January 20, 1991: The San Francisco 49ers were denied a chance to become the first NFL team to three-peat when the New York Giants stunned them on a last-second field goal to win the 1990 NFC Championship, 15-13.
The two-time defending Super Bowl champion 49ers were 14-2 in the regular season, including a 7-3 win over the Giants (13-3) a month before to set up homefield advantage for the championship. It was an epic matchup that featured several Hall of Famers on both teams.
The game lived up to the hype. After being tied 6-6 at halftime, less than five minutes into the third quarter 49ers quarterback Joe Montana threw a 61-yard touchdown to John Taylor to give the 49ers a 13–6 lead. New York would cut it to 13-9 to close the third quarter. Then with 9:42 left in the game, Giants defensive lineman KOd Montana with a brutal hit that left him writhing in pain on the field. Montana suffered a bruised sternum, bruised stomach, cracked ribs and a broken hand.
But even with Montana out, the 49ers clang to a 13-12 lead late in the game and were relying on the legs of running back Roger Craig. With San Francisco trying to run out the clock, and a fresh set of downs on the Giants side of the field, it appeared the 49ers were heading to a third straight Super Bowl, but nose tackle Erik Howard split the defense and got his helmet on the ball. Craig fumbled, and linebacker Lawrence Taylor recovered.
The Giants drove to the 49ers 25-yard line and kicker Matt Bahr forever haunted 49ers fan with a field goal as time expired.
The Giants would go on to be the beneficiaries of a last-second missed field goal to win Super Bowl XXV, 20-19, over the Buffalo Bills. The 49ers would go on to wonder what if, and the franchise was forever changed as Montana would only play one more game with the team over a year later after recovering from all his injuries.
The 1990 NFC championship forever changed two franchises and the balance of power in the NFC. Here's to you New York Giants and your win.