The 49ers defeated the Cowboys in a hard-nosed defensive battle to reach the NFC Championship Game

Santa Clara, Calif. — Christian McCaffrey scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter and San Francisco’s defense did the rest, sending the 49ers to their second straight NFC title game with a 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. . on Sunday.

The 49ers (15-4) used back-to-back long scoring drives in the second half to beat the Cowboys (13-6) and win their 12th straight game. San Francisco advanced to play the Eagles in the NFC title game next Sunday in Philadelphia after losing to the Rams in that round a year ago.

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“Man, we’re just excited that we won,” the rookie 49ers quarterback Brooke Purdy said. “Everybody did their part. It’s playoff football, it’s never easy, but we’re moving forward.

The Cowboys lost in the divisional round for the seventh straight time and failed to make it to the NFC title game since winning their fifth Super Bowl title following the 1995 season.

Doc Prescott Threw two interceptions and Brett Maher missed his fifth extra point of the postseason when his attempt was blocked. He later made two field goals.

The Cowboys had a shot when they took over at their own 18 with 2:59 remaining, trailing 19-12 when their fourth field goal of the game capped a nearly eight-minute drive.

But Prescott threw two straight incompletions and was sacked on third down. Coach Mike McCarthy elected to punt on fourth-and-10 with three timeouts.

Purdy started the next drive with a 16-yard completion. George Cuttle And San Francisco didn’t give Dallas the ball back until 45 seconds remained. The Cowboys took over at their 6 and never got closer from there.

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Purdy, the last pick in the draft last April, improved to 7-0 as a starter after replacing the injured Jimmy Garoppolo early in Week 13. He went 18-for-28 for 215 yards with no turnovers against the Cowboys, joining Flacco (2008). ) and Mark Sanchez (2009) as the only rookie QBs to win two playoff starts.

“Great. Brock Purdy is taking us to the NFC Championship Game? I mean, he’s just won I think seven in a row now. Good job, Brock,” Kittle said. “He’s playing at a high level, getting our best players the football, he’s very good and confident in the huddle. He’s just doing a great job.”

The 49ers took the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when McCaffrey capped a 91-yard drive with a 2-yard run.

That drive included a magical 30-yard catch by Kittle and a pair of defensive holds against Dallas — including a third-down sack on Donovan Wilson near the goal line.

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“I was like, you know what, how can I make it as dramatic as possible?” Kittal said of his brilliant catch. “Just shout out to Brock: I wasn’t even really in development and he still found me, so that’s all that matters. So I just appreciate him giving me a shot at catching the ball.

Maher made his second field goal of the game when he ran from 43 yards out to cut San Francisco’s lead to 16-12.

The NFL’s two highest-scoring teams over the past 13 weeks had trouble getting going as defenses led by San Francisco’s All-Pros Nick Bosa and Dallas’ Micah Parsons controlled the play.

The Niners picked off Prescott twice in the first half, converted Gould’s field goal and took a 9-6 lead into the break.

The Cowboys scored the only TD of the first half with Prescott connecting with tight end Dalton Schultz for the third time this postseason. But Maher’s low extra point attempt was blocked by Samson Ebokam.

Maher got some redemption when he made a 25-yard field goal that tied the game at 9 early in the third quarter after Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled a punt return at the San Francisco 21.

Just for kicks

The Cowboys’ decision to stick with Maher after he missed four extra points last week looked questionable when he missed the opening extra point. Maher’s five missed PATs are the second-most by any NFL kicker in the playoffs. Roy Garrella missed six of 43 attempts for Houston and Pittsburgh in the 1970s.

A dust-up pregame was done while the seal was warming up. Trent Williams and other 49ers players tried to interfere with San Francisco’s efforts from the sideline, prompting a brief argument.

Injuries

Cowboys: RB Tony Pollard left late in the first half after injuring his left ankle while tackling after a reception. He did not return to the game. … DT Kelvin Watkins (calf) left the first half.

49ers: DE Charles Omenihu (oblique) left briefly in the first half but returned to the game.

Next up

The 49ers would advance to their second Super Bowl in the last four seasons with a win in Philadelphia.

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