Kevin C. Cox
The San Francisco 49ers came back from an early 17-0 deficit to stun the Atlanta Falcons on the road. They will represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII.
Things looked bleak early for the Niners. Matt Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones for two touchdowns and gave the Falcons a 17-0 lead early in the first half. Meanwhile, San Francisco was held to just -2 offensive yards in the first quarter.
The 49ers finally found a pulse, however. Colin Kaepernick started to use Vernon Davis more, and Davis had a field day against the Falcons' defense. LaMichael James sprinted 15 yards on a read-option play to put the 49ers on the board. On the very next drive, Kaepernick hooked up with Davis from five yards out to cut the deficit to three points at the two minute warning. The defense couldn't hold, however, as Ryan marched right down the field and found Tony Gonzalez to give his team a 24-14 lead at halftime.
San Francisco scored the only points in the third quarter thanks to a Frank Gore five-yard run. After that, the game briefly devolved into a comedy of errors. The 49ers committed some crucial mistakes, including a Michael Crabtree fumble at the one-yard line and a David Akers 38-yard field goal attempt that doinked off the uprights.
The 49ers finally took their first lead of the game when a Frank Gore nine-yard run put them up 28-24 with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter. A late Ryan drive came up short, and the Niners are heading to New Orleans.
Box Score Hero: Gore scored two touchdowns, including the game winner, and finished with 90 yards. Davis had his best game in ages, with five catches for 106 yards and a score.
Injury Report: Falcons running back Michael Turner left the game in the third quarter and never returned. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling split carries.
Did They Cover: The 49ers were 3.5 favorites on the road, and so were able to cover.
What's Next: San Francisco will be playing for their sixth Super Bowl championship, while the Falcons get to bust out their draft boards and free agent wishlists.