The San Francisco 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 on Sunday to return to the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four seasons.
The 49ers would carry a 12-game winning streak into the Super Bowl LVII semifinals against the Philadelphia Eagles, with the last seven wins coming with seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy at quarterback.
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San Francisco scored only one touchdown against Dallas. But Christian McCaffrey’s 2-yard scoring run on the first snap of the fourth quarter capped a 10-play, 91-yard drive and broke a 9–9 tie. A juggling catch for a 30-yard gain by tight end George Kittle started the touchdown march, and Dallas extended it with a defensive-holding penalty on a third-down sack – the Cowboys’ third penalty on the series.
The teams traded field goals on the next two possessions. Dallas had the football twice more than seven, but the Cowboys never crossed their own 32-yard line against the NFL’s No. 1 defense.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Both interceptions led to first-half field goals for the 49ers, who held a 9–6 halftime lead and came away with a punt return at their own 21-yard line in the third quarter with the score tied.
Purdy completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Wide receiver Sid Lamb had 10 receptions for 117 yards for the Cowboys, and Cattle had five receptions for 95 yards against the 49ers.
Four players from Alabama high schools and colleges took the field during the Dallas-San Francisco game:
· Trevon Diggs (Alabama) started at cornerback for the Cowboys. Diggs made four tackles.
Forty-Niners cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins (North Alabama) played but recorded no statistics. San Francisco elevated Jenkins from their practice squad to make him eligible to play.
Forty-Niners tight end Jordan Matthews (Madison Academy) is on injured reserve and is not eligible to play.
Cowboys defensive tackle Anthony Rush (UAB) is on the practice squad and is not eligible to play.
Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (McGill-Toolen, South Alabama) was designated as game-day inactive.
Jimmy Ward (Davidson) started at right cornerback for the 49ers. Ward recorded six tackles, tackles for loss, and broke up two passes. One of Ward’s breakaway passes landed in the hands of Fred Warner, and the San Francisco linebacker returned the interception 16 yards to the 49ers 28-yard line. But the interception did more than preserve a 6–6 tie with 1:15 left in the first half. San Francisco got into position for Robbie Gould to kick a 50-yard field goal on the final snap of the second quarter to put the 49ers ahead by three.
Cowboys defensive end Sam Williams (Lee-Montgomery) played but recorded no statistics.
Dallas qualified for the playoffs as the NFC’s top wild-card with a 12–5 record and opened the season with a 31–14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.
San Francisco won the NFC West with a 13-4 record and opened the postseason with a 41-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks last week.
The 49ers and Eagles will face off in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at 2 p.m. CST at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Eagles beat the New York Giants 38–7 on Saturday night to advance.
Last year, San Francisco lost to the Los Angeles Rams 20–17 in the NFC Championship Game.
The 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers 37–20 to win the conference crown for the 2019 season. San Francisco lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 31–20 in Super Bowl LIV.
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Mark Inabinet is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. follow him on twitter @AMarkG1,