49ers break Lions’ hearts after thrilling comeback in NFC Championship Game

The Detroit Lions have suffered over the years, but they experienced a new level of pain on Sunday when the team blew a 24-7 halftime lead in the NFC Championship Game.

Their captors, the San Francisco 49ers, will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl after the defending champions defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game earlier on Sunday.

The Lions, looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in their history, took an early 14-0 lead against a 49ers team known for their struggles in coming back from deficits. That lead grew to 17 points in the third quarter before a breathtaking catch by Brandon Aiyuk led to a 49ers comeback that will haunt the dreams of Lions fans for years to come.

“We played as bad as we could in the first half, but we were still within 17 points. There are plenty of points you can make up for,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said. “The D shut them out there in the second half and this guy next to me (quarterback Brock Purdy) made it happen.”

San Francisco made its fourth-ever comeback from trailing by 17 points or more in a conference title game, thanks to some big plays by Purdy and bad mistakes by the Lions, including two failed fourth downs from field goal range. Detroit failed to reach their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

After being asked if he could lead a comeback, Purdy has now done it twice in as many weeks. He sparked a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to beat Green Bay last week and then made an even bigger comeback against the Lions.

Christian McCaffrey had two touchdown runs and little-used backup Elijah Mitchell scored on a three-yard run to make it 34-24 with 3:02 to play as the Niners got over the hump of the conference title game came after losing the past two seasons.

The Niners blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams two years ago and then had to play much of last year’s title game loss in Philadelphia without a functioning quarterback after Purdy lost his elbow had been injured. the opening drive and fourth-stringer Josh Johnson left early in the third quarter with a concussion.

But San Francisco managed to make the long journey back to this stage and is now in a position to give the franchise its record-breaking sixth Super Bowl title and first since the 1994 season.

A magical season for the Lions ended in heartbreak. Detroit remains the only team to play every season of the Super Bowl era without reaching the ultimate game. It looked like this could be the year to end the drought, as Detroit won back-to-back playoff games after winning just one in the previous 56 seasons.

But the Lions couldn’t finish the job despite leading 24-7 at halftime.

San Francisco settled for a field goal on the opening drive of the second half before completely turning the game around within four minutes.

Detroit coach Dan Campbell opted to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the San Francisco 28, but Josh Reynolds couldn’t latch on to a pass from Jared Goff, leading to a turnover on downs.

The Lions then looked to have a potential interception when Purdy’s deep pass hit Kindle Vildor in the facemask, but the ball popped up and was caught for a spectacular 51-yard gain by Aiyuk. Purdy found Aiyuk three plays later for a six-yard score.

“Before the match a ladybug landed on my shoe. And you all know what that means,” Aiyuk said. “That’s all I can say. Other than that I don’t know.”

Jahmyr Gibbs then fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, setting up a one-yard run by McCaffrey to tie the game at 24-24.

Things only got worse for the Lions from there, with Reynolds again dropping a pass on third down, leading to a punt that Detroit had a chance to down at the one-yard line, but failed.

Purdy then drove the Niners to a 33-yard field goal by Jake Moody and their first lead of the game.

Campbell sidestepped a chance to tie the game on fourth-and-3 from the Niners’ 30 midway through the fourth quarter. Goff threw an incomplete pass and the Niners drove to the insurance touchdown.

Goff added a TD pass to Jameson Williams with 56 seconds to play, but the 49ers recovered the onside kick to seal the victory. Goff finished 25 for 41 for 273 yards and a touchdown.