NFC Championship Game

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NFC Championship Game
NFC Championship Game logo
NFC Championship logo
First played 1970
Trophy George Halas

Recent and upcoming games
2015 season
Bank of America Stadium
January 24, 2016
Arizona Cardinals 15, Carolina Panthers 49

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. 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.

History[edit]

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.[1] 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.

Playoff structure[edit]

NFC Championship Game logo, 2008–2010 (Used with old shield since 2005)
For more details on this topic, see National Football League playoffs.

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[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]

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[edit]

Numbers in parentheses in the table are NFC Championships. Bold indicates team won Super Bowl that year.
Playoff Winning team Score Losing team Score Location Stadium
1970–71 Dallas Cowboys (1) 17 San Francisco 49ers 10 San Francisco, California Kezar Stadium [4]
1971–72 Dallas Cowboys (2) 14 San Francisco 49ers 3 Irving, Texas Texas Stadium
1972–73 Washington Redskins (1) 26 Dallas Cowboys 3 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium[5]
1973–74 Minnesota Vikings (1) 27 Dallas Cowboys 10 Irving, Texas Texas Stadium
1974–75 Minnesota Vikings (2) 14 Los Angeles Rams 10 Bloomington, Minnesota Metropolitan Stadium
1975–76 Dallas Cowboys (3) 37 Los Angeles Rams 7 Los Angeles, California Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum[6]
1976–77 Minnesota Vikings (3) 24 Los Angeles Rams 13 Bloomington, Minnesota Metropolitan Stadium
1977–78 Dallas Cowboys (4) 23 Minnesota Vikings 6 Irving, Texas Texas Stadium
1978–79 Dallas Cowboys (5) 28 Los Angeles Rams 0 Los Angeles, California Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
1979–80 Los Angeles Rams (1) 9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 Tampa, Florida Tampa Stadium
1980–81 Philadelphia Eagles (1) 20 Dallas Cowboys 7 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Veterans Stadium
1981–82 San Francisco 49ers (1) 28 Dallas Cowboys 27 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
1982–83 [7] Washington Redskins (2) 31 Dallas Cowboys 17 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium
1983–84 Washington Redskins (3) 24 San Francisco 49ers 21 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium
1984–85 San Francisco 49ers (2) 23 Chicago Bears 0 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
1985–86 Chicago Bears (1) 24 Los Angeles Rams 0 Chicago, Illinois Soldier Field
1986–87 New York Giants (1) 17 Washington Redskins 0 East Rutherford, New Jersey Giants Stadium
1987–88 Washington Redskins (4) 17 Minnesota Vikings 10 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium
1988–89 San Francisco 49ers (3) 28 Chicago Bears 3 Chicago, Illinois Soldier Field
1989–90 San Francisco 49ers (4) 30 Los Angeles Rams 3 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
1990–91 New York Giants (2) 15 San Francisco 49ers 13 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
1991–92 Washington Redskins (5) 41 Detroit Lions 10 Washington, D.C. RFK Stadium
1992–93 Dallas Cowboys (6) 30 San Francisco 49ers 20 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
1993–94 Dallas Cowboys (7) 38 San Francisco 49ers 21 Irving, Texas Texas Stadium
1994–95 San Francisco 49ers (5) 38 Dallas Cowboys 28 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
1995–96 Dallas Cowboys (8) 38 Green Bay Packers 27 Irving, Texas Texas Stadium
1996–97 Green Bay Packers (1) 30 Carolina Panthers 13 Green Bay, Wisconsin Lambeau Field
1997–98 Green Bay Packers (2) 23 San Francisco 49ers 10 San Francisco, California 3Com Park
1998–99 Atlanta Falcons (1) 30a[›] Minnesota Vikings 27 Minneapolis, Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
1999–00 St. Louis Rams (2) 11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 St. Louis, Missouri Trans World Dome
2000–01 New York Giants (3) 41 Minnesota Vikings 0 East Rutherford, New Jersey Giants Stadium
2001–02 St. Louis Rams (3) 29 Philadelphia Eagles 24 St. Louis, Missouri Edward Jones Dome
2002–03 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1) 27 Philadelphia Eagles 10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Veterans Stadium
2003–04 Carolina Panthers (1) 14 Philadelphia Eagles 3 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Lincoln Financial Field
2004–05 Philadelphia Eagles (2) 27 Atlanta Falcons 10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Lincoln Financial Field
2005–06 Seattle Seahawks (1) 34 Carolina Panthers 14 Seattle, Washington Qwest Field
2006–07 Chicago Bears (2) 39 New Orleans Saints 14 Chicago, Illinois Soldier Field
2007–08 New York Giants (4) 23a[›] Green Bay Packers 20 Green Bay, Wisconsin Lambeau Field
2008–09 Arizona Cardinals (1) 32 Philadelphia Eagles 25 Glendale, Arizona University of Phoenix Stadium
2009–10 New Orleans Saints (1) 31a[›] Minnesota Vikings 28 New Orleans, Louisiana Louisiana Superdome
2010–11 Green Bay Packers (3) 21 Chicago Bears 14 Chicago, Illinois Soldier Field
2011–12 New York Giants (5) 20a[›] San Francisco 49ers 17 San Francisco, California Candlestick Park
2012–13 San Francisco 49ers (6) 28 Atlanta Falcons 24 Atlanta, Georgia Georgia Dome
2013–14 Seattle Seahawks (2) 23 San Francisco 49ers 17 Seattle, Washington CenturyLink Field
2014–15 Seattle Seahawks (3) 28a[›] Green Bay Packers 22 Seattle, Washington CenturyLink Field
2015–16 Carolina Panthers (2) 49 Arizona Cardinals 15 Charlotte, North Carolina Bank of America Stadium

^ a: Overtime

NFC Championship Game appearances 1970–present[edit]

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
14 Dallas Cowboys 8 6 .571 317 264 1995 1995 5 4 1 .800 9 4 5 .444
9 Los Angeles/
St. Louis Rams
c[›]
3 6 .333 82 187 2001 2001 4 2 2 .500 5 1 4 .200
8 Minnesota Vikings 3 5 .375 136 175 2009 1976 3 2 1 .667 5 1 4 .200
6 Washington Redskins 5 1 .833 139 78 1991 1991 5 5 0 1.000 1 0 1 .000
6 Philadelphia Eagles 2 4 .333 109 119 2008 2004 4 2 2 .500 2 0 2 .000
6 Green Bay Packers 3 3 .500 143 126 2014 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
5 Chicago Bears 2 3 .400 80 86 2010 2006 4 2 2 .500 1 0 1 .000
4 Carolina Panthers 2 2 .500 90 82 2015 2015 1 1 0 1.000 3 1 2 .333
3 Seattle Seahawksb[›] 3 0 1.000 85 53 2014 2014 3 3 0 1.000 0 0 0 —–
3 Atlanta Falcons 1 2 .333 64 82 2012 1998 1 0 1 .000 2 1 1 .500
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
2 Arizona Cardinals 1 1 .500 47 74 2015 2008 1 1 0 1.000 1 0 1 .000
1 Detroit Lions 0 1 .000 10 41 1991 N/A 0 0 0 —– 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[edit]

NFC Championship Game logo, 2001–2005
  • Most Victories: 8* – Dallas Cowboys (197071, 1975, 197778, 199293, 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, 19929394, 1997, 2011–1213)
  • Most Consecutive Appearances: 4 (tie, 2 teams, 3 times)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1970–1973)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1992–1995)
    • Philadelphia Eagles (200104)
  • Most Consecutive Victories: 2 – (tie, 6 teams, 8 times)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1970–71)
    • Minnesota Vikings (1973–74)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1977–78)
    • Washington Redskins (1982–83)
    • San Francisco 49ers (198889)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1992–93)
    • Green Bay Packers (199697)
    • Seattle Seahawks (2013–14)
  • 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)
    • Los Angeles Rams (1974–76)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1980–82)
    • Philadelphia Eagles (200103)
  • 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 24th 2016 - Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals (2015 - 2016 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)
  • 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
  • Longest drought without appearing in an NFC Championship Game: 23 years
    • Detroit Lions (last appearance – 1991)
    • Washington Redskins (last appearance – 1991)
  • 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
    • 1998 Atlanta Falcons 30 Minnesota Vikings 27
    • 2007 New York Giants 23 Green Bay Packers 20
    • 2009 New Orleans Saints 31 Minnesota Vikings 28
    • 2011 New York Giants 20 San Francisco 49ers 17
    • 2014 Seattle Seahawks 28 Green Bay Packers 22

*Tied for Conference Championship record

^ **: Conference Championship record
^ ***: Lions most recently won the NFL Championship in 1957 - pre–Super Bowl Era

TV Ratings[edit]

  • 2006: 35.233 million viewers; Post Gun: 24.641 million; Post Game: 15.279 million
  • 2007: million viewers; Post Game: million [1] [2]
  • 2008: million viewers; Post Game: million [3]
  • 2009: million viewers; Post Game: 23.83 million (10:27pm–11:02pm) [4]
  • 2010: 57.9 million viewers [5]
  • 2011: 51.9 million viewers;
  • 2012: 57.6 million viewers [6]; Post Game: million [7]
  • 2013: 42.0 million viewers; Post Game: million [8]
  • 2014: 55.91 million viewers(peak: 66.3 million viewers); (6:42-9:59pm); Post Game (9:55-9:59pm): 44.903 million [9]; The OT (9:59-10:19pm): 30.339 million viewers [10] [11] [12]
  • 2015: 49.8 million viewers (peak: 60.5 million viewers); The OT: 16.280 million viewers (6:40-7:06pm)[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Playoff Games". NFL Record and Fact Book 2009. Time, Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 978-1-60320-809-3. 
  2. ^ "NFC’s Halas trophy has new look". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  3. ^ Bell, Jarrett (January 25, 2011). "NFL Replay: Gritty Steelers aren't pretty, but they are Super". USA Today. 
  4. ^ Last NFL Game in Kezar Stadium.
  5. ^ These 1972 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever NFC wild card franchise to advance to the Conference championship game.
  6. ^ These 1975 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever wild card franchise to advance to the Super Bowl.
  7. ^ played on Saturday