NFC Championship 2013: 49ers defense comes up big in 2nd half vs. Falcons

USA TODAY Sports

After a shaky first half, the San Francisco defense pitched a shutout in the second half, paving the way for the 49ers to make the Super Bowl.

Things didn't look good for the San Francisco 49ers in the first half of the NFC Championship Game. The Atlanta Falcons opened up a 17-0 lead early, scored on four of their five first-half drives, and wide receiver Julio Jones looked like he simply couldn't be covered. However, the 49ers' defense stiffened up in the second half, shutting out the Falcons and paving the way for a 28-24 comeback victory.

The Falcons had five offensive drives in the second half, and they went like this: Interception, fumble, punt, turnover on downs, and end of regulation. Compare that to the first half, where Atlanta scored points on four of its five drives, and moved the ball at least 63 yards on each of those scoring drives.

The only sustained drive that Atlanta could muster in the final 30 minutes was a 14-play sequence that ate over seven minutes of game clock. However, that drive ended with the game deciding fourth down, where linebacker NaVorro Bowman broke up a pass intended for Roddy White at the 49ers' 10-yard line with just over a minute remaining.

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