NFC Championship Game

NFC Championship Game
NFC Championship logo
First played 1971 (1970 season)
Trophy George Halas Trophy

Recent and upcoming games
2017 season
Lincoln Financial Field
January 21, 2018
Minnesota Vikings 7, Philadelphia Eagles 38
2018 season
TBD
January 20, 2019
TBD vs. TBD

The 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.

History

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.

Playoff structure

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.[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

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 number of times that metropolitan area and stadium has hosted a NFC Championship, respectively.
SeasonPlayoffsWinning teamScoreLosing teamScoreLocationStadium
19701970–71Dallas Cowboys (1)17San Francisco 49ers10San Francisco, CaliforniaKezar Stadium[4]
19711971–72Dallas Cowboys (2)14San Francisco 49ers3Irving, TexasTexas Stadium
19721972–73Washington Redskins (1)26Dallas Cowboys3Washington, D.C.RFK Stadium[5]
19731973–74Minnesota Vikings (1)27Dallas Cowboys10Irving, Texas (2)Texas Stadium (2)
19741974–75Minnesota Vikings (2)14Los Angeles Rams10Bloomington, MinnesotaMetropolitan Stadium
19751975–76Dallas Cowboys (3)37Los Angeles Rams7Los Angeles, CaliforniaLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum[6]
19761976–77Minnesota Vikings (3)24Los Angeles Rams13Bloomington, Minnesota (2)Metropolitan Stadium (2)
19771977–78Dallas Cowboys (4)23Minnesota Vikings6Irving, Texas (3)Texas Stadium (3)
19781978–79Dallas Cowboys (5)28Los Angeles Rams0Los Angeles, California (2)Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (2)
19791979–80Los Angeles Rams (1)9Tampa Bay Buccaneers0Tampa, FloridaTampa Stadium
19801980–81Philadelphia Eagles (1)20Dallas Cowboys7Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaVeterans Stadium
19811981–82San Francisco 49ers (1)28Dallas Cowboys27San Francisco, California (2)Candlestick Park
19821982–83 [7]Washington Redskins (2)31Dallas Cowboys17Washington, D.C. (2)RFK Stadium (2)
19831983–84Washington Redskins (3)24San Francisco 49ers21Washington, D.C. (3)RFK Stadium (3)
19841984–85San Francisco 49ers (2)23Chicago Bears0San Francisco, California (3)Candlestick Park (2)
19851985–86Chicago Bears (1)24Los Angeles Rams0Chicago, IllinoisSoldier Field
19861986–87New York Giants (1)17Washington Redskins0East Rutherford, New JerseyGiants Stadium
19871987–88Washington Redskins (4)17Minnesota Vikings10Washington, D.C. (4)RFK Stadium (4)
19881988–89San Francisco 49ers (3)28Chicago Bears3Chicago, Illinois (2)Soldier Field (2)
19891989–90San Francisco 49ers (4)30Los Angeles Rams3San Francisco, California (4)Candlestick Park (3)
19901990–91New York Giants (2)15San Francisco 49ers13San Francisco, California (5)Candlestick Park (4)
19911991–92Washington Redskins (5)41Detroit Lions10Washington, D.C. (5)RFK Stadium (5)
19921992–93Dallas Cowboys (6)30San Francisco 49ers20San Francisco, California (6)Candlestick Park (5)
19931993–94Dallas Cowboys (7)38San Francisco 49ers21Irving, Texas (4)Texas Stadium (4)
19941994–95San Francisco 49ers (5)38Dallas Cowboys28San Francisco, California (7)Candlestick Park (6)
19951995–96Dallas Cowboys (8)38Green Bay Packers27Irving, Texas (5)Texas Stadium (5)
19961996–97Green Bay Packers (1)30Carolina Panthers13Green Bay, WisconsinLambeau Field
19971997–98Green Bay Packers (2)23San Francisco 49ers10San Francisco, California (8)3Com Park (7)
19981998–99Atlanta Falcons (1)30a[]Minnesota Vikings27Minneapolis, Minnesota (3)Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
19991999–00St. Louis Rams (2)11Tampa Bay Buccaneers6St. Louis, MissouriTrans World Dome
20002000–01New York Giants (3)41Minnesota Vikings0East Rutherford, New Jersey (2)Giants Stadium (2)
20012001–02St. Louis Rams (3)29Philadelphia Eagles24St. Louis, Missouri (2)Edward Jones Dome (2)
20022002–03Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1)27Philadelphia Eagles10Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2)Veterans Stadium (2)[8]
20032003–04Carolina Panthers (1)14Philadelphia Eagles3Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (3)Lincoln Financial Field
20042004–05Philadelphia Eagles (2)27Atlanta Falcons10Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4)Lincoln Financial Field (2)
20052005–06Seattle Seahawks (1)34Carolina Panthers14Seattle, WashingtonQwest Field
20062006–07Chicago Bears (2)39New Orleans Saints14Chicago, Illinois (3)Soldier Field (3)
20072007–08New York Giants (4)23a[]Green Bay Packers20Green Bay, Wisconsin (2)Lambeau Field (2)
20082008–09Arizona Cardinals (1)32Philadelphia Eagles25Glendale, ArizonaUniversity of Phoenix Stadium
20092009–10New Orleans Saints (1)31a[]Minnesota Vikings28New Orleans, LouisianaLouisiana Superdome
20102010–11Green Bay Packers (3)21Chicago Bears14Chicago, Illinois (4)Soldier Field (4)
20112011–12New York Giants (5)20a[]San Francisco 49ers17San Francisco, California (9)Candlestick Park (8)
20122012–13San Francisco 49ers (6)28Atlanta Falcons24Atlanta, GeorgiaGeorgia Dome
20132013–14Seattle Seahawks (2)23San Francisco 49ers17Seattle, Washington (2)CenturyLink Field (2)
20142014–15Seattle Seahawks (3)28a[]Green Bay Packers22Seattle, Washington (3)CenturyLink Field (3)
20152015–16Carolina Panthers (2)49Arizona Cardinals15Charlotte, North CarolinaBank of America Stadium
20162016–17Atlanta Falcons (2)44Green Bay Packers21Atlanta, Georgia (2)Georgia Dome (2)[9]
20172017–18Philadelphia Eagles (3)38Minnesota Vikings7Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (5)Lincoln Financial Field (3)

^ a: Overtime

Appearances 1970–present

NumTeamWLPCTPFPALast appearanceLast championshipHome gamesHome winsHome lossesHome Win Pct.Away gamesAway winsAway lossesAway Win Pct.
14Dallas Cowboys86.57131726419951995541.800945.444
15San Francisco 49ers69.40030728920132012945.444624.333
6Washington Redskins51.83313978199119915501.000101.000
5New York Giants501.00011650201120112201.0003301.000
9Los Angeles/St. Louis Ramsb[]36.3338218720012001422.500514.200
9Minnesota Vikings36.33313617520171976321.667615.200
7Green Bay Packers34.42914312620162010211.500523.400
7Philadelphia Eagles34.42910911920172017532.600202.000
3Seattle Seahawksc[]301.0008553201420143301.000000—–
5Chicago Bears23.400808620102006422.500101.000
4Atlanta Falcons22.50010810320162016211.500211.500
4Carolina Panthers22.5009082201520151101.000312.333
3Tampa Bay Buccaneers12.333333020022002101.000211.500
2New Orleans Saints11.5004567200920091101.000101.000
2Arizona Cardinals11.5004774201520081101.000101.000
1Detroit Lions01.00010411991N/A000—–101.000

^ b: 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.

^ c: 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.

NFC Championship Game records

  • Most victories: 8 – Dallas Cowboys (19701971, 1975, 19771978, 19921993, 1995)
  • Most losses: 9** – San Francisco 49ers (1970–1971, 1983, 1990, 1992–1993, 1997, 2011, 2013)
  • Most appearances: 15 – San Francisco 49ers (1970–1971, 1981, 1983–1984, 1988–1990, 19921994, 1997, 2011–2013)
  • Most consecutive appearances: 4 (tie, 2 teams, 3 times)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1970–1973, 1992–1995)
    • Philadelphia Eagles (20012004)
  • Most consecutive victories: 2 – (tie, 6 teams, 8 times)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1970–1971, 1977–1978, 1992–1993)
    • Minnesota Vikings (1973–1974)
    • Washington Redskins (1982–1983)
    • San Francisco 49ers (19881989)
    • Green Bay Packers (19961997)
    • Seattle Seahawks (2013–2014)
  • Most victories without a loss: 5** – New York Giants (1986, 1990, 2000, 2007, 2011)
  • Most appearances without a win: 1 – Detroit Lions (1991)
  • Most consecutive losses without a win: 6 – Minnesota Vikings (1977, 1987, 1998, 2000, 2009, 2017)
  • Most defensive shutouts: 2**; – New York Giants (Jan 11, 1987, 17–0 vs Redskins and Jan 14, 2001, 41–0 vs Vikings)
  • Most times shut out: 2**; – Los Angeles Rams (Jan 7, 1979, 0–28 vs Cowboys and Jan 12, 1986, 0–24 vs Bears)
  • Most consecutive losses: 3* – (tie, 3 times)
    • Los Angeles Rams (1974–1976)
    • Dallas Cowboys (1980–1982)
    • Philadelphia Eagles (20012003)
  • Most games hosted: 9 – San Francisco 49ers (1970, 1981, 1984, 1989–1990, 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)
  • Largest margin of victory: 41 points – January 14, 2001 (2000), 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) – 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) – Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers, January 24, 2010 (2009) – Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
  • Most combined points scored: 66; January 15, 1995 (1994) – San Francisco 49ers (38) vs. Dallas Cowboys (28)
  • Fewest combined points scored: 9**; January 6, 1980 (1979) – Los Angeles Rams (9) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0)
  • Longest game: 71 minutes, 52 seconds**; January 17, 1999 (1998) – 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: 26 years
    • Detroit Lions (last appearance – 1991)
    • Washington Redskins (last appearance – 1991)
  • Longest drought without an NFC Championship: 48 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

Notes:

  • *Tied for Conference Championship record
  • ^ **: Conference Championship record
  • ^ ***: Lions most recently won the NFL Championship in 1957 – pre-Super Bowl era

TV ratings

  • 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)

References

  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. The 1972 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever NFC wild card franchise to advance to the Conference championship game.
  6. The 1975 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever wild card franchise to advance to the Super Bowl.
  7. played on Saturday
  8. Last NFL Game in Veterans Stadium.
  9. Last NFL Game in the Georgia Dome.
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