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NFC Championship Game review: San Francisco 49ers rally to crush Detroit Lions' dreams

The San Francisco 49ers booked their place in the NFL Championship after a stunning second-half comeback saw them beat the Detroit Lions 34-31.

Kyle Shanahan's team looked to be crumbling under pressure on home soil at Levi's Stadium, but they used their superior experience at the highest level to book their place in the showpiece in February, where they will face defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mistakes cost Detroit dear

The Detroit Lions' wait to play in the NFL Championship goes on after Dan Campbell's team fell at the final hurdle after an incredible season.

Lions fans have been used to endless disappointment, but even they would have been forgiven for dreaming of glory at half-time.

Detroit led 24-7 at the break, but errors and overly aggressive coaching decisions eventually came back to bite them.

Rushing touchdowns from Jameson Williams, David Montgomery and Jahymr Gibbs helped them race into the lead, with 49ers running-back Christian McCaffrey replying for the hosts.

Their advantage was wiped out in just eight second-half minutes, with Brandon Aiyuk catching a Brock Purdy pass before McCaffrey burst through the Lions' defense to score his 25th touchdown of the season.

A field goal from 49ers kicker Jake Moody and another rushing touchdown from Elijah Mitchell ensured Shanahan's team scored 27 unanswered points.

Williams scored another late touchdown for Detroit, but it was a little too late in the end. The 49ers scored 17 points in the third quarter, the worst point differential in a quarter this season for the Lions, and individual errors cost Detroit a place in the NFL Championship.

Gibbs fumbled with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter, while the Lions dropped three passes in the second half. Campbell also decided to go for glory when the Lions were on fourth-and-2, with 7:03 in the third quarter, only for Jared Goff's pass to fall incomplete when he targeted Josh Reynolds.

Had the Lions kicked a field goal, they could now be celebrating their place in the final game, but Campbell says he has no regrets about his decision.

"It's easy hindsight. I get it. I get that, but I don't regret those decisions, and it's hard," Campbell said. "It's hard because we didn't come through, and it wasn't able to work out, but I don't. And I understand the scrutiny I'll get - that's part of the gig - but it just didn't work out.

"Look, I told those guys this may have been our only shot. Do I think that? No. Do I believe that? No. However, I know how hard it is to get here. I'm well aware. It's going to be twice as hard to get back to this point next year than it was this year.

"Everybody's going to want a piece of you, which is fine. So, it's hard. You want to make the most of every opportunity, and we had an opportunity - and we just couldn't close it out, and it stings."

Purdy produces to take conference crown

The 49ers reached another NFL Championship, and they can thank their quarterback, Purdy, for their revival in the NFC Championship encounter.

During the regular campaign, Purdy was not credited with a single fourth-quarter comeback or a game-winning drive, but in both playoff games, he has had his say.

Purdy was struggling to push the ball downfield in the first half, while he was also intercepted.

"Mr. Irrelevant" showed no signs of panic, though, and he benefitted a touch of good fortune for his touchdown pass to Aiyuk. In the build-up to it, Purdy put too much power on a deep ball to Aiyuk, but Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor slipped as he tried to intercept it.

The ball ricocheted off Vildor and into the hands of Aiyuk, who then caught a touchdown pass from Purdy three plays later.

San Francisco capitalized on every shift of momentum with devastating effect, and Purdy was the leader of the group, shifting out of trouble to take his team downfield.

He completed 20 of 31 passes for 267 yards and a quarterback rating of 88.1 and Purdy will now try to lead his team to glory, where he may finally get the respect he deserves.

The 49ers are -120 money line in the NFL Championship, and they are -1.5 favorites.

Purdy is +225 to be named the NFL Championship MVP, and it promises to be a fascinating battle between the 49ers and the Chiefs in Las Vegas in February.

Any odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.

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