49ers Faithfuls, It's Armageddon Sunday at Candlestick Park

Categories: Sports
Take it from a Bears fan, there ain't no better rivalry in football, maybe in all of professional sports, than the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. No two teams have had so many epic battles, so many knock-down, drag-out fights, as the 49ers and Giants. Both teams have to be among the top three, or four, greatest teams in the history of the National Football League.

Going into this playoff game between the two teams -- their eighth -- which might be a record, the Giants have won three Super Bowls, were NFL champions four times, and have some 30 post-season appearances. The Niners have five Super Bowls and have been to the playoffs 24 times.

If I include the regular season and the playoffs, I count 10 significant games between these two teams. Here they are:

1. Sunday, Jan. 3, 1982
The Niners beat the Giants 38-24 in a divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park. Missed field goals and turnovers are cornerstones of this rivalry and the Giants lost the game due to a missed field goal and four turnovers. Thanks to this victory, the Niners hosted and bested the Cowboys the following week to inaugurate their glory years here with "The Catch" and the first of their five Super Bowl victories.

2. Saturday, Dec. 29, 1984
Thanks again go to the Giants for another divisional tune-up at Candlestick. The Niners went 15-1 that year and were unstoppable.They beat the Giants 21-10 and went on to win their second Super Bowl.

3. Sunday, Dec. 29, 1985
This was the year of the Chicago Bears, so who cares that the Giants beat 49ers 17-3 in their Wild-Card matchup at the Meadowlands? The game is noteworthy only because Joe Montana threw more passes than a Union Street wallflower.

4. Sunday, Jan. 4, 1987
The Niners took quite a drubbing, getting beat (up) 21-3 in New York. But the real story was seeing the Niners' beloved quarterback Joe Montana lying motionless on the turf.

5. Sunday, Sep. 11, 1988
There are many great moments in this rivalry. But this last-second 78-yard bomb from Montana to Rice was like a stake through the heart of Giants' fans in their own house. The Niners came from behind 17-13 to win 20-17 on the last play of the game.

6. Monday, Nov. 27, 1989
In this regular season game at Candlestick Park, both QBs were knocked out of the game, but returned heroically. The Niners won 34-24.

7. Monday, Dec. 3, 1990
These teams were on a collision course all season long. Both teams were 10-0 going into this game. Most memorable moments: The Giants' final drive in the closing seconds when, just yards from the end zone, Phil Simms had his arm cocked for a pass when he got tackled from behind to end the game in a 49ers' victory 7-3; and, after the game caught by the cameras, Phil Simms and Ronnie Lott went facemask to facemask on the sidelines.

8. Sunday, Jan. 20, 1991
This was a heartbreaking loss -- at home, one game from their third consecutive Super Bowl, after going 14-2 in the regular season, leading 13-12 and a sure touchdown drive in the final minutes of the NFC Championship, when Roger Craig fumbled. The Giants kicked a field goal, winning 15-13. It was also the end of the Joe Montana era.

9. Saturday, Jan. 15, 1994
Payback. It was Steve Young's team, and he and Rickey Watters crushed the Giants 44-3 in this divisional playoff at Candlestick.

10. Sunday, Jan. 5, 2003
It's a toss-up which 49er game was more exciting: last week's victory over the Saints with four lead changes in the fourth quarter, or this record-breaking Wild-Card game, coming back from a 24-point deficit in the final minute to win by one point, 39-38? You could write a book on this one game. The Giants had a 38-14 lead with four minutes to go in the third quarter. Punches were thrown, offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, all of those catches by Terrell Owens and Niners QB Jeff Garcia's heroics: 25 unanswered points on his two TD passes, 60 yards rushing, including a TD run from the 14-yard line, and then his 13-yard bullet to Tai Streets with one minute left to win it. (Can you guess how the Giants lost? A field goal snafu yet again.)

Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012
The Niners lead the series 18-17. Prediction: 49ers over the Giants 42-35 and their sixth appearance in the Super Bowl.

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Richard Hesse
Richard Hesse

Bears-Packers rivalry is better. All good rivalries include either neighboring or near locales. NYC and SF are about as far away as you can get. Best rivalry in sports? UNC-Duke hoops. Why? They're 10 miles away and Duke men try and steal UNC women. Next up, Boston-NYY in baseball. Again, close geography.

Jacob Wang
Jacob Wang

Do the 49ers' 24 postseason appearances include 1957?

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