After a nearly flawless performance from Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had a costly clunker against the 49ers. Prescott’s two first-half interceptions were the self-inflicted errors San Francisco needed to send them through to the NFC Championship Game.
It was an anticlimactic showing from both teams, only combining for two touchdowns and 31 total points. Dallas jumped out to a 6-3 lead after a Prescott touchdown throw to TE Dalton Schultz. Kicker Brett Maher, who missed four PATs last week, had his attempt blocked to keep the score within a field goal.
It was all field goals for the 49ers in the first half. Robbie Gould knocked in three kicks, including one to end the first half to give them the 9-6 lead. Two of their three field goals came off Prescott’s interceptions. Dallas was fortunate to keep the game close after those turnovers.
San Francisco got their first touchdown of the contest with a Christian McCaffrey two-yard run to start the fourth quarter. The score came to cap off a 10-play, 91 yard drive. Tight end George Kittle helped keep the drive alive with a bobbled catch that went for 30 yards.
Both teams traded field goals on their ensuing possessions. Dallas had the ball to end the game and potentially get a game-tying touchdown. The Niners defense squashed any chance of drama, shutting down the Cowboys offense and not even letting Dallas get past their own 25-yard line.
Prescott finished the game 23 of 37 for 206 yards, in addition to a touchdown and two interceptions. Stud running back Tony Pollard left the game early with an ankle injury and did not return. That certainly was a blow to an explosive Cowboys offense. Ezekiel Elliott did not do much in relief, rushing for just 26 yards on 10 carries. CeeDee Lamb had a day though, catching 10 balls for 117 yards.
As for the 49ers, they did enough to win. Brock Purdy completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards. Purdy is now 8-0 since taking over as the starter for San Francisco. It was a total group effort for the Niners. Five players finished the game with 2+ receptions.
The stage is set for the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles, who made quick work of the New York Giants Saturday night.
The Niners are back in the conference championship, as they fell to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Rams 20-17 last season. San Fran last made the Super Bowl in 2019 when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, and they are hoping for a different result this time. Philly’s last trip to the NFCCG resulted in them later beating the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
On the AFC side, the Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Kansas City Chiefs, a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship.
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports