Well I wanted an exciting NFC Championship Game and I certainly got one! So many twists and turns. You have to feel bad for Lions fans but it’s hard to argue that the better team didn’t win.
The Lions are good enough to be here again but this is really San Francisco’s time. This should be an all-time Super Bowl between the 49ers and the Chiefs, even if the sentimental favorites may not have made it this far. They are sentimental favorites for a reason!
This will be the end of our liveblogging for today. Stay tuned for the Guardian’s NFL coverage for the next two weeks and then I will see you all again one last time for the final NFL game of the season. I so hope that you join us.
Until then feel free to relive today’s wild battle between the Lions and 49ers in the Guardian’s game report, helpfully linked below!
I assumed this but good to know!
And we have the NFC Championship trophy ceremony here.
Chiefs head coach Kyle Shanahan mentions that the team capitalizing on the Lions’ turnovers was the key to their win. He’s 100% right.
Email from Christian Svanes Kolding:
having not watched US football all season, i tune in a little while ago and much to my surprise see Giovanni Ribisi as detroit’s quarterback - that is Jared Goff.
He can play it in the movie version of this NFL game. It will be a horror movie.
Email from Riccarda Jarvis:
The coach who made the decisions to go on 4th down twice…versus getting the field goals cost them this game.
I cannot argue with this. In the midst of this, one of the FOX commentators said that you can’t blame Dan Campbell’s decision-making just because it didn’t work out as that’s how he’s been winning games all season-long.
As someone who is on-board with the idea that coaches don’t go for in on fourth-down enough, this is just flat out wrong. There are many occasions when it is simply a bad decision going in, regardless of outcome. The first fourth-down decision was dicey but defensible. There was no defending the second. If it had worked out, it would have been the Lions dodging a bullet not a sign that it was the right one.
In any case, the Lions lost by a field goal on a game where they decided against kicking two makeable ones. That’s the main story here and, despite all of the other mistakes made by his players, that’s probably extremely fair!
We’ve talked about the Detroit Lions collapse but there’s no denying that the San Francisco 49ers took advantage of every single opportunity they had in the second half to put together a comeback for the ages. They truly deserve to head to the Super Bowl where they will face Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Elijah Mitchell runs a bit. The Lions use their timeouts, trying to extend the time they have but they are only barely putting off the inevitable. There’s just a one second differential.
The 49ers have beaten the Lions 34-31 in a game that will be remembered in Detroit for a very long time for all the wrong reasons.
The 49ers take a timeout here. The Lions are 0-for-3 on onside kicks, which pretty much never work. Can they pull off something ridiculous here?
Nope, George Kittle recovers and the San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl.
Except that the refs throw a flag on Detroit, which won’t matter but will extend the game slightly.
Can the Lions recover the onside kick here? Or will they lose by a (sigh) a field goal?
It’s 4th and goal and if the Lions don’t get into the end zone here, it’s all over.
Goff finds Williams for a touchdown! Will it be too little, too late, however?
Lions 24-34 49ers, 1:00, 4th quarter
Goff finds Reynolds for a 25 yard gain. 1st and 10. Goff finds LaPorta for an eight yard gain. 2nd and 2. Goff finds St Brown for a seven-yard gain. 1st and goal at the SF 9. Goff finds Anthony Firkser for an eight-yard gain.
2nd and goal. Goff throws incomplete.
3rd and goal. Montgomery gets pushed back for a two-yard loss. The Lions take a timeout with a single minute remaining.
The first time, I was like fine. That was a chance to breakopen the game and put the 49ers in a deep hole.
I do not understand doing it when you’re down by a field goal late and have not scored a single point in the second half!
Lions 24-34 49ers, 2:00, 4th quarter
Closing time for the Lions. They start on their own 25. Goff throws incomplete. 2nd & 10. Goff finds Gibbs for a four-yard gain. 3rd and 6. Goff finds LaPorta for a nine-yard gain. That’s a first down.
Goff goes to LaPorta for a 13-yard gain that will take them to the San Francisco 49. That’s good for them. It’s the two-minute warning. That’s bad for them.
Dan Campbell is a key reason for the Lions’ turnaround but he is absolutely culprit number one for this meltdown although, man, there is a lot of blame to go around for this historic second-half collapse.
McCaffrey runs for 25 yards! The 49ers are knocking on the Lions’ front door and they’re going to let them right in. Elijah Mitchell runs into the end zone for a touchdown. Moody makes it a 10-point game with an extra point.
That is 27 unanswered points by San Francisco.
Lions 24-27 49ers, 4:42, 4th quarter
2nd & 8. Purdy finds McCaffrey for a four-yard gain. 3rd and 4, the Lions defense has to make a stop here, period.
Instead they let Purdy escape and he scrambles for a 21 yard gain to the Detroit 28. This is done.
Lions 24-27 49ers, 6:11, 4th quarter
This is over. Calling it here. You can’t do that twice. The Sports Gods will punish you every time. Purdy takes over at the San Francisco 30. He runs up the middle for a seven-yard gain. On 2nd and 3, Purdy finds Samuel for an eight-yard gain and a first down.
1st and 10, McCaffrey picks up two yards.
On 2nd & 10, Goff throws incomplete to Gibbs. On the next play, Goff throws to St Brown for a seven-yard gain to get them to the SF 30. This is makeable field goal distance.
But they don’t put in the field goal unit. Is Dan Campbell gambling again? Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.
Goff throws incomplete to St Brown. Turnover on downs. Oh god this is a horror show.
Email from Rowan Sweeney:
Subject: Lions gonna lions
G’day from sunny Australia, Hunter.
I checked the score when it was 24-7, right before Moody kicked that field goal, and what immediately sprang to mind was a slow motion replay of the Dan Orlovsky safety in 2008. Lions gonna Lions, it seems.
I won’t lie, this is one of those games where if the 49ers win, their fans are going to be like, “still I feel bad for the Lions.”
Lions 24-27 49ers, 8:28, 4th quarter
Goff attempts to find Williams in the end zone for a touchdown but he can’t get to it. On the play, San Francisco’s Ambry Thomas was injured so we’re in another timeout.
Lions 24-27 49ers, 9:15, 4th quarter
Safe to say that the Lions have to score on this possession. They start at their own 25 after a touchback. Goff throws one deep and Williams holds on for a 22-yard catch! That’s the first thing that has gone right for Detroit in this half.
The Lions are at their own 47. Montgomery gets the ball next and rushes for 16 yards to make it to the San Francisco 37. Another first down.
Purdy takes it himself on the next play and scrambles for 10 yards to the Detroit 13. It’s 1st and 10. On the next possession he holds on just a little too long and gets taken for a seven-yard loss. 2nd and 17, Purdy gets sacked again! The second sack of the game for Detroit.
It’s now 3rd and 19 at the Detroit 22. Purdy finds Samuel, he can only get seven yards. The 49ers will settle for a field goal here. Moody’s 33-yarder is good and there you have it, the 49ers have a lead after going on a 20-0 run.
Lions 24-24 49ers, 12:57, 4th quarter
On 1st and 10, McCaffrey picks up four yards and the 49ers take their first timeout.
Lions 24-24 49ers, 14:19, 4th quarter
On first down, Purdy throws to Samuel who can pick up a yard. The Lions desperately need a stop here and preferably a turnover!
They won’t get it here, Purdy throws a deep ball to Kittle who takes it and runs to the Detroit 27 for a 28 yard gain!
Lions 24-24 49ers, end of the 3rd quarter
Purdy at his own 30, he makes a throw to Juszczyk for a 10-yard gain while under pressure. On 1st and 10, he hands it to McCaffrey. McCaffrey picks up 8-yards. On the next play, McCaffrey picks up six for another first down. That’s the end of the third quarter. They’ll start the 4th on their own 44.
I’m going to cheat and quote my own tweet here because it bears repeating.
Lions 24-24 49ers, 2:01, 3rd quarter
Another touchback. On their own 25, Montgomery only manages a single yard. 2nd and 9, Goff throws to LaPorta. Nothing doing. 3rd and 9. Goff’s next throw is a surefire first down throw to Reynolds.
And Reynolds drops it! Oh my lord, everything has gone wrong. Fox punts the ball and it bounces at the two, where it should pin the 49ers back. However it bounces back into the end zone for a touchback. The sports gods do not want the Lions to win this game and they are pulling out all the stops.
Going into this game I felt that no matter how this game went, the Lions should feel good about themselves for getting this far.
If they end up losing this game, and it’s really hard to see how a team can mentally recover from this, it might just be the one possible scenario where they won’t be able to feel good about themselves.
On the next play, Samuel picks up three yards and gets the ball to the Detroit 1.
We know where this is going. McCaffrey walks into the end zone! The extra point is good and we have a tied game as the Lions have scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter and there’s still three minutes remaining.
Lions 24-17 49ers, 4:29, 3rd quarter
The 49ers take over on the Detroit 25. Purdy throws to George Kittle, oh right he exists, who gets pushed back a yard. It’s 2nd and 11 and Purdy … breaks free and rushes to the Detroit 4. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for the Lions since that fourth down decision!
Moody’s kick hits the end zone for a touchback. It definitely feels like they are not going to hold San Francisco to 17 points, so they’re going to need to get something here to regain momentum. The crowd is now massively loud.
And, oof, Gibbs immediately fumbles! San Francisco recovers! Calamity!
It’s a vibe-shift in San Francisco, so of course the FOX bumper music person gives us a taste of the Dead heading into the break. It’s Bob Weir’s own “Throwing Stones” and it’s very much appreciated by this second-generation hippie.
1st and goal. McCaffrey gets pushed back for a two-yard loss. 2nd and goal at the Detroit 6, Purdy can’t find Aiyuk. 3rd and goal. Purdy finds Aiyuk this time! The 49ers take advantage of Campbell’s gambling and score a touchdown on the other end. Moody’s extra point is good.
Now is the time for the Lions to be worried.
Lions 24-10 49ers, 6:29, 3rd quarter
Purdy throws a huge bomb and bounces and almost gets intercepted but Aiyuk finally makes a play by catching it on the deflection. A flag flies but it was a mistake. “There is no foul on the play.” The 49ers are on the Detroit 4 with a fresh set of downs.
Lions 24-10 49ers, 6:39, 3rd quarter
If the 49ers manage to pull off a comeback here, Campbell’s decision to go for it right there will definitely be seen as the turning point. It was an understandable move, that could have been the game right there, but sometimes those moves don’t payoff.
On the next play, Purdy passes to Samuel who picks up 17 yards to the San Francisco 45.
Lions 24-10 49ers, 6:58, 3rd quarter
Goff finds LaPorta for a six-yard gain. 3rd & 7, St Brown gets two yards. Head coach Dan Campbell goes for it on 4th on 2, Goff almost finds Reynolds but he just can’t hold on. That could have been the game but instead San Francisco has new life. They will start at their 28.
Lions 24-10 49ers, 8:29, 3rd quarter
It’s 1st & 10 at the San Francisco 48. Montgomery picks up seven yards for a first down. On the next down, he gets five for another first down. On the next play, Goff lets it fly, but it’s incomplete to LaPorta.
Lions 24-10 49ers, 9:53, 3rd quarter
Can the 49ers keep the Lions off the board on their first possession here? That might be the key to see whether or not this will be a game. Goff finds LaPorta for a 16-yard completion right away. That’s not a good star. Montgomery picks up six yards to the Detroit 47. On the next play there is no play, because there’s a neutral zone infraction on the defense that equals a five-yard penalty.
Samuel takes a three yard loss on the next possession. 3rd and 4. However, Purdy finds Jauan Jennings who makes a one-handed catch for a first down at the Detroit 27. McCaffrey picks up two yards. 2nd & 8, Purdy nearly throws another pick, but it’s just incomplete. Big 3rd and 8 here. Purdy throws and it’s incomplete.
The 49ers have to settle for a field goal here. Moody makes this one, a 43-yarder. Not the ideal scenario for San Francisco, but they at least answer Detroit’s field goal and they have a lot of time left on the clock. Can the defense get stops however?
Lions 24-7 49ers, 13:57, 3rd quarter
McCaffrey picks up eight yards. That’s a start. 2nd & 2. Purdy finds Samuel for a nine yard gain. That’s another first down. Good start for the 49ers.
Lions 24-7 49ers, 15:00, 3rd quarter
Ray-Ray McCloud looks at Fox’s kick which falls in the end zone. Touchback again!
This is Detroit, for the record. A pretty cool scene!
Again, the game is in San Francisco.
The good news for the 49ers is that they wisely deferred to start the game and while they were unable to stop the Lions from scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, it does mean they will get the ball back to start the second half.
24-14 is a very different score than 24-7, especially psychologically and it looks like a lot of the 49ers issues right now involve their confidence.
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Analysis of the NFC Championship Game
The NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions was a thrilling and dramatic contest with numerous key events. The game witnessed a remarkable comeback by the 49ers, who were the first team to trail by 17+ points at halftime and win a Conference Championship Game []. The game was marked by several pivotal moments, including turnovers, failed onside kicks, and crucial coaching decisions.
The game started with the Lions taking a commanding lead, but the 49ers staged an incredible comeback in the second half, scoring 27 unanswered points. The Lions' decision-making, particularly regarding fourth-down attempts and field goal choices, came under scrutiny and was considered a significant factor in their eventual loss [].
The game ended with the San Francisco 49ers emerging as the NFC Champions, winning the game 34-31. The victory was attributed to the 49ers' ability to capitalize on the Lions' turnovers, as mentioned by Chiefs head coach Kyle Shanahan [].
The NFC Championship Game was a rollercoaster of emotions, with the Lions experiencing a historic collapse in the second half, while the 49ers demonstrated resilience and determination to secure their place in the Super Bowl.
The game was filled with intense moments, controversial decisions, and remarkable individual performances, making it a memorable and significant event in the NFL.
If you have any specific questions or would like to delve deeper into any aspect of the game, feel free to ask!