Winners, losers as 49ers stun Lions 34-31 in NFC Championship Game

San Francisco scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to make the Super Bowl.

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It was a tale of two halves.

The No. 1 San Francisco 49ers made a remarkable comeback to beat the No. 3 Detroit Lions on Sunday to be crowned NFC champions.

Detroit led 14-0, 21-7 and 24-7 in the first half with San Francisco looking completely lifeless on defense, but the 49ers somehow turned it around on both sides of the ball.

The 49ers scored 27 unanswered points in the second half and led 34-24 before a late Detroit touchdown made it 34-31. However, the Lions failed to recover the onside kick that sealed it.

With the result, the 49ers will meet the No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, a rematch of Super Bowl LIV in 2020.

Here are five winners and losers from the 49ers-Lions thriller:

Winner: Brock Purdy, 49ers

Well, what can the critics say now? Purdy game managed his way to lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in his first full season as starting quarterback. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and one pick while rushing for 51 yards on four carries, including two big 20-yard gains.

He had a horrid first half and couldn't get past the Lions' pressure, but he turned it around in sensational fashion to make a stamp on the rest of the league.

Christian McCaffrey also came up big yet again with 90 rushing yards on 20 attempts and four catches for 42 yards.

Loser: Dan Campbell, Lions

Sometimes, especially on the road, you just have to take the points. But the Lions head coach got caught being aggressive one too many times, which ultimately cost his team the game.

Detroit went 1 of 3 on fourth downs, with the two misses coming on plays where a field goal could've been kicked. Had those kicks been made, the Lions could've won the game. Those are the margins in playoff games, and Campbell just learned it in his first postseason appearance.

Winner: Comebacks

The 49ers were 1-5 in games trailing by 14-plus points since 2022. Once this game reached 14-0, there were doubts the 49ers could pull it off given their struggles coming back under Kyle Shanahan. Then it became 24-7, and those doubts grew.

But, as the 49ers showed last time out against the Green Bay Packers, they can very well play from behind with Purdy under center. Still, though, the first-half effort was concerning. If they play like that against Patrick Mahomes and Co., good luck coming back.

Loser: Detroit's offensive outburst

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dominated 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for the entire first half, but it's also a game of adjustments. And when it mattered most, it was the 49ers who rose to the occasion and turned the tide.

The Lions roared out of the gate and ended the game with 442 total offensive yards, more than San Francisco (413). Jared Goff looked shaky at times but completed 25 of 41 passes for 273 yards, one touchdown and no picks. He was sacked twice, both by 49ers star Nick Bosa.

Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery gave the 49ers' defense fits. Detroit rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns on the night, with Montgomery logging 93 yards on 15 carries and Gibbs 45 yards on 12 carries. Wideout Jameson Williams also took an end around 42 yards to the house to add to the tally.

The down side is that their heroics will be forgotten. The plus side is that they're a young unit and this isn't the last we'll see from Detroit.

Winner: Ladybugs

Perhaps the 49ers don't come back without Brandon Aiyuk's sensational grab midway through the third. Purdy took a deep shot toward Aiyuk, but it bounced off Kindle Vildor's visor and into Aiyuk's path.

That would set up a short strike from Purdy to Aiyuk to tighten the gap, and hinted at maybe the 49ers having some luck their way. Aiyuk after the game mentioned a certain ladybug coming into play.

"Before the game, a ladybug landed on my shoe," Aiyuk told FOX's Erin Andrews. "...Just great luck, God was with us today, great win, bang bang Niner gang."

Now Aiyuk and Co. are in the Super Bowl.

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