The NFC Championship Game is the annual championship game of the National Football Conference (NFC) and one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the world. The game is played on the last Sunday in January by the two remaining playoff teams, following the NFC postseason's first two rounds. The NFC champion then advances to face the winner of the AFC Championship Game in the Super Bowl.
|First played||1971 (1970 season)|
|Trophy||George Halas Trophy|
|Recent and upcoming games|
Los Angeles, California
January 30, 2022
San Francisco 49ers 17
Los Angeles Rams 20
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 Chicago Bears, George Halas.
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. Since the pre-merger NFL consisted of six more teams than the AFL (16 teams for the NFL and 10 for 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 or host an NFC Championship Game. The San Francisco 49ers have the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game at 17, and have hosted the most at 10. The Dallas Cowboys have won the most NFC Championships at 8.
The Los Angeles Rams and the Minnesota Vikings are the only two NFC teams to appear in at least one NFC Championship game in every decade since 1970.
The structure of the NFL playoffs has changed several times since 1970. At the end of each regular season, the top teams in the NFC qualify for the postseason, including all division champions (three division winners from the 1970–71 to 2001–02 seasons; four since the 2002–03 season) and a set number of "wild card" teams that possess the two best win–loss records after the regular season yet fail to win their division (one wild card team from the 1970–71 to 1977–78 seasons; two wild cards from 1978–79 to 1989–90, and from 2002–03 to 2019–20; three from 1990–91 to 2001–02, and since 2020–21). The two teams remaining following the Wild Card round (first round) and the divisional round (second round) play in the NFC Championship Game, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl.
Initially, the site of the NFC Championship Game was determined on a rotating basis.: 10 Since the 1975–76 season, the site of the game 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; such an instance has yet to occur in the NFL.
George Halas TrophyEdit
|The George Halas Trophy is held by a member of the media during the NFC Championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. Getty Images. January 21, 2017.|
|The (former version of the) George Halas Trophy sits on a table at the Hyatt Union Station Hotel in St. Louis. UPI.com. January 25, 2002.|
Beginning with the 1984–85 NFL playoffs, 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. 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.
The George Halas Trophy should not be confused with the Newspaper Enterprise Association's George 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 GamesEdit
- 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.
^ a: Overtime
|#||Team||W||L||%||PF||PA||Last game||Last win||Home games||Home wins||Home losses||Home win %||Away games||Away wins||Away losses||Away win %|
|17||San Francisco 49ers||7||10||.412||361||329||2021||2019||10||5||5||.500||7||2||5||.286|
|11||Los Angeles Rams[b]||5||6||.455||128||227||2021||2021||5||3||2||.600||6||2||4||.333|
|9||Green Bay Packers||3||6||.333||184||207||2020||2010||3||1||2||.333||6||2||4||.333|
|5||New York Giants||5||0||1.000||116||50||2011||2011||2||2||0||1.000||3||3||0||1.000|
|4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||2||.500||64||56||2020||2020||1||0||1||.000||3||2||1||.667|
|3||New Orleans Saints||1||2||.333||68||93||2018||2009||2||1||1||.500||1||0||1||.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 to 2001, before rejoining the NFC in 2002. Including their only appearance (1983) in the AFC Championship Game (0–1), they hold a combined 3–1 record between both Conference Championship Games.
Appearances by yearEdit
In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of appearances, then by number of wins, and finally by year of first appearance. In the "Season(s)" column, bold years indicate winning Conference Championship appearances.
Most common matchupsEdit
|6||Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers||Cowboys, 4–2||1970, 1971, 1981, 1992, 1993, 1994|
|2||Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins||Washington, 2–0||1972, 1982|
|2||Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings||Tie, 1–1||1973, 1977|
|2||Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings||Vikings, 2–0||1974, 1976|
|2||Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams||Cowboys, 2–0||1975, 1978|
|2||Los Angeles / St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Rams, 2–0||1979, 1999|
|2||Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers||49ers, 2–0||1984, 1988|
|2||Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers||Tie, 1–1||1989, 2021|
|2||New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers||Giants, 2–0||1990, 2011|
|2||Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers||Tie, 1–1||1997, 2019|
NFC Championship Game recordsEdit
- Most victories: 8 – Dallas Cowboys (1970–1971, 1975, 1977–1978, 1992–1993, 1995)
- Most losses: 10** – San Francisco 49ers (1970–1971, 1983, 1990, 1992–1993, 1997, 2011, 2013, 2021)
- Most appearances: 17 – San Francisco 49ers (1970–1971, 1981, 1983–1984, 1988–1990, 1992–1994, 1997, 2011–2013, 2019, 2021)
- Most consecutive appearances: 4 (tie, 2 teams, 3 times)
- Most consecutive victories: 2 – (tie, 6 teams, 8 times)
- 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 appearances 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)
- Most games hosted: 10 – San Francisco 49ers (1970, 1981, 1984, 1989–1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2011, 2019)
- Most consecutive games hosted: 3; – Philadelphia Eagles (2002–2004)
- 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, either team: 0*; (tie, 5 teams, 6 times)
- Los Angeles Rams 0 vs Dallas Cowboys 28 January 7, 1979
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 vs Los Angeles Rams 9 January 6, 1980
- Chicago Bears 0 vs San Francisco 49ers 23 January 6, 1985
- Los Angeles Rams 0 vs Chicago Bears 24 January 12, 1986
- Washington Redskins 0 vs New York Giants 17 January 11, 1987
- Minnesota Vikings 0 vs New York Giants 41 January 14, 2001
- 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 hosted an NFC Championship Game:
- Current teams which have never won an NFC Championship:
- Detroit Lions (0–1)[fn 8]
- Longest drought without appearing in an NFC Championship Game: 29 years
- Longest drought without an NFC Championship: 51 years***; Detroit Lions
- Largest comeback: 17 points (trailed 17–0; won 28–24), San Francisco 49ers, 2012
- Overtime games:
- *Tied for Conference Championship record
- ^ **: Conference Championship record
- 2006: 35.233 million viewers
- 2010: 57.9 million viewers
- 2011: 51.9 million viewers
- 2012: 57.6 million viewers
- 2013: 42.0 million viewers
- 2014: 55.91 million viewers
- 2015: 49.8 million viewers
- This was the final NFL game played at Kezar Stadium.
- The 1972 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever NFC wild card franchise to advance to the Conference championship game.
- The 1975 Dallas Cowboys were the first ever wild card franchise to advance to the Super Bowl.
- played on Saturday
- This was the final NFL game played at Veterans Stadium.
- This was the final NFL game played at the Georgia Dome.
- This was the first Championship Game in either conference to be played at the same stadium of that season's Super Bowl.
- The Lions last hosted and won the 1957 NFL Championship Game during the pre-Super Bowl era.
- Time Almanac 2004
- "Playoff Games". NFL Record and Fact Book 2009. Time, Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 978-1-60320-809-3.
- Urena, I., Pro Football Schedules: A Complete Historical Guide from 1933 to the Present (Jefferson, NC & London: McFarland & Company, 2014), p. 10.
- "NFC's Halas trophy has new look". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Bell, Jarrett (January 25, 2011). "NFL Replay: Gritty Steelers aren't pretty, but they are Super". USA Today.