The San Francisco 49ers were on the ropes after getting down 17-0 6 seconds into the second quarter, but came back and held of the Atlanta Falcons to win and head to their sixth Super Bowl since the 1994-95 season with a 28-24 victory. The 49ers, who will play the winner of the AFC Championship between the Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots, are 5-0 in Super Bowl games.
The Falcons raced out to a quick 17-0 lead as Matt Ryan (21 for 29, 312 yards 3 touchdowns a QB rating of 127.4, but two costly turnovers with an interception and fumble) threw two touchdown passes to WR Julio Jones for 46 and 20 yards. These sandwiched the 35 yard field goal by Matt Bryant and after six second into the second quarter the Falcons held a commanding lead, but like last week QB Colin Kaepernick started to bring the team down the field.
San Francisco scored a pair of touchdowns by rookie LaMichael James (a 15 yard run) and TE Vernon Davis (4 yard touchdown reception) to bring them back to 17-14 with just under two minutes left in the first half, but Ryan stuck again with a TD pass to veteran TE Tony Gonzalez for 10 yards to put the Falcons up 24-14 going into the half.
The 49ers started the second half like they ended the first by going down the field as RB Frank Gore went in from 5 yards to cut the lead to 24-21.
The teams traded turnovers over the next couple of drives including one at the goal line as WR Michael Crabtree was stripped by CB Dunta Robinson and recovered by LB Stephen Nicholas as he tried to stretch over for a TD.
Finally the 49ers took the lead as Gore scored again from 9 yards out off right tackle putting SF up 28-24.
The Falcons started to drive for a winning touchdown as they got down to inside the SF 20 yard line, but a fourth down pass to Roddy White inside the 10 yard line was incomplete and the 49ers took over on downs.
After they could not get a first down, the 49ers punted it to the Falcons so they could attempt a desperation Hail Mary with six seconds left. Ryan, who had hurt his left shoulder on the failed fourth down play, could only muster a 24 yard pass to Jones, but the clock ran out on the Falcons as the 49ers started to celebrate.
Kaepernick, who last week was the focal point of the offense was more of a decoy this week in the running game (2 carries for 21 yards), but avoided mistakes and was efficient in the passing game going 13 for 18 with 188 yards, a touchdown and a QB Rating of 124.3. Most of the big plays went to TE Vernon Davis who caught 5 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. RB Frank Gore also chipped in with 57 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.