49ers vs. Panthers, 2014 Divisional round playoffs: Defense once again ruling the day

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

After being held without a touchdown against the Panthers in Week 10, the Niners finally found the endzone just before halftime.

The San Francisco 49ers have had a hard time finding the end zone against the Carolina Panthers this season, but they finally broke through at the end of the second half during Sunday's second-round playoff game.

Vernon Davis's one-yard touchdown grab with just five seconds remaining in the half was the Niners' first touchdown against the Panthers in six quarters of play this season and gave them a 13-10 lead heading into intermission. They were limited to just three field goals in a 10-9 loss in Week 10.

It was looking as though that trend would continue during the early going on Sunday. Both of the 49ers' first two drives stalled in Panthers' territory and they were forced to kick a pair of field goals, building a 6-0 lead. Colin Kaepernick's incomplete pass on third-and-goal just before halftime looked as though it would lead to a third kick attempt, but a pass interference gave the 49ers new life and Davis converted for the go-ahead score.

The Panthers have had their own red zone struggles Sunday. They were set up with a first-and-goal from the San Francisco six-yard-line late in the first quarter, but three consecutive rushing plays stalled them on the one-yard line. Head coach Ron Rivera lived up to his "Riverboat Ron" moniker by going for it on fourth down, but Cam Newton's quarterback sneak was held back by a defensive surge and the ball was turned over on downs.

Newton made up for it on the ensuing possession, hitting Steve Smith with a 31-yard dime to put the Panthers in front, 7-6.

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