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A Look Back: The 49ers First Christmas Game

NFL games on Christmas Day have always been rare. In fact, up until this coming Monday, the San Francisco 49ers have only played in one such game. Let's take a look back at that game.

The Lead-Up

After blowing a historic 32-point lead in the 1992 Wild Card Round, the Houston Oilers began 1993 slow in a mix of bad losses, bad locker room make up, strife within the coach's room and a brief quarterback controversy involving legendary gunslinger Warren Moon.

But by early October, everything began to gel. Kevin Gilbride's run and shoot offense began to click and Buddy Ryan's defense began to strike fear in opposing quarterbacks. Before they knew it, they were riding a long winning streak. By the time they reached San Francisco on Christmas night, the Oilers were riding a nine-game winning streak, having beaten teams by an average of 27.33 to 13

Meanwhile, the 49ers were striving for their fifth Lombardi Trophy, having lost in the NFC Championship Game the year before. After a bumpy start of their own, their offense really began to click, averaging 35.17 points in their six game winning streak. Although that streak ended two weeks before Christmas, the 49ers offense was still sizzling, having scored 55 point in Detroit just a week earlier.

The Game

Although the game was billed as a battle between two offensive juggernauts, it was defense that ruled the game from start to finish. It was such a slugfest that both teams would finish the game with their backup quarterbacks under center, their stars having been knocked out with game ending injuries.

After a scoreless first quarter, Houston's offense came to life, kicking off with a 24-yard field goal made by Al Del Greco. A short while later, Moon found Ernest Givins for a seven-yard touchdown.

And that's where the game stood up until the fourth quarter. Down by ten with the clock winding down, the 49ers offense came to life, their ensuing drive ending with Amp Lee's eight-yard rush into the end zone. But it was too little, too late as the Oilers won 10-7.

The game was nothing like what people had expected with Las Vegas's pregame spread of the 49ers -7.5 advantage paling in comparison. While Warren Moon threw for a paltry 158 yards and a touchdown, he also coughed up three interceptions. His counterpart, Steve Young, threw for just 179 yards and coughed up two interceptions while Jerry Rice gained 80 of those yards on 10 receptions. But that's the beautiful thing about the holidays, you never know what to expect.

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