Top 10 NFC Championship games


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Jan 22, 2006
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Top 10 NFC Championship games
Elliot Kalb

The NFC will send its sixth representative to the Super Bowl in six years based on who wins the NFL title game on Sunday.
Since the 1993 season, 10 NFC franchises have won the conference championship and earned their way to the Super Bowl.

That's far removed from an 11-year period beginning with the 1981 season, when only the 49ers, Redskins, Bears and Giants made the Super Bowl. In the 1980s, only once did the road team win the NFC championship game (and that was following the 1988 season, when the 49ers upset the Bears in Chicago).

Here are the 10 most memorable NFC Championship games ever played.

1. December 31, 1967: Green Bay 21, Dallas 17
This is known and the "Ice Bowl" and was officially the NFL Championship game. The Packers had defeated the Cowboys for the NFL crown following the 1966 season and blew out the Kansas City Chiefs in the first-ever Super Bowl. Vince Lombardi's team was actually seeking its third consecutive NFL title.

This game was played in a negative-13 degree wind chill, with devastating icy winds. Packers quarterback Bart Starr threw two first-half touchdown passes to give Green Bay the early 14-0 lead. The Cowboys closed the first half with 10 unanswered points. In the fourth quarter, Cowboys running back Dan Reeves threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Lance Rentzel to put the Cowboys up.

The Packers marched down the field in the final moments, and when Starr following the block of guard Jerry Kramer, he was able to sneak in from the one-yard line with 13 seconds remaining to give the Packers the victory.

2. January 11, 1982: San Francisco 28, Dallas 27
The 49ers were attempting to make the Super Bowl for the first time. Their opponent was Dallas, making its 10th trip to the NFC title game in 16 years, attempting to reach its sixth Super Bowl. The Cowboys were favored on the road, despite being blown out by Bill Walsh's team in the regular season.

Dallas' Doug Cosbie caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put Dallas up 27-21. That was the fifth lead change of the game. San Francisco's last chance came with less than five minutes remaining, when Joe Montana led the Niners on an 89-yard drive that culminated with "The Catch," — a long-remembered six-yard touchdown with 54 seconds left by Dwight Clark. That didn't end the game, however. Danny White had the ball last, and it wasn't until a Dallas fumble near midfield with 30 seconds left that the 49ers could breathe a sigh of relief.

3. January 17, 1999: Atlanta 30, Minnesota 27 (OT)
The 15-1 Vikings set an NFL record for points in a season with 556. There was no way that team — especially the unheralded Atlanta Falcons — could beat them in Minnesota, right?

The Vikings put up 27 points, but it wasn't enough. Chris Chandler threw for 340 yards and three touchdown passes. The Vikings had a 27-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. Chandler connected on a 70-yard pass to Tony Martin. Morten Anderson kicked a field goal. Vikings quarterback Randall Cunningham fumbled. However, Atlanta couldn't capitalize, and Minnesota took possession with a seven-point lead. They moved into possession for Gary Anderson to kick a 38-yard field goal. Gary Anderson had not missed a field goal or extra point the entire season. He missed. The Falcons and head coach Dan Reeves had one final opportunity. They seized it, tying the game on a Chandler touchdown to Terrance Mathis.

In overtime, the Vikings won the toss. Minnesota got the ball twice in overtime. It was Morten, not Gary Anderson, who kicked the winning field goal. Reeves would face his old team (the Broncos), and his former quarterback (John Elway) in the Super Bowl.

4. January 20, 1991: NY Giants 15, San Francisco 13
The Giants and defensive-minded coach Bill Parcells faced the offensive-minded 49ers. Parcells had Lawrence Taylor, arguably the greatest defensive player of all time. San Francisco had Joe Montana, possibly the greatest quarterback of all time.

The Giants' Leonard Marshall knocked Montana from the game in the fourth quarter. No problem for the Niners, who inserted another Hall of Fame quarterback, Steve Young.

New York was playing the entire postseason without starting quarterback Phil Simms. When Jeff Hostetler was knocked out of the NFC Championship game briefly with a knee injury, the chances of the Giants winning the Super Bowl seemed remote.

But in the final minutes, Erik Howard forced a San Francisco fumble — which Taylor recovered. Hostetler came back and moved the Giants into field goal position. Matt Bahr kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to kick the 49ers out of the Super Bowl.

5. January 8, 1984: Washington 24 , San Francisco 21
This game pitted the two winningest coaches of the 1980s in Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs. The Redskins were 10 1/2 point favorites after a 14-2 season and a 51-7 victory over the Rams in the Divisional round of the playoffs. John Riggins, on his way to a then-record, sixth straight postseason game of 100-plus yards (since broken by Terrell Davis), ran for a pair of touchdowns. Joe Theismann hit Charley Brown for a 70-yard touchdown to make the score 21-0 late in the third quarter. It almost didn't matter that Redskins kicker Mark Moseley had missed four field goals already.

Joe Montana began his comeback with consecutive completions to track-star Renaldo Nehemiah. He threw a pair of touchdowns to Mike Wilson, who hadn't caught a single touchdown all season and was filling in for the injured Dwight Clark. Montana threw three touchdown passes in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 21-21.

When Washington got the kickoff at their own 14-yard line, the momentum was clearly on the 49ers' side. The Redskins had the perfect remedy. Riggins ran for 17-yards on the first play. Washington marched down the field and set up a field goal attempt for Moseley in the final seconds. After four misses, Moseley hit the game-winner, and the Redskins advanced to the Super Bowl.

6. January 1, 1967: Green Bay 34, Dallas 27
The Packers were trying to win their fourth NFL championship in six years and led Dallas by a touchdown in the final minutes. The game came down to Green Bay safety Tom Brown. Brown's pass interference penalty in the end zone with 1:58 remaining in the contest gave the Cowboys a great chance at tying the game and sending it into overtime. Dallas quarterback Don Meredith would throw an interception on fourth down with 28 seconds left. Brown made the interception and was able to redeem himself for his prior error. Bart Starr threw four touchdown passes for the Packers, who ended up routing the Chiefs in the first-ever Super Bowl two weeks later.

7. January 17, 1993 Dallas 30, San Francisco 20
The Cowboys came within a Dwight Clark catch of reaching their record sixth Super Bowl in San Francisco in 1982. When they met the 49ers in San Francisco for the NFC Championship in Jan. 1993, they still were looking for their sixth Super Bowl appearance.

These were Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys, and he had turned a 1-15 team into a 13-3 machine in just three short years.

San Francisco committed two turnovers in the first half, which led to Cowboys scores. The game was tied at halftime, 10-10. Darryl Johnston scored on a rush, and Emmitt Smith scored on a pass reception, making the score 24-13 in the fourth quarter. Steve Young led a long scoring drive with a pass to Jerry Rice in the end zone, making the score 24-20 with less than five minutes remaining. Troy Aikman would add a touchdown pass. This was the game in which the Dallas "triplets" entered their prime.

8. January 23, 2005: Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 10
The game was in Philadelphia, but all of the pressure was on the Philadelphia Eagles. They had dropped three consecutive NFC Championship games, and two of those were in Philly. At halftime, the Eagles led 14-10. Brian Dawkins had a huge interception in the third quarter for Philly. Remember, Terrell Owens was still injured and did not play in this game (although he would play two weeks later in the Super Bowl). Greg Lewis had a huge catch. Chad Lewis caught a couple of touchdowns. Brian Westbrook caught five passes. Donovan McNabb outplayed Michael Vick, and the Eagles — on their fourth try of the decade — won the NFC Championship game.

9. January 23, 2000: St. Louis 11, Tampa Bay 6
The Rams were called the "Greatest Show on Turf," averaging more than 36 points per game at home during the 1999 regular season. However, in the NFC Championship game, Tony Dungy's Buccaneers had a late 6-5 lead. Kurt Warner was picked off three times by the Bucs, and it wasn't until Warner found Ricky Proehl from 30-yards out with 4:44 remaining that the Rams led.

10. January 6, 1980: L.A. Rams 9, Tampa Bay 0
The Los Angeles Rams lost the NFC Championship game following the 1974 season and following the 1975 season and following the 1976 season and following the 1978 season. Following the 1979 season, they faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who dropped their first 26 games in franchise history.

Two years later, the Bucs held the Rams without a touchdown in the NFC Championship game. Of course, the Rams won the game because their defense was even better. There were zero touchdowns in this game.
My favorite NFC Championship Game has to be the Giants and Niners game in 1991. Everyone thought the Niners were going to kick the Giants butt and that the Giants shouldn't have showed up. Hostetler played a great game and Giants D was fantastic against Montana. Matt Bahr simply was huge in kicking that GW FG. I used to live in NYC and I was 11 at the time. After the Giants won the game, there was pandomenium in the streets of Washington Heights (a section in New York City). That was awesome.

Let's not go there with the Falcons/Vikings in the NFC Championship Game in 1998. I don't think the Vikings were ever the same since that disaster.
9. January 23, 2000: St. Louis 11, Tampa Bay 6
The Rams were called the "Greatest Show on Turf," averaging more than 36 points per game at home during the 1999 regular season. However, in the NFC Championship game, Tony Dungy's Buccaneers had a late 6-5 lead. Kurt Warner was picked off three times by the Bucs, and it wasn't until Warner found Ricky Proehl from 30-yards out with 4:44 remaining that the Rams led.

My brother is a Rams fan....imagine the cussing during this one!! :p
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