If Sunday's game is anything like the last time the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers squared off in the postseason, hold on to your chin straps. It's going to be a wild ride.
Sunday marks the seventh time the Giants and 49ers have met in the playoffs. The previous six games have included classic thrillers, nail-biting defensive squeakers and a couple of kick-butt routs. They've spanned 27 seasons and included several future Hall of Famers and big-name coaches.
Before we look forward to the Niners and Giants resuming their rich and contentious postseason history today, here's a brief look back.
Dec. 29, 1984 at Candlestick Park, 49ers 21, Giants 10.
Bill Parcells' Giants could pick off Joe Montana three times, but they couldn't stop him. Montana threw first-quarter touchdown passes to Dwight Clark and Russ Francis, then sealed the win with a fourth-quarter TD pass to Freddie Solomon. Strange but true: Montana also was the game's leading rusher with 63 yards on three carries. Riki Ellison and Ronnie Lott had interceptions, Fred Dean had two of the team's six sacks and Dwaine Board recovered a fumble. Bill Walsh's team went on to defeat the Miami Dolphins and win its second Super Bowl.
Dec. 29, 1985 at the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J., Giants 17, 49ers 3.
Phil Simms' statistics were unimpressive (15 of 31, 181 yards, one interception), but he did throw two TD passes against the 49ers. And Joe Morris rushed for 141 yards on 28 carries. Montana threw for nearly 300 yards, 120 to Clark, but the Lawrence Taylor-led defense kept the Niners out of the end zone. The Giants went on to the next round of the playoffs, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears.
Jan. 4, 1987, at the Meadowlands. Giants 49, 49ers 3.
Probably the most embarrassing loss in the Walsh era. Jerry Rice dropped a sure touchdown early in the game (he caught a pass from Montana and was running with an apparently clear path to the end zone when, untouched, he simply lost control of the ball) and the 49ers were never again a factor. Before getting knocked out of the game, Montana was intercepted twice. Backup Jeff Kemp struggled to complete 7 of 22 passes for 64 yards. Roger Craig was SF's leading rusher with 17 yards on five carries. The Giants went on to defeat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Jan. 20, 1991 at Candlestick Park, Giants 15, 49ers 13.
This was an emotionally wrenching loss for the 49ers, who had won the previous Super Bowl in George Seifert's first year as head coach. The SF defense kept the Giants out of the end zone, sacked Jeff Hostetler three times and recovered two fumbles, but still came out on the short end of the score, thanks to five Matt Bahr field goals, including a 42-yard kick in the fourth quarter. Taylor recovered a Roger Craig fumble in the final minute to seal the 49ers' fate. The Giants went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl.
Jan. 15, 1994 at Candlestick Park, 49ers 44, Giants 3.
Ravin Caldwell, Eric Davis and Tim McDonald had interceptions, and Dana Stubblefield had two of the 49ers' four sacks against the Dan Reeves-coached Giants. Offensively, it was the Steve Young and Ricky Watters show. Young completed 17 of 22 passes for 226 yards, and Watters rushed 24 times for 118 yards and five touchdowns. For good measure, the Niners knocked Phil Simms out of the game after picking him off twice. The 49ers lost in the next round to the Dallas Cowboys, who went on to win their second straight Super Bowl.