49ers Overcome Largest Halftime Deficit to Punch Super Bowl Ticket
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Pictured: Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers
The kneecap biting Lions took the fight to the 49ers off the bat, manhandling the 49ers to a 24-7 halftime lead.
San Francisco punched back, though, rallying for the biggest second-half comeback in conference championship game history. The Niners became the first team to comeback from down 17 or more at halftime in a 34-24 victory to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Now the 49ers return to the Super Bowl looking for revenge over the very same Chiefs team who defeated them 31-20 four years ago in Super Bowl LIV.
San Francisco closed as 7.5-point favorites over Detroit, but had quite an uphill climb to pull off the comeback. The Lions were up 14-0 after the first 15 minutes of action, and were a perfect 10-0 when leading after the first this season. Things got even more dire after a late Michael Badgley field goal sent Detroit into halftime with a 17-point lead. However, the 49ers outscored Detroit 27-7 over the final three quarters for an emotional comeback in front of their home crowd.
Jake Moody drilled a 43-yard field goal on their first drive, making it a two-score game. The Lions picked up where they left off, though, easily marching down the into San Francisco territory. However, the 49ers’ defense came up huge, forcing a turnover on downs with a key 4th-and-2 stop.
Brock Purdy connected with Brandon Aiyuk on a 51-yard completion on a ball that ricocheted off a Lions’ helmet, setting San Francisco up at four-yard line. Three plays later Purdy found Aiyuk again for six.
San Francisco punched the ball out of Jahmyr Gibbs’ hands on the Lions first snap of the ensuing drive. They capitalized with Christian McCaffrey’s second TD of the day, knotting the score at 24-24. The 49ers forced a three-and-out, and then took their first lead of the day on a Moody 33-yard field goal.
The Niners' defense had it's second huge fourth-down stop in their own territory on the next drive, and made it a 10-point lead on an Elijah Mitchell three-yard TD plunge with 3:02 left in the game. The deficit proved too much for the Lions to overcome as San Francisco secured the greatest second-half comeback in conference game history.
The 49ers entered the playoffs as the favorite to win it all at -250. However, that hasn’t necessarily been a recipe for success. Only five favorites since 2000 have won the championship – the 2022 Chiefs, 2016 Patriots, 2023 Seahawks, 2004 Patriots and 2003 Patriots. They’ve opened as 1.5-point favorites over Kansas City, who’s playing in its fourth Super Bowl in five years.