2011 NFL Playoffs: The 10 Best NFC Championship Games of All Time

Frank Fittipaldi@@Frank_FittiCorrespondent IIJanuary 19, 2011

2011 NFL Playoffs: The 10 Best NFC Championship Games of All Time

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    GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 20:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants celebrates with fans after winning the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers on January 20, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.   The Giants defeated
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    As we approach the NFC Championship between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, we must take a look back on the greatest NFC Championship games ever played.

    We have seen some amazing games over the years in the playoffs, especially in the AFC and NFC Championship games.

    From the Atlanta Falcons beating the high-powered Minnesota Vikings in the 1998-99 NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants' improbable victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the 2007-08 NFC Championship Game, we now take a look at the 10 greatest NFC Championship Games of all time.

1999-2000: St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    8 Aug 1998:  Wide receiver Ricky Proehl #87 of the St. Louis Rams in action during a pre-season game against the Denver Broncos at the TWA Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. The Broncos defeated the Rams 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr  /Allsport
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    In the 1999 season, Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams earned themselves the name, "The Greatest Show On Turf."

    However, that show was not so great against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. 

    Leading 6-5 late in the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers gave up the lead on a touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to Ricky Proehl with 4:44 remaining.

    The Rams would go on and win a surprising defensive battle to move on to the Super Bowl and defeat the Tennessee Titans.

2008-2009: Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after teammate Tim Hightower #34 scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC championship game on January 18, 2009 a
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals shocked the world by reaching the NFC Championship Game.

    The Cardinals came out firing by going into halftime with a 24-6 lead.

    The Eagle defense made some adjustments at halftime, giving up no first downs in the third quarter. After two Brent Celek touchdown catches, the Eagles were suddenly back in the game down 24-19.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Donovan McNabb hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a 62-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a one-point lead, after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

    Down 25-24, Warner hit Tim Hightower on an eight-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals the lead. It was 32-25 after the two-point conversion.

    The Cardinals would hold on and go to the Super Bowl.

    Larry Fitzgerald finished the game with nine catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns.

2009-2010: New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Tracy Porter #22 of the New Orleans Saints intercepts a pass late in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (P
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    In a game where the Vikings out-gained the Saints by over 200 yards, the Saints took advantage of a key mistake made by Brett Favre.

    With the game tied at 28 in the fourth quarter, the Vikings were close to field goal range, and then it happened. Brett Favre threw across his body and the ball was intercepted by Saints cornerback Tracy Porter.

    The Saints won the toss and Drew Brees led them downfield to set up a game-winning 40-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley.

    The Saints won 31-28 in overtime and went on to defeat the Colts in the Super Bowl.

1998-1999: Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    12 Nov 2000:  Morten Andersen #5 of the Atlanta Falcons kicks the ball as teammate Dan Stryzinski #4 held it for him during the game against the Detroit Lions at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Falcons 13-10.Mandatory Credit: T
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    In Randy Moss' rookie season in 1998, the Minnesota Vikings scored an then-NFL record 556 points only to lose to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship.

    Led by Randall Cunningham, Chris Carter and Randy Moss, the Vikings could not get passed the Falcons.

    The Vikings became the first 15-1 team to fail to reach the Super Bowl.

    Vikings'kicker Gary Anderson had to chance to give the Vikings a 10-point lead, but missed a 38-yard field goal after being perfect all season.

    Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler then led his team downfield and hit Terrence Mathis on a game-tying touchdown to send it into overtime tied at 27.

    Morten Anderson's 38-yard field goal sent the Falcons to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

1992-1993: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    25 Nov 1999: Coach Jimmy Johnson of the Miami Dolphins talks to Emmitt Smith #22 of the Dallas Cowboys as he walks onto the field during the game at the Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins 20-0.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    "How 'Bout Them Cowboys!"

    This NFC Championship Game is not so much remembered for the game itself, but for Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson's postgame speech.

    The 49ers were down 24-13 in the fourth quarter, and but Steve Young led them downfield to cut the lead to 24-20.

    However, Troy Aikman responded with a touchdown of his own, which was set up by a 70-yard reception by Alvin Harper on the previous play.

    The Cowboys went on to win 30-20. 

1995-1996: Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers

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    18 Nov 1996:  Running back Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball during the first half of the Cowboys game against the Green Bay Packers at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The Cowboys and Packers fought in a back-and-forth battle in this NFC Championship Game.

    In a game of two great quarterbacks in Troy Aikman and Brett Favre, the Cowboys got the best of Favre in this one.

    Down 27-24 in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys drove 90 yards to take the lead on a five-yard Emmitt Smith touchdown, his second of the game.

    The Cowboys then intercepted a Brett Favre pass to set up a 16-yard Smith touchdown, his third of the game.

    Smith's touchdown would clinch a trip to the Super Bowl with a 38-27 victory.

2007-2008: New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

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    GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 20:  Kicker Lawrence Tynes #9 of the New York Giants watches his 18 yard feild goal miss at the end of the fourth quarter during the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers on January 20, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The New York Giants were in Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.

    Eli Manning and the Giants had to win all their games on the road to get to the Super Bowl, and that is exactly what they did, including their 23-20 overtime win against the Packers.

    Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a 36-yard field goal in regulation to give the Giants the win, so the game was sent into overtime tied at 20.

    Brett Favre and the Packers had the ball in overtime, only to give it back to the Giants after cornerback Corey Webster picked off Favre for perhaps the biggest play of the game.

    Tynes redeemed himself by hitting a 47-yard field goal to send the Giants to the Super Bowl, where they beat the 18-0 Patriots, 17-14.

1990-1991: New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    20 Jan 1991:  Quarterback Jeff Hostetler of the New York Giants (left) celebrates after kicker Matt Bahr kicked the winning field goal during a playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The Giants won
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Both the Giants and 49ers began their regular seasons with 10-0 records, but the 49ers were the ones who earned home-field advantage due to a 7-3 Monday night win over the Giants.

    In their second meeting, the 49ers were the favorites to win the Super Bowl until Joe Montana was knocked out of the game by Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall.

    Giants kicker Matt Bahr hit a 42-yard game winning field goal to give the Giants a 15-13 win and send them to the Super Bowl.

1983-1984: Washington Redskins vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    1983:  Quarterback Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins passes the ball during a game. Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers capitalized on the Washington Redskins' four missed field goals by scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

    After Joe Montana's three touchdown passes to tie the game, the Redskins were left with over six minutes to win the game and get to the Super Bowl.

    Redskins kicker Mark Moseley got another opportunity to redeem himself, and he delivered with a 25-yard game-winning field goal to give the Redskins a 24-21 victory.

    The field goal was set up after a pass interference call following an incompletion from Joe Theismann.

1981-1982: San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 6:  Wide receiver Dwight Clark #87, tight end Russ Francis #81 and quarterback Joe Montana #16 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrate during the 1984 NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on January 6, 1
    George Rose/Getty Images

    The NFC Championship in the 1981-1982 postseason was known for "The Catch."

    Down 17-14 at halftime, the 49ers took the lead in the third quarter on a Johnny Davis touchdown run.

    The Cowboys then cut the lead to 21-20 after a Rafael Septien field goal. After the Cowboys recovered a 49ers fumble, tight end Doug Cosbie caught a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 27-21 lead with just under five minutes left to play in regulation.

    The 49ers started their drive on their own 11-yard line and had to march 89 yards down the field to win the game.

    From the Cowboys' six-yard line, Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark for a touchdown that we all know as "The Catch."

    The Cowboys had time left, but 49ers cornerback Eric Wright made a key tackle to help the Niners win the game 28-27.


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