The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants both overcame underdog status this past weekend to claim their spots in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The game will be a rematch of their exciting Week 10 contest in which the 49ers held on late to win, 27-20.
However, the postseason history between these two franchises is quite incredible. The two franchises have a combined eight Super Bowl victories between them and this contest will be their eighth postseason matchup, which equals the most matchups in NFL playoff history between any two teams.
While the 49ers and Cowboys get a lot of play as rivals, the 49ers and Giants have quietly established themselves as one of the better postseason rivalries. The 49ers hold the slight postseason edge with a 4-3 overall record and a 4-1 record in San Francisco.
The matchup has featured some ugly blowouts with the 49ers dominating the Giants 44-3 in the 1994 divisional round and the Giants blowing out the 49ers 49-3 in the 1987 divisional round. However, this matchup has also given us two of the most exciting playoff games of the last 25 years.
The 1991 NFC Championship Game and a 2003 Wild Card Game featured wild finishes that are rarely seen.
This game is the most heart-breaking loss in 49ers history and one of the most exciting wins in Giants history for several reasons. 49ers running back Roger Craig had a critical fumble late in the game that led to Matt Bahr kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired. The Giants rode the momentum of this thriller to another win in Super Bowl XXV following the epic Scott Norwood miss.
As brutal as the loss was for 49ers fans in the immediacy, the bigger blow saw Joe Montana take a brutal blind-side hit from Leonard Marshall. The hit knocked Montana from the game and effectively ended his time with the 49ers. Montana would appear in one more game before moving on to Kansas City.
In 2003, the 49ers and Giants met up at Candlestick Park in a game that would prove to be one of the most exciting second halves of football in NFL history.
The 49ers had sort of slept-walk into the playoffs while the Giants had won four straight to claim a wild card berth. The Giants kept up their momentum as they rolled to a 28-14 halftime lead and built on that with ten points to take a 38-14 lead with under five minutes left in the third quarter.
That was when the turnaround began. The 49ers moved into their two minute offense and proceeded to put together the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history. The 49ers quickly scored a touchdown on a 26-yard Jeff Garcia Garcia pass to Terrell Owens followed by a two-point conversion.
The 49ers quickly forced a stop and added another touchdown and two-point conversion at the start of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 38-30. The 49ers added a field goal with eight minutes left and then took the 39-38 lead on a Tai Streets touchdown reception with one minute left. The Giants had one last chance as they drive into field goal range, but a botched snap cost them a chance as a potential pass interference call was not made and the 49ers escaped with a wild victory.
The 49ers and Giants will now meet up in their eighth playoff contest. Given the history we could have a blowout or a wild finish. Whatever the case, two of the most established franchises in NFL history will square off on Sunday for the right to go to Super Bowl XLVI and a historic postseason rivalry is renewed.