Arlington, Tx. — as they often did — and at an end befitting their historic rivalry — the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys fought to the bitter end of Sunday’s runaway NFC tag meeting.
Ultimately, a solid defensive effort from the Niners combined with countless Dallas errors allowed San Francisco to emerge with a 23-17 victory in the two teams’ first post-season meeting since 1995, and the first-ever game between two franchises with no fewer than Five Super Bowl wins a piece.
In the process, the 49ers became the first underdog (+3.5) and road team to win this season. It’s a victory that comes 40 years and a week after “The Catch” in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, and it would hold special meaning for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, whose father Mike was the Niners’ offensive coordinator at some famous meet. Between these teams in the nineties.
The Niners win by moving them to 3-5 all-time against Dallas in the playoffs and set up an NFC tag team match against another historic contender, the Green Bay Packers, next week.
None of it would have been possible without the great help of a cowboy. 3rd seed in the NFC, Dallas repeatedly made major mistakes throughout the match, including a Duck Prescott Intercept turns into 49ers relegation.
The Cowboys netted 14 penalty kicks – the most playoff tie in franchise history – for 84 yards. Many of these came at key moments, including the third landing, to keep San Francisco’s leadership alive.
The Niners made some mistakes of their own in the fourth quarter, including an interception from the quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo To prepare the Dallas landing.
As only the playoff between San Francisco and Dallas could provide it, it all led to significant last-minute drama. The Niners’ 23-7 lead evaporated as Dallas reduced it to 23-17 and returned the ball to the Cowboys with a late kick after a delayed penalty kick moved the Niners from fourth and 1 to fourth and 6.
The Cowboys quickly made it to San Francisco Territory with a 38-yard pass into a tight end Dalton Schultz. But the 49ers defense, as in all games, was delivered at the time it was needed most even without the full-back Fred Warner (Ankle) and defensive end Nick Bossa (Concussion) They both left during the match and never came back. The 49ers defense only played 23 shots throughout the regular season with Bosa and Warner off the field.
Garoppolo finished 16 of 25 for 172 yards with no touchdown and interception for a passer rating of 67.4. Prescott was 23 of 42 for 254 yards with a touchdown and interception for a passer rating of 65.7.
The Niners and Cowboys entered Sunday’s meeting with a total of 67 playoff wins, most tied to enter an all-time playoff. Dallas has won its last three wild card games, all at home, before defeating on Sunday. The 49ers have improved to 4-1 in playoff games on the road since 2012 after moving 2-9 in franchise history prior to that.
Traditionally, the 49ers-Cowboys playoff winner has enjoyed post-season success. The winner of five of the previous seven post-season meetings, including each of the past four, has won the Super Bowl.
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