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NFC Championship Game: What to Look For

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Note: This was not written by me. It is an official NFL release. 

  

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

 

TOP-TWO SQUARE OFF:  For the fifth time since the 2000 season, the top-two seeds will square off in the NFC Championship Game (Sunday, 6:40 PM ET, FOX).  The New Orleans Saints aim to reach their first Super Bowl in franchise history, and the Minnesota Vikings seek their fifth Super Bowl berth.

 

SEASON

ONE SEED

TWO SEED

RESULT

2000

N.Y. Giants

Minnesota

N.Y. Giants 41, Minnesota 0

2002

Philadelphia

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay 27, Philadelphia 10

2004

Philadelphia

Atlanta

Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 10

2006

Chicago

New Orleans

Chicago 39, New Orleans 14

2009

New Orleans

Minnesota

???


  

 

SCORING BONANZA:  The NFC Championship Game will match the two highest scoring teams in the NFL in 2009.  The Saints, who recorded the ninth-highest single-season points total in NFL history with 510, will face the Vikings, who averaged 29.4 points per game (470 total) this year.  The meeting will be just the fifth Conference Championship Gamefeaturing the top two scoring teams in the league.  All such matchups have taken place in the NFC Championship Game.

 

Conference Championship Games featuring the top two scoring teams in the league:

 

SEASON

HOME (RANK)

VISITOR (RANK)

RESULT

1989

San Francisco (1)

LA Rams (2)

San Francisco 30, LA Rams 3

1992

San Francisco (1)

Dallas (2)

Dallas 30, San Francisco 20

1993

Dallas (2)

San Francisco (1)

Dallas 38, San Francisco 21

1994

San Francisco (1)

Dallas (2)

San Francisco 38, Dallas 28

2009

New Orleans (1)

Minnesota (2)

???

 

The Saints and Vikings showed off their high-powered offenses in the Divisional Playoffs, posting 45 (New Orleans) and 34 (Minnesota) points.  The two tie for the second-highest combined points scored in the Divisional Playoffs by Conference Championship opponents.

 

SEASON

HOME

POINTS

VISITOR

POINTS

TOTAL

1999

Jacksonville

62

Tennessee

19

81

1994

San Francisco

44

Dallas

35

79

2009

New Orleans

45

Minnesota

34

79

2001

St. Louis

45

Philadelphia

33

78

1981

San Francisco

38

Dallas

38

76

1986

N.Y. Giants

49

Washington

27

76

 

  

 

FAVRE AND AWAY:  Minnesota quarterback BRETT FAVRE will be 40 years and 106 days old on Sunday when he faces the New Orleans Saints.  If he starts that game as expected, he will become the oldest quarterback ever to start a Conference Championship Game.  Favre’s four touchdown passes last week against Dallas are twice as many as all other 40-year old quarterbacks have thrown in NFL postseason history combined. 

 

The oldest quarterbacks to start a Conference Championship Game:

 

PLAYER

SEASON, TEAM

YEARS

DAYS

RESULT

Johnny Unitas

1971 Baltimore

38

240

L 21-0 vs. Miami

Earl Morrall

1972 Miami

38

228

W 21-17 vs. Pittsburgh

John Elway

1998 Denver

38

203

W 23-10 vs. NY Jets

Brett Favre

2007 Green Bay

38

102

L 23-20 (OT) vs. NY Giants

Johnny Unitas

1970 Baltimore

37

241

W 27-17 vs. Oakland

 

 

 

 

 

Brett Favre*

2009 Minnesota

40

106

???

* Favre will be 40 years and 106 days old on Sunday

 

Favre ranks second in NFL playoff history in completions, passing yards and touchdown passes.  He needs eight completions, 228 passing yards and three touchdowns on Sunday to set postseason records in each passing category.  He is already the all-time postseason leader in attempts with 745.

 

The top two quarterbacks in playoff completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes:

 

PLAYER

COMPLETIONS

 

PLAYER

ATTEMPTS

Joe Montana

460

 

Brett Favre*

745

Brett Favre*

453

 

Joe Montana

734

                                                                                          *Active

 

PLAYER

PASS YARDS

 

PLAYER

TD PASSES

Joe Montana

5,772

 

Joe Montana

45

Brett Favre*

5,545

 

Brett Favre*

43

                                                                                          *Active

 

  

 

BEEN HERE BEFORE:  When he takes the field on Sunday, Favre will tie Philadelphia Eagles quarterback DONOVAN MC NABB for third-most starts by a quarterback in the NFC Championship Game.  Pro Football Hall of Famers JOE MONTANA and ROGER STAUBACH have each started an NFL-record six NFC Championship Games.

 

The quarterbacks with the most NFC Championship Game starts:

 

PLAYER

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME STARTS

RECORD

Joe Montana

6

4-2

Roger Staubach

6

4-2

Donovan McNabb

5

1-4

Troy Aikman

4

3-1

Brett Favre*

4

2-2

Steve Young

4

1-3

* Favre will start his fifth NFC Championship Game on Sunday

 

 

  

 

TRIPLE CROWN QUARTERBACKS:  New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Vikings’ Favre both passed for 4,000+ yards, 30+ touchdowns and had a passer rating of 100+ this season.  When they face off on Sunday, it will be the first matchup of quarterbacks with such passing totals in Conference Championship Game history. 

 

There has been only one previous Conference Championship Game matchup in which both starting quarterbacks passed for even 4,000+ yards during the regular season.

 

Conference Championship Game matchups of quarterbacks with 4,000+ passing yards in the regular season:

 

GAME

HOME QB (YARDS)

VISITING QB (YARDS)

RESULT

1996 AFC Championship Game

(New England vs. Jacksonville)

Drew Bledsoe (4,086)

Mark Brunell (4,367)

New England 20, Jacksonville 6

2009 NFC Championship Game

(New Orleans vs. Minnesota)

Drew Brees (4,388)

Brett Favre (4,202)

???

 

  

 

PUNT RETURN PROWESS:  New Orleans running back/punt returner REGGIE BUSH recorded an 83-yard punt-return touchdown in the Saints’ Divisional Playoff win over Arizona, becoming just the 20th player with a punt-return touchdown in playoff history.  With a punt-return touchdown against Minnesota, Bush will become the first player in postseason history with two punt-return touchdowns and just the fourth player with two combined kick-and punt-return touchdowns. 

 

In his last game against Minnesota (10/6/08), Bush tied an NFL record with two punt-return touchdowns.

 

The players in NFL history with two combined kick-and punt-return touchdowns in postseason history:

 

PLAYER

COMBINED RETURN TDs

PUNT-RETURN TDs

KICK-RETURN TDs

Ron Dixon

2

0

2

Desmond Howard

2

1

1

Jermaine Lewis

2

1

1

 

 

 

 

Reggie Bush*

1

1

0

* Active

 

 

 

 

Bush has recorded a touchdown in each of his three career playoff games, and has scored an 80+ yard touchdown in an NFL-record two consecutive playoff games.  He aims for his third straight such game on Sunday.

 

  

 

NFC TROPHY PRESENTATION:  The winner of the NFC Championship Game will be presented with the GEORGE HALAS TROPHY

 

Halas, the late owner of the Chicago Bears and a founder of the NFL, is the second-winningest coach in history (324-151-31) behind DON SHULA (347-173-6).  He won six NFL championships with the Bears and is a charter enshrinee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963).