NFC Championship Game
NFC Championship logo
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January 24, 2016
Arizona Cardinals 15, Carolina Panthers 49
January 22, 2017
Green Bay Packers 21, Atlanta Falcons 44
The National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game (also unofficially referred to as the NFC Title Game) is one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January and determines the champion of the National Football Conference (NFC). The winner then advances to face the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game in the Super Bowl.
The game was established as part of the 1970 merger between the NFL and the American Football League (AFL), with the merged league realigning into two conferences. Since 1984, each winner of the NFC Championship Game has also received the George Halas Trophy, named after the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Chicago Bears, George Halas.
The first NFC Championship Game was played following the 1970 regular season after the merger between the NFL and the American Football League. The game is considered the successor to the original NFL Championship, and its game results are listed with that of its predecessor in the annual NFL Record and Fact Book. Since the pre-merger NFL consisted of six more teams than the AFL, a realignment was done as part of the merger to create two conferences with an equal number of teams: The NFL's Baltimore Colts, the Cleveland Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers joined the ten former AFL teams to form the AFC; while the remaining 13 pre-merger NFL clubs formed the NFC.
Every NFC team has played in an NFC Championship at least once. The Seattle Seahawks, who have been members in both the AFC and the NFC, hold the distinction of appearing in both conference title games. Only the Detroit Lions have yet to win an NFC Championship Game.
For the first time in the history of either Championship game, the NFC saw 10 different winners in as many years between 2001 and 2010. The trend ended when the New York Giants won the 2011 NFC Championship game.
At the end of each regular season, a series of playoff games involving the top six teams in the NFC are conducted. In the current (since 2002–03 season) NFL playoff structure, this consists of the four division champions and two wild card teams (those clubs that possess the two best won-loss records after the regular season yet fail to win their division). The two teams remaining following the Wild Card round (first round) and the divisional round (second round) play in the NFC Championship game.
Initially, the site of the game was determined on a rotating basis. Since the 1975–76 season, the site of the NFC Championship has been based on playoff seeding based on the regular season won-loss record, with the highest surviving seed hosting the game. A wild card team can only host the game if both participants are wild cards, in which case the fifth seed would host the sixth seed. Such an instance has never occurred in the NFL.
George Halas Trophy
Beginning with 1984-85 season, the winner of the NFC Championship Game has received the George Halas Trophy, named after the longtime owner and coach of the Chicago Bears, a charter member of the NFL. The original design consisted of a wooden base with a sculpted NFC logo in the front and a sculpture of various football players in the back.
It, and the Lamar Hunt Trophy that is awarded to the AFC champion, were redesigned for the 2010–11 NFL playoffs by Tiffany & Co. at the request of the NFL in an attempt to make both awards more significant. The trophies are now a new, silver design with the outline of a hollow football positioned on a small base to more closely resemble the Vince Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl.
The George Halas Trophy should not be confused with the Newspaper Enterprise Association's George S. Halas Trophy which was awarded to the NFL's defensive player of the year from 1966 to 1996 or the Pro Football Writers Association's George S. Halas Courage Award.
List of NFC Championship Games
- Numbers in parentheses in the winning team column are NFC Championships won by that team. Bold indicates team won Super Bowl that year.
- Numbers in parentheses in the city and stadium column is the amount of times that metropolitan area and stadium has hosted a NFC Championship, respectively.
^ a: Overtime
NFC Championship Game appearances 1970–present
|Num||Team||W||L||PCT||PF||PA||Last appearance||Last championship||HOME games||Home wins||Home losses||Home Win Pct.||ROAD games||Road wins||Road losses||Road Win Pct.|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||6||9||.400||307||289||2013||2012||9||4||5||.444||6||2||4||.333|
St. Louis Ramsc[›]
|7||Green Bay Packers||3||4||.500||143||126||2016||2010||2||1||1||.500||4||2||2||.500|
|5||New York Giants||5||0||1.000||116||50||2011||2011||2||2||0||1.000||3||3||0||1.000|
|3||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||2||.333||33||30||2002||2002||1||0||1||.000||2||1||1||.500|
|2||New Orleans Saints||1||1||.500||45||67||2009||2009||1||1||0||1.000||1||0||1||.000|
^ b: The Seahawks were members of the NFC in 1976 and then members of the AFC from 1977–2001, before rejoining the NFC in 2002. Including their only appearance in the AFC Championship Game (0–1), they hold a combined 3–1 record between both Conference Championship Games.
^ c: Includes appearances during their first tenure in Los Angeles (the 1970 merger to 1994), where they went 1–6 in NFC Championship Games; and their period as the St. Louis Rams (1995–2015), where they went 2–0 in NFC Championship Games.
NFC Championship Game records
- Most Victories: 8 – Dallas Cowboys (1970–71, 1975, 1977–78, 1992–93, 1995)
- Most Losses: 9** – San Francisco 49ers (1970–71, 1983, 1990, 1992–93, 1997, 2011, 2013)
- Most Appearances: 15 – San Francisco 49ers (1970–71, 1981, 1983–84, 1988–90, 1992–93–94, 1997, 2011–12–13)
- Most Consecutive Appearances: 4 (tie, 2 teams, 3 times)
- Most Consecutive Victories: 2 – (tie, 6 teams, 8 times)
- Most Victories Without a Loss: 5** – New York Giants (1986, 1990, 2000, 2007, 2011)
- Most Appearances Without A Win: 1 – Detroit Lions (1991)
- Most Defensive Shutouts – 2**; – New York Giants (Jan 11, 1987, 17–0 vs Redskins & Jan 14, 2001, 41–0 vs Vikings)
- Most Times Shut Out –2**; – Los Angeles Rams (Jan 7, 1979, 0–28 vs Cowboys & Jan 12, 1986, 0–24 vs Bears)
- Most Consecutive Losses: 3* – (tie, 3 times)
- Most Games Hosted: 9 – San Francisco 49ers (1970, 1981, 1984, 1989–90, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2011)
- Most numerous matchup: 6** – Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers (1970–1971, 1981, 1992–1994)
- Most points scored: 49 points – January 24, 2016 – Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals (2015 season)
- Largest margin of victory: 41 points – January 14, 2001 (2000 season), New York Giants (41) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0)
- Closest margin of victory: 1 point – San Francisco 49ers (28) vs. Dallas Cowboys (27), 1981 NFC Championship Game**
- Fewest points scored, winning team: 9**[›]; January 6, 1980 (1979 season) – Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Fewest points scored – 0*; (tie, 5 teams, 6 times)
- Los Angeles Rams 0 vs Dallas Cowboys 28 January 7, 1979
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 vs Los Angeles Rams 9 January 6, 1980
- Chicago Bears 0 vs San Francisco 49ers 23 January 6, 1985
- Los Angeles Rams 0 vs Chicago Bears 24 January 12, 1986
- Washington Redskins 0 vs New York Giants 17 January 11, 1987
- Minnesota Vikings 0 vs New York Giants 41 January 14, 2001
- Most points scored, losing team: 28 (tie); January 15, 1995 (1994 season) – Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers, January 24, 2010 (2009 season) – Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints
- Most combined points scored: 66; January 15, 1995 (1994 season) – San Francisco 49ers (38) vs. Dallas Cowboys (28)
- Fewest combined points scored: 9**; January 6, 1980 (1979 season) – Los Angeles Rams (9) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0)
- Longest game: 71 minutes, 52 seconds**; January 17, 1999 (1998 season) – Atlanta Falcons (30) @ Minnesota Vikings (27), OT
- Most NFC Championships won in overtime: 2** – New York Giants (2007, 2011)
- Most NFC Championships lost in overtime: 2* (tie) – Green Bay Packers (2007, 2014) Minnesota Vikings (1998, 2009)
- Current teams which have never won an NFC Championship
- Detroit Lions (0–1)***
- Longest drought without appearing in an NFC Championship Game: 23 years
- Longest drought without an NFC Championship: 45 years***; Detroit Lions
- Largest comeback: 17 points (trailed 17–0; won 28–24), San Francisco 49ers, 2012
- Overtime games
*Tied for Conference Championship record
- 2006: 35.233 million viewers; Post Gun: 24.641 million; Post Game: 15.279 million
- 2007: million viewers; Post Game: million  
- 2008: million viewers; Post Game: million 
- 2009: million viewers; Post Game: 23.83 million (10:27pm–11:02pm) 
- 2010: 57.9 million viewers 
- 2011: 51.9 million viewers;
- 2012: 57.6 million viewers ; Post Game: million 
- 2013: 42.0 million viewers; Post Game: million 
- 2014: 55.91 million viewers(peak: 66.3 million viewers); (6:42-9:59pm); Post Game (9:55-9:59pm): 44.903 million ; The OT (9:59-10:19pm): 30.339 million viewers   
- 2015: 49.8 million viewers (peak: 60.5 million viewers); The OT: 16.280 million viewers (6:40-7:06pm)
- Time Almanac 2004
- "Playoff Games". NFL Record and Fact Book 2009. Time, Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 978-1-60320-809-3.
- "NFC's Halas trophy has new look". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Bell, Jarrett (January 25, 2011). "NFL Replay: Gritty Steelers aren't pretty, but they are Super". USA Today.
- Last NFL Game in Kezar Stadium.
- These 1972 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever NFC wild card franchise to advance to the Conference championship game.
- The 1975 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever wild card franchise to advance to the Super Bowl.
- played on Saturday