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The 49ers History with Revenge Games



There's been a lot of talk about this Sunday's clash between the 49ers and the Eagles. All offseason, numerous players have stated that they've circled December 3rd on their calendar, anticipating the moment that they could rectify themselves for the painful loss in to the Eagles in last year's NFC Championship Game. Of course, this isn't the first time that the 49ers have participated in a "revenge game". Ever since their first foray in the NFL playoffs in 1957, the franchise has played in 18 such games. Let's take a look back at each of those occasions.


1958: Lions


The 49ers had stewed all offseason over how 1957 had ended. That year, they had enjoyed their best season ever in the NFL, going all the way to the Western Division Championship Game against the Lions. Up by 20 early in the third quarter, the 49ers' huge lead melted away as the Lions staged one of the most historic comebacks in NFL history. San Francisco would carry the loss for years.



Most of the main characters were back from the year before. Lions quarterback Kyle Rote scored on a three-yard scamper in the first quarter and John Brodie answered right back with a four-yard touchdown pass to Clyde Conner to tie it up. Inspired by their young quarterback's moxie against the reigning league champs, the 49ers scored 10 more points before the half was complete, with seven of those points coming off of the feet of Joe "the Jet" Perry, who ran for an exhilarating 73-yard touchdown.


Up by 10 at the half, the 49ers were feeling confident as they schemed for the second half. But the Lions were league champs for a reason. Again Kyle Rote scored (this time from the two) and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jim Doran to steal the lead out from the 49ers' noses.


Staring at a four-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, Y.A. Tittle lofted a pass to Hugh McElhenny who then took it the rest of the way, 32 yards downfield. San Francisco won 24-21.



1972: Cowboys


Three years after their last Thanksgiving bout, the 49ers and the Cowboys were officially rivals, having met in the past two NFC Championship Games. Of course, its not a real rivalry if one team wins all the time and at this point, the Cowboys had dominated the past two years while the 49ers fell flat on their faces. The 49ers were not craving turkey that day, they were craving vengeance.


The game started off slow with Walt Garrison's seven-yard scamper providing the games only points in the first quarter. It looked like the game would be a snooze-fest until Skip Vanderbundt recovered a Dallas fumble and returned it 73 yards for a game changing touchdown.


The floodgates were opened on that fumble recovery and the 49ers never looked back. It seemed like everyone scored that day. Players such as Ken Willard (one-yard rush), Ted Kwalick (12-yard reception from Steve Spurrier) and Bruce Gossett (18-yard field goal) all scored, frustrating Cowboys coach Tom Landry to no end.


Meanwhile, the 49ers Gold Rush pass rush became a living nightmare for Craig Morton and Roger Staubach, combining to sack them nine times. the pass rush got so bad that Skip Vanderbundt was able to record his second defensive touchdown of the day, picking off Morton and returning the interception 21 yards for the game's final points. The 49ers won decisively 31-10.



1984: Redskins


The 49ers were still stewing from the previous January. After falling behind by three touchdowns, Joe Montana picked apart the Redskins and led his teammates on a comeback attempt for the ages. After tying the game, Ronnie Lott was called for a controversial interference penalty, giving the Redskins and the NFL's best kicker, Mark Moseley, the field position they needed to punch their way to the Super Bowl. Even though the Raiders demolished the Redskins in the Super Bowl, the 49ers sought redemption in Week 2 of the 1984 season.


Wendell Tyler got the ball rolling for the 49ers. Amidst the autumn glow of Candlestick Park, he scored on runs of one and five yards in the first quarter alone. the 49ers began to pull away even further in the second quarter with two field goals by Ray Wersching and Dwight Clark's 15 yard touchdown grab extending the Niners' lead to 27 before Mark Moseley put his team on the board with a late field goal right before the half.


That last second field goal proved to be an omen for the second half as the redskins mounted a comeback attempt of their own. Charlie Brown cut the deficit to 20 on a 14-yard pass from Joe Theismann in the third quarter and folk hero running back John Riggins scored on a short touchdown run on the ensuing drive. Suddenly, the 49ers once great four touchdown lead had been cut in half.


But Joe Montana refused to let his team fall, not again. He capped off the first drive of the fourth quarter with a seven-yard dash into the end zone. After Riggins scored again to give the Redskins life, Ray Wersching's 28-yard field goal was just enough to ice the game. The 49ers won 37-31.


1986: Giants



All looked well as dusk crept along the San Francisco waterfront. The 49ers had ended 1985 disappointed against a team that was quickly on the rise, the New York Giants. Loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, the Giants hungered for a title.


Which is why the 49ers 17-0 halftime lead was so surprising. They had seemingly gone up and down the field at will against the likes of Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks as well as the mind of defensive coordinator Bill Belichick. What's more, star tight end Mark Bavaro had broken his jaw right before the half, making his return doubtful.


But Bavaro returned and led a comeback that fueled their eventual triumph in that year's Super Bowl. Although the record book indicates that it was Otis Anderson's one-yard plunge that won it for the Giants, it was really Mark Bavaro's gutsy 31-yard reception early in the third quarter that sparked the Giants comeback. New York won 21-17


1987: Giants


After getting annihilated in the playoffs the years before to the tune of 42-3, the 49ers reloaded for 1987, trading for Steve Young as an eventual replacement for franchise icon Joe Montana. But unbeknownst to many, Montana still had some gas left in his tank and would soon embark on the greatest stretch of his career.


But before he could do so, the NFL Players Association went on strike, bringing the entire season to a halt. After a week of pause and deliberation, the NFL season resumed with rosters full of two dreaded words: replacement players.


While some teams planned ahead, others were in denial until it was too late. When the 49ers met the Giants during the strike, it was clear who was more prepared than the other.

The game was over before it even started. As the 49ers replacements poured it on, numerous unheard of players took advantage of their moment to shine in the 41-21 demolition. Running backs Mike Varajon (16 carries for 75 yards), Tony Cherry (13 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown) and Andre Harday (7 carries for 48 yards) each showed their unique potential. In the end, Bill Walsh even installed the Wing-T, a formation that no longer exists in the NFL.


1988: Vikings


It was destiny. The 49ers were going to win the Super Bowl in San Diego at the end of the strike-shortened 1987 season. Bill Walsh's crew had never been hotter, with Jerry Rice scoring a league record 23 touchdowns in just 12 games. It didn't even matter who was starting under center as both Joe Montana and Steve Young just kept giving the ball to Rice.


Going into the playoffs, they were the prohibitive favorite to win the Super Bowl. They just had to get past the lowly Vikings. Perhaps the 49ers overlooked the Vikings on that soggy afternoon. Whatever the case may be, Joe Montana was atrocious, throwing a pick-six right before the half and not looking any better in the third quarter. So Bill Walsh made a change, sending in Steve Young to possibly save the day as the 49ers trailed by 17. The change was too little, too late as a porous defense repeatedly failed to help the 49ers in their comeback attempt.


For much of the following season, the 49ers were mired in the mother of all quarterback controversies. For one of the few times in his career, Joe Montana's competence as a leader was called into question. Going into San Francisco's rematch with the Vikings, Montana was sidelined while Young again took his place.


Having accomplished the unexpected the year before, the Vikings came into the game supremely confident. It was a tough, physical game, but the 49ers stayed together despite the adversity. While Steve Young was sacked four times, he managed to gain 72 yards on the ground on just seven carries, including the game winning 49-yard scamper into the end zone. The 49ers won 24-21.



1991: Giants


The 49ers three-pete dreams had died at the hands of these Giants just nine months earlier. with Joe Montana sidelined due to a brutal hit by Leonard Marshall, it was Steve Young who handed the ball to Roger Craig that was fumbled away. While the Giants won by a field goal in that NFC Championship Game, the 49ers could only watch as New York won the Super Bowl the following week.


Entering the 1991 season opener in New York, Joe Montana remained sidelined with an elbow injury and would remain so through much of the following season as well. It was a time of change in San Francisco, but Jerry Rice's 73-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter could only help the 49ers forget for a moment the challenges that lay ahead.


From there, it was de ja vu for the 49ers. Super Bowl MVP Otis Anderson scored from the one-yard line and NFC Championship hero Matt Bahr connected on a field goal attempt to extend the Giants lead to 13-7 entering halftime.


In the third quarter, Steve Young completed a drive by scrambling from the five-yard line to retake the lead by a single point. However, Matt Bahr and his teammates would not be denied as he connected on a 35-yard field goal to give the Giants a 16-14 win.


1993: Cowboys


The tide had changed in the NFL. After a decade of dominance, the 49ers lost to the Cowboys in the 1992, NFC Championship Game. A rising force, the Cowboys were set to dominate the league for the next several years and talks of a possible dynasty were not far from their lips. Having been knocked off their pedestal, the 49ers began to hunger for another Super Bowl.


But it wasn't meant to be in 1993. That year, the Cowboys were clicking on all cylinders. They were a machine built to decimate the competition with no regard for human life.


Looking to avenge their past misfortune, the 49ers traveled to Dallas in Week 7 after their bye week, sporting a 3-2 record. Early on, things looked good for San Francisco as defensive back Eric Davis scored on a fumble recovery early in the game, helping his team to a 10-3 first quarter lead.


All looked bleak at halftime. After all, the Cowboys had just scored 13 unanswered points in the second quarter and it appeared that they could not be stopped. But Brent Jones would not let his teammates die quietly, catching a 12-yard touchdown in the third quarter. But alas, it was not meant to be for San Francisco. Not that day. Troy Aikman lobbed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Michael Irvin and after a Cowboys field goal, Dallas won 26-17.


1994: Cowboys


After again losing to the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers were fuming and immediately began preparing for the 1994 the minute that the 1993 NFC Championship Game came to a painful close. That offseason the 49ers went about adding numerous new faces to their roster, especially on defense. Studs such as Rickey Jackson, Gary Plummer, Bryant Young and Deion Sanders bolstered their defense to new heights. They even got back at the Cowboys for trading for Charles Haley two years earlier by signing free agent Ken Norton Jr., a stalwart on Dallas' defense. It was a symbolic move heard all across the league. Entering the 1994 season, everyone in the NFL knew that these were the only two teams that really had a shot at the Super Bowl.


Entering the contest with a single game advantage over the 49ers, Dallas entered Candlestick Park filled with confidence and bravado, seeing no reason why they couldn't leave the City by the Bay with another victory over their nemesis.


At first, their mentality seemed prophetic as Emmitt Smith opened things up with a four-yard scamper into the end zone. Steve Young took control of the game from there. He tied things up with a one-yard sneak in the second quarter, seized the lead with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice in the third and iced the game with a 13-yard touchdown strike to Brent Jones in the fourth. The 49ers beat the two-time defending Super Bowl champions 21-14.


1996: Packers


Entering the 1995 playoffs, the 49ers fully expected to meet the Cowboys in the conference title game for the fourth consecutive year. Unfortunately for them, they stumbled upon the resurgent Green Bay Packers who proceeded to shock the NFL world, punching their ticket to the NFC Championship Game in Dallas.


By the following year, the Packers were very much on a mission to go all the way and win the Super Bowl. They were the best in the league, dominating the competition on both sides of the ball with Brett Favre and his receivers lighting up the scoreboard while Reggie White led a ferocious pass rush.


On Monday Night Football, the 49ers visited Lambeau Field down a man as Steve Young was out with a concussion. In his place stood Elvis Grbac, a reliable backup with nowhere near the amount of talent that Young provided. Despite the odds, Grbac stood firm, firing two touchdown passes to Jerry Rice in the second quarter to help give the 49ers an 11-point halftime lead.


But the Packers were the best team in the league for a reason and fought back in the second half. Chris Jacke's 53-yard field goal won it for the Packers in overtime.


Packers: 23, 49ers: 20


1997: Packers



Having been embarrassed on Lambeau's muddy field in the playoffs the year before, the 49ers again met the Packers in the playoffs. Only this time, they were hosting the NFC Championship Game against the defending Super Bowl champions.


The game was never much of a contest as the Packers entered the half up 13-3. Only Chuck Levy's 95-yard kickoff return provided the 49ers their only touchdown of the rain-soaked afternoon. The 49ers lost 23-10.


1998: Packers


After losing to the Green Bay Packers in the last three postseason's, the 49ers were growing frustrated. What would they have to do to finally defeat their longtime tormentors?


The 49ers were forced to play catchup from the start as Antonio Freeman took a Brett Favre pass 80 yards for the game's first points. Things only got worse for San Francisco when a bad snap on a punt turned into a safety for Green Bay. Already staring at a nine-point deficit against the two-time defending NFC Champions was not the start that the Niners were hoping for.


Things only got worse when Robert Brooks took a pass from Favre and took it 30 yards for another Green Bay touchdown. Staring at an early 16-point deficit, the 49ers were undaunted and fought back to tie the game at 22-all early in the fourth quarter. Alas, vengeance would have to wait til their next meeting as the Packers went on to score two more touchdowns to secure the decisive win. Green Bay won 36-22.



1999: Falcons


1999 was a very difficult year for the 49ers. After losing Steve Young to a concussion early in the year, the franchise was forced to turn to Jeff Garcia. While he was very good in Canada, he had difficulty adjusting to the NFL in his early years. With a team still loaded with top tier talent in Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice, they wound up winning just four games a year after winning a dozen.


They had had their hearts broken in Atlanta the year before, losing by two in the Divisional Round. Having won just three times entering the late season game, the 49ers were fired up to beat the team that had ended their Super Bowl hopes the year before.


Charlie Garner began the scoring binge with an eight-yard dash into the end zone in the first quarter. that was followed up with Fred Beasley's one-yard plunge and Bryant Young's sack of Chris Chandler, resulting in a safety. Suddenly, the woeful 49ers had roared back to life, entering the half with a 19-point advantage entering the half.


Only Winslow Oliver's 58-yard punt return provided Atlanta their only points that afternoon. The 49ers won 26-7.


2002: Packers


The 49ers hoped to avenge their bitter Wild Card defeat to the Packers in the 2001 playoffs. The first half was more of a soccer match, with the 49ers taking a 6-3 lead into halftime.


The Packers took control in the third quarter, with Ahman Green's nine-yard scamper into the end zone and Donald Driver's five-yard touchdown reception. Terrell Owens brought San Fransisco back to life late in the quarter with a 45-yard catch-and-run that put the 49ers within three. But Ryan Longwell's 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter virtually iced the game for the Packers. Green Bay won 20-14.


2003: Buccaneers


The 49ers had been thoroughly outclassed by Tampa Bay in the 2002 Divisional Round. Gutted by a coaching change and the salary cap, the 49ers looked very different than the year before when the faced the Bucs in 2003.


After finishing the first quarter tied at seven, the 49ers took control of the rest of the game. In the second quarter, Tai Streets scored on a 14-yard reception while Terrell Owens took Jeff Garcia's pass 75 yards to stretch the Niners' lead to 14. Owen Pochman's 27-yard field goal iced the game for the 49ers who beat the defending Super Bowl champs 24-7.


2012: Giants


After eight years of darkness, the 49ers had returned to the playoffs in 2011 in the hunt for their sixth Lombardi Trophy After an exhilarating win over the high-powered Saints in the Divisional Round, it felt like this was their time to shine. But they hit stiff competition with the Giants the following week, falling flat on their faces due to two muffed punts


Seeking redemption against the now-defending Super Bowl champs the next year, the 49ers again fell flat on their faces. but this time was different. Alex Smith threw three interceptions and their offense could do nothing against a fierce pass rush. The Giants won 26-3.


2014: Seahawks


At the time, the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry was one of the juiciest in the NFL. The previous January, the Seahawks had broken the hearts of the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game and went on to win the Super Bowl. Like Dallas in 1972, the 49ers hungered for vengeance this Thanksgiving.


The Seahawks started off well, finishing off a.drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Robert Turbin in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the 49ers started off slow and never recovered as the Seahawks built their lead one field goal at a time. Things only got worse for the 49ers when the most hated player on the Seahawks' roster, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, picked off two of Colin Kaepernick's passes. The Seahawks won 19-3 and feasted on the 49ers logo after the game, the ultimate slight.


2022: Rams


After a gutsy performance in Green Bay the week before, the 49ers seemed ready to power through the Rams in the NFC Championship Game on their way to winning the Super Bowl. The Rams had other ideas and broke the 49ers hearts.


On Monday Night Football, the 49ers showed the world that they were ready to seize the division by the horns. Down with a 1-2 record, the 49ers ran all over the rams after Jeff Wilson gutted Los Angeles on a 32-yard scamper up the middle. things only got worse for the defending champs late in the second quarter when Deebo Samuel made a spectacular 57-yard catch-and-grad go give his team a commanding 14-6 lead.


Talanoa Hufanga's 52-yard pick-six late in the fourth quarter iced the game for the 49ers in the 24-9 drubbing.




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