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Sports Then and Now

49ers and Giants Have Storied Playoff History

Posted on January 20, 2012 by Dean Hybl

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have played some memorable playoff games over the last 30 years.

When the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants meet for the NFC Championship on Sunday it will mark the eighth time the two squads have met in the playoffs and second time with the Super Bowl on the line.

Given that these two squads have a combined total of eight Lombardi Trophies, it is hard to believe that when they first met in the playoffs thirty years ago, neither team had ever made a Super Bowl appearance.

In the first playoff game of the Joe Montana and Bill Walsh era, the 49ers jumped out to a 24-10 halftime lead and went on to register a 38-24 victory. They would go on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.

That game proved to be the first of five playoff meetings over the next decade.

The 49ers claimed the second matchup three years later with a 21-10 victory on their way to their second Super Bowl title.

However, the tide would soon turn as the Giants won 17-3 in 1985 and then in 1986 completely demolished the 49ers 44-3 on their way to their first Super Bowl title.

The two teams would not meet again in the playoffs until the 1990 season and for the first time they were playing in the NFC title game.

San Francisco was shooting for a third straight Super Bowl title, but in what would prove to be his final playoff start as a member of the 49ers, Joe Montana suffered a huge hit from defensive end Leonard Marshall that knocked him out of the game for nearly two years.

The 49ers led the game 13-6 in the second half, but three Matt Bahr field goals, including the game winner following a Roger Craig fumble, allowed the Giants to steal a 15-13 victory and end the dreams of a third straight Super Bowl for the 49ers.

New York went on to defeat the Buffalo Bills 20-19 to win their second Super Bowl under head coach Bill Parcells.

With Parcells and Montana both gone, the two teams met again in the playoffs following the 1993 season. This time it was the 49ers destroying the Giants, ironically by the same 44-3 score the Giants had won by back in 1986.

The two squads would not meet in the playoffs again until a Wild Card weekend game in January 2003.

For most of the contest it looked like the Giants would easily move into the second round of the playoffs. Quarterback Kerry Collins threw four touchdown passes as the Giants built a 38-14 lead late in the third quarter.

However, under the direction of quarterback Jeff Garcia, the 49ers stormed back. A touchdown pass to Terrell Owens and a two-point conversion made the score 38-22 entering the fourth quarter.

The 49ers were not called for pass interference on this play during the 2002 NFC Wild Card Game and held on for a 39-38 victory.

Then Garcia ran for another score and passed to Owens for the two-point conversion to cut the margin to eight points. A field goal by Jeff Chandler cut the lead to five and then Garcia hit Tia Streets for a touchdown to make the score 39-38 in favor of the 49ers.

However, it looked like the Giants would still prevail as they lined up for the game-winning field goal. But the snap was bobbled by holder Matt Allen and his pass attempt was incomplete to secure the victory. Replays showed that the 49ers had tackled New York offensive lineman Rich Seubert while he was trying to catch the pass, but no interference penalty was called.

So, in the seven previous playoff meetings, the 49ers hold a slim 4-3 advantage. Both the Giants and 49ers have gone on to the Super Bowl twice after facing the other squad in the playoffs and the two squads were a perfect 4-0 in those Super Bowls.

It promises to be another interesting battle when the teams meet Sunday with another Super Bowl trip on the line. Will the game be a blowout or will it be another playoff thriller?

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