFC competitor, the 49ers. The Falcons were led by running back Jamal Anderson, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,846 yards and had an NFL-best 18 touchdowns.
The Vikings held a 20-14 lead at halftime and extended the lead to 27-17 early in the fourth quarter. Minnesota looked to make it a two-possession game when kicker Gary Anderson, who was the only kicker to have a perfect regular season in field goals (35-for-35), but his chip-shot, 38-yard field goal was wide left. The Falcons capitalized, marching 72 yards for a game-tying score to force overtime.
Morten Andersen, Atlanta’s veteran kicker, booted a 38-yard field goal to put the Falcons in the Super Bowl with a 30-27 victory.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks, Jan. 18, 2015
This is one the Green Bay Packers would love to have back. Leading 16-0 at the half, the Packers had been in complete control on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay led 19-7 late in the fourth quarter before Russell Wilson’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 19-14 with 2:09 to go. With no timeouts, Seattle’s only option was to recover an onside kick.
They did just that. Backup tight end Brandon Bostick muffed the kick that was recovered by Chris Matthews, giving the Seahawks new life. With 1:25 left, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 24-yard run to help put Seattle in front. Wilson hit Luke Willson on a desperation two-point-conversion pass to give Seattle a 22-19 lead.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers quickly got the Packers in field-goal range as Mason Crosby connected from 48 yards out, sending the game into overtime. Wilson ended Green Bay’s hopes with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse less than four minutes into OT.
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers, Jan. 10, 1982
This one is simply known as “The Catch.” It was a play where there was improvisation at quarterback and at wide receiver, and it all worked out for the 49ers.
With 51 seconds left, the Niners trailed the Dallas Cowboys 27-21, and 49ers quarterback Joe Montana found himself in trouble as he dropped back to pass. As Montana was being chased out of bounds, he bought an extra second with a pump-fake that made Cowboys defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones leave his feet.
Looking for wide receiver Freddie Soloman, Montana saw he was covered and threw the ball to the back of the end zone. That’s when Dwight Clark jumped up and made a finger-tip catch in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Ray Wersching’s extra-point kick gave the 49ers the 28-27 victory.
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins, Jan. 8, 1984
John Riggins had the game’s first two touchdowns, and Washington held 21-0 lead over the 49ers after three quarters, yet Washington kicker Mark Moseley was the story.
Moseley, who was named the NFL’s MVP in the strike-shortened 1982 season, missed four field goals in the game. Montana and the Niners took advantage by scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it a 21-21 game.
Moseley, however, redeemed himself with a game-winning 25-yard field goal to send Washington to the Super Bowl.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, Jan. 20, 2008
The Packers got what they wanted, but it still didn’t help. Green Bay hosted the conference title game against the New York Giants in frigid conditions. Everything fell into place for the hosts. Game-time temperature was minus-3 degrees with a wind-chill of minus-24.
Packers quarterback Brett Favre erased a 6-0 deficit by throwing a 90-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver to give the Packers a 7-6 lead. A Mason Crosby field goal put the Pack up 10-6 at halftime.
After the teams exchanged touchdowns, Ahmad Bradshaw scored on a 4-yard run to give the visitors a 20-17 lead late in the third quarter. A Crosby field goal was the only scoring in the fourth quarter and sent the game to overtime.
In OT, Favre threw the second of his two interceptions on the night, setting up Lawrence Tynes’ 47-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 23-20 win.