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NFC Championship: Giants @ 49ers Game Preview

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NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

SUNDAY, JANUARY 22

NEW YORK GIANTS-NFC EAST (11-7) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-NFC WEST (14-3)

SERIES

GIANTS

49ERS

LEADER (REG. SEASON)

Series tied, 14-14

STREAKS (REG. SEASON)

3 of past 4

COACHES VS. OPP.

(REG. & POSTSEASON)

Coughlin: 4-1

Harbaugh: 1-0

COACHES PLAYOFF RECORD

Coughlin: 10-7

Harbaugh: 1-0

VS. COMMON OPP.

(REG. SEASON)

NYG: 5-4 (Arz. 1-0; Dal. 2-0; Phi. 1-1; StL. 1-0; Sea. 0-1; Was. 0-2)

SF: 7-2 (Arz. 1-1; Dal. 0-1; Phi. 1-0; StL. 2-0; Sea. 2-0; Was. 1-0)

PLAYOFF RECORD

22-24

26-17

LAST WEEK

W 37-20 at Packers

W 36-32 vs. Saints

LAST GAME (REG. SEASON)

11/13/11: Giants 20 at 49ers 27. San Francisco TE Vernon Davis (31-yard rec.) & RB Kendall Hunter (17-yard run) each record 4th-quarter TDs as 49ers hold off New York.

LAST GAME AT SITE

(REG. SEASON)

11/13/11

LAST PLAYOFF

1/5/03: Giants 38 at 49ers 39. San Francisco WR Tai Streets catches game-winning 13 yard TD pass from QB Jeff Garcia with 1:00 minute remaining.

BROADCAST

FOX (3:30 PM PT): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver & Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One Radio: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Mark Malone (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 92 (NYG), 86 (SF). XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (NYG), 226 (SF).

REGULAR SEASON STAT LEADERS

PASSING

Manning: 359-589-4,933 (3C)-29-16-92.9

Ale. Smith: 274-446-3,150-17-5-90.7

RUSHING

Bradshaw: 171-659-3.9-9

Gore: 282-1,211 (3C)-4.3-8

RECEIVING

Cruz: 82-1,536 (3L)-18.7-9

Crabtree: 73-880-12.1-4

OFFENSE

385.1

310.9

TAKE/GIVE

+7

+28 (1L)

DEFENSE

376.4

308.1 (1C)

SACKS

Pierre-Paul: 16.5

Ald. Smith (R): 14

INTs

Webster: 6 (T2C)

Goldson, Rogers: 6 (T2C)

PR

Ross: 7.1

Ginn: 12.3 (3C)

KR

D. Thomas: 24.3

Ginn: 27.6 (3L)

PUNTING

Weatherford: 45.7

Lee: 50.9 (1L)

KICKING

Tynes: 100 (43/43 PAT; 19/24 FG)

Akers: 166 (1L) (34/34 PAT; 44/52 FG)

NOTES

CLUBS MEET for 8th time in postseason & 49ers lead series 4-3. All-time regular-season series is tied 14-14, incl. 49ers' Week 10 win (27-20)...SF is 4-1 at home vs. NYG in postseason. Giants won only NFC Champ meeting between teams (1990), 15-13 at SF.

GIANTS: Playing in 18th Champ Game (NFL & NFC), most in NFL history. Are 4-0 all-time in NFC Champ Games. Head coach TOM COUGHLIN has led NYG to 5 postseason appearances, tied with BILL PARCELLS for most in team history. Has 6 postseason road wins in career, 1 behind HOFer TOM LANDRY (7) for most all-time. Giants had 2 players selected to Pro Bowl: QB ELI MANNING (2nd) & DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL (1st)...QB Manning has won 4 consecutive road playoff games. Passed for 330 yards & 3 TDs last week in Div. In postseason career, has passed for 1,904 yards & 14 TDs, most in franchise history. Had franchise-record 4,933 pass yards & 8 300-yard games in reg. season. Has 23 career 300-yard games (incl. playoffs), most in team history. Recorded 7th consecutive season with 3,000+ pass yards & 20+ pass TDs, most in team history. Had 15 4th quarter TD passes in reg. season, most ever in season, topping HOFer JOHNNY UNITAS & PEYTON MANNING...RB BRANDON JACOBS has 4 career rush TDs in playoffs, tied with JOE MORRIS (4) for most in franchise history. Since start of 2005 (incl. playoffs), has 60 rush TDs, 4th most in NFL. RB AHMAD BRADSHAW is 1 of 7 players in NFL with 1,800+ rush yards (1,894) & 80+ receptions (81) since start of 2010 season...WR HAKEEM NICKS had 7 catches for 165 yards & 2 TDs last week in Div. Had 6 catches for 115 yards & 2 TDs in WC. Is 3rd WR in SB era with 2+ games in single postseason with 100+ yards & 2+ TDs, joining HOFer JERRY RICE (1989) & LARRY FITZGERALD (2008). Nicks' 165 yards are 2nd most by Giant in playoff game (BOB SCHNELKER, 1959, 175 yards). Nicks had 72-yard TD in WC & 66-yard TD in Div. Is only player in NFL history with 66+ rec. TD in consecutive games in same postseason. Ranked 2nd on team in reg. season with 76 catches, 1,192 yards & 7 TDs. Only player in team history with 75+ catches, 1,000+ yards & 7+ TDs in consecutive seasons. WR VICTOR CRUZ had team-record 1,536 rec. yards in reg. season, 193 more than previous mark (1,343, AMANI TOOMER). Had team-high 9 rec. TDs in reg. season, incl. 99-yard TD in Week 16, tied for longest in NFL history. Had 5 rec. TDs of 65+ yards in reg. season, 2nd most in season in NFL history (6, HOFer ELROY "CRAZYLEGS" HIRSCH, 1951). Had 7 100-yard games in reg. season, most by Giant in season. Cruz (1,536) & Nicks (1,192) are 1st set of Giants to each record 1,000+ rec. yards in same season. WR MARIO MANNINGHAM has 20 career rec. TDs incl. postseason & has TD catch in both postseason games...DE Pierre-Paul ranked 4th in NFL during reg. season with 16.5 sacks. Joined HOFer LAWRENCE TAYLOR & MICHAEL STRAHAN as only Giants with 16+ sacks in season. DE JUSTIN TUCK had 2 sacks in SB XLII, tied for most in postseason game by Giant. In past 24 games (incl. playoffs), DE OSI UMENYIORA has 22.5 sacks & 12 FFs. Has 5 career postseason sacks, incl. 2 last week. LB MICHAEL BOLEY had 2 sacks in Div. CB COREY WEBSTER led team with career-high 6 INTs in reg. season.

49ERS: Make 13th Champ Game appearance. Are 26-17 (.605) in postseason all-time. Head coach JIM HARBAUGH is 1 of 3 head coaches in team history to win division in 1st year as head coach (GEORGE SEIFERT, 1989 & STEVE MARIUCCI, 1997). In reg. season, club led NFL with +28 turnover differential, best mark in franchise history. In Div., forced 5 turnovers (3 FR, 2 INT) & had +4 diff. 49ers tied for NFL lead with 8 players selected to Pro Bowl: K DAVID AKERS (6th), S DASHON GOLDSON (1st), RB FRANK GORE (3rd), P ANDY LEE (3rd), CB CARLOS ROGERS (1st), DT JUSTIN SMITH (3rd), T JOE STALEY (1st) & LB PATRICK WILLIS (5th)...QB ALEX SMITH has won 15 of past 18 starts overall. Passed for 299 yards, 3 TDs & 103.2 rating last week in playoff debut. Also had 28-yard TD run. Joins HOFer JOE MONTANA & JEFF GARCIA as only SF QBs with 3+ pass TDs & rush TD in playoff game. In career (incl. postseason), team is 11-0 when he starts & has 100+ rating. In reg. season, threw 5 INTs, tied for 3rd fewest in season in NFL history (min. 400 att.). Had 17 TDs & his 3.4 TD-INT ratio in reg. season was 3rd best in team history, trailing 2 seasons by HOFer STEVE YOUNG (1992 & 1994)...RB Gore rushed for 1,211 yards in reg. season, his team-record 5th 1,000-yard season. Is franchise's all-time leading rusher with 7,625 yards, passing HOFer JOE PERRY (7,344). Rushed for 89 yards & averaged 6.8 yards per carry in Div...TE VERNON DAVIS had 7 catches for 180 yards (25.7 avg.) & 2 TDs in Div. His 180 rec. yards are most by TE in NFL postseason history & are 2nd most by 49er in playoff game, trailing HOFer JERRY RICE (215 yards, 1/22/89). Since start of 2009 (incl. playoffs), has 28 TDs, most among NFC TEs. WR MICHAEL CRABTREE had 1st career postseason TD catch last week. 49ers have won 8 of past 9 (incl. playoffs) when Crabtree has TD catch...Rush defense led NFL in reg. season allowing 77.3 yards per game & total defense was 1st in NFC (308.2). 49ers allowed 3 reg. season rush TDs, fewest in 16-game season (since 1978). Was 1st team in NFL history to not allow rush TD in each of 1st 14 games to start season. Club allowed 229 points (14.3 per game) in reg. season, fewest in NFC & 2nd fewest in NFL. LB ALDON SMITH led NFL rookies with 14 sacks, 2nd most ever by rookie in reg. season. Had sack in postseason debut. DT Smith had 7.5 sacks in reg. season & is 1 of 3 players in team history with 6+ sacks in 4 consecutive seasons. Had sack in Div. LB NA VORRO BOWMAN led team in tackles during reg. season. LB Willis has been selected to Pro Bowl in 1st 5 seasons...K Akers set NFL season records with 44 FGs & 166 kicking points. Has scored in 20 consecutive playoff games & passed HOFer GEORGE BLANDA for 2nd longest streak. Is 2nd in NFL postseason history with 34 FGs & 3rd with 146 points. P Lee had NFL season record 44.0 net punting avg.

The NFC Championship Game marks the eighth postseason meeting between the Giants and 49ers, with San Francisco currently holding a 4-3 edge in the series. New York won the lone Conference Championship meeting between these two clubs, earning a 15-13 victory in San Francisco en route to a Super Bowl XXV title.

The game will feature a pair of former No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks, ELI MANNING (2004) and ALEX SMITH (2005), the second time in NFL playoff history two former No. 1 QBs will start against each other in a Conference Championship Game. The other occurrence pitted JOHN ELWAY's Broncos against the Jets'VINNY TESTAVERDE in the 1998 AFC title game.

The 49ers advanced to their 13th NFC Championship Game with a thrilling 36-32 victory over New Orleans last week. San Francisco's 13 Championship Game appearances are the third-most in the NFL since the 1970 merger.

"I'm just really proud of our team," says 49ers head coach JIM HARBAUGH. "You're going to live or die in these games. We lived. We move on and we move on in spectacular fashion."

Last week's Divisional contest between the 49ers and Saints was the first game in NFL postseason history that had four go-ahead touchdowns within a span of four minutes of playing time. For San Francisco, quarterback ALEX SMITH had a 28-yard TD run with 2:11 remaining and threw the game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end VERNON DAVIS with nine seconds left in the contest. Smith became the first player in NFL history to score a go-ahead touchdown and throw a go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the same playoff game.

"That was about as good as it gets," says Smith about the victory. "It feels great. We're still playing. We've got another week of work and I don't want this to end. Nobody in that locker room does because it's been such a great year."

Smith's TD pass to Davis with nine seconds left was the fourth go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter of a postseason game in 49ers history: JOE MONTANA's six-yard TD pass to DWIGHT CLARK with 51 seconds left (1981 NFC Championship); Montana's 10-yard TD pass to JOHN TAYLOR with 34 seconds remaining (Super Bowl XXIII); and STEVE YOUNG's 25-yard TD pass to TERRELL OWENS with three seconds left (1998 Wild Card).

"This is huge for us," says Davis, who set a postseason record for receiving yards by a tight end with 180, passing Pro Football Hall of Famer KELLEN WINSLOW (166). "It's history, legendary, anything you can describe."

The Giants, who are in the midst of their NFL-best 31st playoff appearance, avenged a 38-35 loss to Green Bay in Week 13. Manning passed for 330 yards and three touchdowns, including a 37-yarder to wide receiver HAKEEM NICKS on the last play of the first half.

"I was the jump man," said Nicks, who became the third player in NFL history with two touchdown catches of at least 65 yards in the same postseason, joiningTIM BROWN and ISAAC BRUCE. "I got down there and I didn't even see who was around me. All I saw was the ball and once I saw the ball, I had to jump and get it. I don't even know where I landed in the end zone. Once I went up and got it, I looked around and it was exciting."

New York's defense forced the Packers to commit four turnovers, their highest total of the season, including three fumbles and an interception by safety DEON GRANT. Linebacker MICHAEL BOLEY and defensive end OSI UMENYIORA also registered two sacks apiece for the Giants.

"We know we're a good football team and we're a great defense," says Umenyiora, who has 12 sacks in 11 games played this season, including the playoffs. "This is the postseason and we're playing the way we're supposed to be playing right now.