NFC Championship 2012: Everything You Need to Know about Giants vs 49ers

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IJanuary 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass the ball against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park on November 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Here is everything you need to know about the 2012 NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants (11-7) and Sn Francisco 49ers (14-3).

THE BASICS

WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 at 6:00 EST

WHERE: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA

HOW: 49ers defeated New Orleans Saints, 36-32; Giants defeated Atlanta Falcons, 24-2, and Green Bay Packers, 37-20. 

SERIES: Tied 14-14 in regular season, 49ers lead postseason series 4-3.   

COACHES: Jim Harbaugh (13-3, 1-0 in postseason), 49ers; Tom Coughlin (142-114, 8-7 in postseason).

LINE: San Francisco -2.5

PREVIEW

While everyone talked about how much fun it was going to be to watch Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers go toe-to-toe in the NFC Championship game, two other teams quietly waited in the backdrop.

They were confident in themselves and starving for the opportunity to prove it to the NFL world.

Both those teams—the Giants and 49ers—got their shot in these playoffs, and they've taken full advantage.

After falling to, of all teams, the Washington Redskins in Week 15, the Giants have essentially won four straight elimination games. Just as they did in 2007, New York now has the chance to go on the road and stamp an unlikely run to the Super Bowl against an up-and-coming 49ers team.

The Giants took down the Jets and Cowboys to earn a playoff spot, then nonchalantly took it to the Falcons and Packers in the postseason to get to San Francisco.

The 49ers took a more memorable path to the NFC Championship Game.

Much-maligned quarterback Alex Smith—once a No. 1 overall pick above Rodgers and widely considered a bust for most of his career—led San Francisco on two touchdown drives in under four minutes to shock the Saints.

Many are calling his touchdown strike to Vernon Davis in the waning seconds "The Catch III," after Dwight Clark's late grab in 1982 to beat the Cowboys and Terrell Owens' last second reception that beat the Packers in the 1999 Wild Card round.

The once playoff rivals will renew their postseason acquaintance Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl XLVI awarded to the winner.

And just to think—a month ago this matchup was nothing more than fantasy.

Now, both Rodgers and Brees will be watching these two teams of destiny battle in a game each quarterback thought they'd be playing in.  

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