The Atlanta Falcons led the San Francisco 49ers 17-0 just seconds into the second quarter of the NFC Championship Game. They were still clinging to a 24-21 lead after three quarters.
The 49ers' comeback ranks among the most impressive in NFL postseason history. The 17-point deficit is the largest overcome in an NFC title game triumph and the second-largest margin overcome in any conference championship game. It is also the third-largest comeback for any road team in a playoff game.
While wide receiver Julio Jones did the heavy lifting (and security guard crushing) for the Falcons in the first half it was Frank Gore who carried the load in the second half for the 49ers. With help from two Matt Ryan turnovers, San Francisco's stout defense -- led by standout performances by linebackers Patrick Willis, Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman -- held Atlanta scoreless in the third and fourth quarters as Colin Kaepernick and Gore got to work.
Courtesy of The Associated Press, here are the five largest deficits overcome in a conference championship game:
The largest comebacks in a conference championship game (home team in CAPS):
18 — INDIANAPOLIS 38, New England 34, Jan. 21, 2007, AFC (trailed 21-3 in second quarter)
17 — San Francisco 28, ATLANTA 24, Jan. 20. 2013, NFC (trailed 17-0 in second quarter)
13 — Atlanta 30, MINNESOTA 27 (OT), Jan. 17, 1999, NFC (trailed 20-7 in second quarter)
11 — INDIANAPOLIS 30, N.Y. Jets 17, Jan. 24, 2010, AFC (trailed 17-6 in second quarter)
10 — DENVER 23, N.Y. Jets 10, Jan. 17, 1999, AFC (trailed 10-0 in third quarter)
10 — N.Y. GIANTS 30, Chicago Bears 13, Dec. 9, 1934, NFL (trailed 13-3 in fourth quarter)
10 — San Diego 17, PITTSBURGH 13, Jan. 15, 1995, AFC (trailed 13-3 in third quarter)