Giants 20 49ers 17 (OT) | NFC Championship
In the modern game of football, you can still make a good living with a suffocating defense. But there has to be a semblance of an offense when it is needed. Such as on third downs to keep drives alive. The New York Giants were 7-for-21 in third-down situations. The San Francisco 49ers were 1-for-13, allowing the Giants to have more of their share of possession.
And when you can’t make first downs, these things tend to happen:
San Francisco 36 New Orleans 32
Alex Smith flourished in Urban Meyer’s up-tempo spread offense at Utah. In 2004, Smith was a finalist for the Heisman. It all went downhill from there. Until 2011 and new coach Jim Harbaugh.
The San Francisco 49ers, with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft chose Smith. The once-proud organization had been in free-fall. Things had been unravelling since owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. pled guilty to a felony charge. Control was given to DeBartolo’s sister and her husband. The degradation of the front office filtered down to the field. Losing 11 of the last 12 games in 1999 was the ultimate implosion. They made a brief playoff appearance in 2002 (which included a comeback from a 24-point deficit to defeat the Giants by a point), but had to wait 10 more years to make it back to NFL relevance.