49ers come back from 17 points down to beat Lions, will face Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII - Yahoo Sports (2024)

The Detroit Lions led by 14 points midway through the third quarter when head coach Dan Campbell decided to go for it on fourth down instead of trying a field goal. The Lions had completely outplayed the San Francisco 49ers to that point. There shouldn't have been cause for panic when the Lions threw incomplete on fourth-and-2.

But at that moment, hearts had to drop around Michigan. This is the Lions, after all. They have never made it to the Super Bowl.

Sure enough, the NFC championship game was never the same after that. There was a miracle catch to set up one 49ers touchdown and a fumble by Detroit to set up another. The Lions, who led 24-7 at the half, saw the 49ers rally for a massive comeback, and Detroit lost its chance to go to the first Super Bowl in team history with a 34-31 loss. The 49ers will play the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

Campbell goes for it on fourth down more than any other coach. He went for it later in the game, too, passing on a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. That time, the 49ers' defense caused an incompletion. San Francisco scored after that to all but seal the win, though the 49ers still had to recover an onside kick in the final minute. The two field goals the Lions passed on will haunt them this offseason.


(via @NFL)


— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 29, 2024

The 17-point comeback tied for the largest ever in an NFC championship game and will go down in the 49ers' rich history. Their fans will forever watch Brandon Aiyuk's incredible catch and other highlights, including a few huge Brock Purdy scrambles.

Lions fans will watch those same highlights for years to come. Just with much different feelings about them.

Lions have a huge 1st half

If the Lions were nervous coming in, carrying the weight of a city's long Super Bowl wait on their shoulders, they calmed themselves down immediately. Receiver Jameson Williams took an end-around, ran through some tackles and scored a 42-yard touchdown. Less than two minutes into the game, the Lions were on the board.

The rest of the half was mostly all Lions. The 49ers missed a field goal, and the Lions answered with another touchdown. They led 14-0 after one quarter. Purdy threw an interception, and the Lions turned that into a touchdown. They led 21-7 and tacked on a field goal in the final seconds of the half to make it 24-7.

The Lions came in as underdogs, but they didn't play like it in the first half. Their offense was moving the ball without much problem. The 49ers couldn't get Christian McCaffrey going on the ground, and the pass game didn't make up for it.

In NFC championship game history, only one team had come back to win after trailing by 17 points. It was the 49ers, who came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit against the Atlanta Falcons after the 2012 season.

For much of the game, it seemed like the Lions were having their day at long last. Then the momentum completely turned in a way you don't see that often.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

49ers record huge comeback

The 49ers got a field goal to start the second half, but their comeback really started on a fourth-down decision. Campbell likes to go for it on fourth down, and he did on fourth-and-2 instead of trying a 46-yard field goal early in the third quarter. Jared Goff's pass hit Josh Reynolds' hands, but he couldn't pull it in, and the 49ers took over.

The avalanche started then. Aiyuk made an unbelievable catch that bounced off Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor's facemask and into the hand of a diving Aiyuk for 51 yards to the Lions' 4-yard line. Aiyuk scored a touchdown three plays later. Then disaster really struck. Jahmyr Gibbs never got a handle on a handoff, and the 49ers ripped it out and recovered. Then McCaffrey scored to tie the game.

In eight minutes of game action, the 49ers went from trailing by 17 points to tying the game. All the work the Lions did before halftime was erased.

It only got worse for Detroit. Reynolds dropped another one, this one a much more egregious drop on third-and-10, and the Lions punted. The 49ers drove downfield and took their first lead of the game 27-24 on a field goal with 9:52 left.

Campbell gambled again after that. Instead of a 48-yard field goal, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-3. Goff didn't have anyone open, scrambled to his right and threw incomplete with 7:32 remaining. That made six points the Lions passed on to go for it on fourth down, and neither decision worked out.

Purdy had a huge run on third down for a first down, then McCaffrey had a long run to set up an Elijah Mitchell touchdown run with 3:02 left. That gave the 49ers a 10-point lead. The Lions moved downfield for a touchdown with 56 seconds left, but 49ers tight end George Kittle made a nice play to recover an onside kick, and that was it for Detroit.


(via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/p8QwRn4zSY

— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 29, 2024

The 49ers needed a huge rally to beat the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, and they needed another to win the NFC title. At least if they fall behind in the Super Bowl, they won't be too nervous. They're used to digging themselves out of a hole this postseason. That's why they're going to the Super Bowl.

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or emotions, but I can provide you with information related to the concepts mentioned in this article.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are a member of the National Football League (NFL) and compete in the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. The team was established in 1930 and has a long history in the NFL. The Lions have never made it to the Super Bowl, which is the championship game of the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California. They are also a member of the NFL and compete in the NFC West division. The 49ers have a rich history and have won multiple Super Bowl championships. They have a strong fan base and are known for their successful seasons.

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the NFL. It is the culmination of the NFL season and features the champions of the NFC and AFC conferences. The game is typically held on the first Sunday in February and is one of the most-watched television events in the United States. The Super Bowl is known for its halftime show, commercials, and the intense competition between the two teams vying for the championship.

Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell is the head coach of the Detroit Lions. He was hired in 2021 and is known for his aggressive coaching style. In the article, it is mentioned that Campbell made some bold decisions during the game, such as going for it on fourth down instead of attempting a field goal.

Fourth Down

In American football, a team has four downs (or attempts) to advance the ball at least 10 yards. If they are successful, they are awarded a new set of downs. If they fail to advance the ball 10 yards within four downs, the opposing team takes possession of the ball. Going for it on fourth down instead of punting or attempting a field goal is a risky decision that teams sometimes make when they believe they have a better chance of converting the fourth down and keeping their offensive drive alive.


A comeback in sports refers to a situation where a team overcomes a significant deficit to win or tie the game. In the article, it is mentioned that the San Francisco 49ers made a massive comeback after trailing the Detroit Lions by 17 points. This comeback allowed the 49ers to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl.

AFC and NFC Championship Games

The AFC and NFC Championship Games are the final playoff games in the NFL before the Super Bowl. The winners of these games represent their respective conferences in the Super Bowl. The AFC Championship Game features the champions of the AFC, while the NFC Championship Game features the champions of the NFC.

I hope this information helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can assist you with.

49ers come back from 17 points down to beat Lions, will face Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII - Yahoo Sports (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated:

Views: 6323

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.