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San Francisco beats the Dallas Cowboys in a defensive struggle

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Christian McCaffrey scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter and the San Francisco defense took over, sending the 49ers to their second straight NFC title game with a 19-12 defeat of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The 49ers (15-4) used long consecutive scoring streaks in the second half to wear down the Cowboys (13-6) and win their 12th straight game. San Francisco advanced to face the Eagles in a match next Sunday for the NFC Championship in Philadelphia, after losing in that round to the Rams a year ago.

“Man, we’re just excited because we won,” said 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. “Everyone has done their part. It’s playoff football, it’s never easy, but we’re moving on.”

The Cowboys lost for the seventh straight time in the Divisional Round and have failed to reach the NFC title game since their fifth Super Bowl win following the 1995 season.

Dak Prescott threw two interceptions and Brett Maher had his fifth extra point of the playoffs when his attempt was blocked. Later, he kicked two field goals.

The Cowboys got a shot when they took the wheel at their own 18 with 2:59 to go, trailing 19-12 after Robbie Gould’s fourth goal of the game capped a nearly eight-minute drive.

But Prescott threw two outs in a row and sacked the third. Coach Mike McCarthy elected to put up the fourth and ten with the three timeouts remaining.

Purdy began the next drive with a 16-yard completion to George Keitel and San Francisco did not return the ball to Dallas for 45 seconds. The Cowboys took over at the sixth and never got close.

Purdy, last drafted this past April, has improved to 7-0 as a starter since replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo early in Week 13. He went 18-for-28 for 215 yards without a turnover against the Cowboys, joining Joe Flacco (2008) and Mark Sanchez (2009). ) as the only rookie QBs to win two playoff games.

Great. Is Brock Purdy getting us to the NFC Championship Game? I mean, he’s only won seven in a row, I think. He’s playing at a high level, he’s getting the football for our best players, he’s tall and he’s confident with the crowd. He just does a great job.”

The 49ers took the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when McCaffrey capped off a 91-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The drive featured a 30-yard fumble catch by Kittle and a pair of defensive tackles against Dallas, including one on Donovan Wilson near the goal line that nullified the third sack.

“I was like, ‘You know what, how do I make this as dramatic as possible?’” Kettle said of his amazing catch. “Just yell at Brock: I’m not recovering and he’s still finding me, so that’s all that matters. So I just appreciate him for giving me the chance to catch the ball. »

Maher made his second field goal of the game when he converted from 43 yards out to cut San Francisco’s lead to 16-12.

The NFL’s two best teams over the past 13 weeks struggled to get ahead as defenses led by All-Pros Nick Bosa of San Francisco and Micah Parsons of Dallas dominated play.

The Niners downed Prescott twice in the first half, converted on field goals by Gould, and led 9-6 at halftime.

The Cowboys scored the only TD of the first half with Prescott connecting to tight end Dalton Schultz for the third time this postseason. But Maher’s weak attempt for the extra point was stopped by Samson Ibukam.

Maher recovered slightly when he threw a 25-yard field goal that tied the game at the 9 early in the third quarter after Ray McCloud fumbled a punt return at the San Francisco 21.

just for fun

The Cowboys’ decision to stay with Maher after losing four extra points last week looked questionable when he missed his first extra point. Maher’s five missed kicks is the second most by an American football player in the playoffs. Roy Gerela missed six tries in 43 attempts in the 1970s for Houston and Pittsburgh.

There was dust before the match when Maher was about to warm up. Trent Williams and other 49ers players tried to interfere with his tackles on the San Francisco team, which led to a brief altercation.

injuries

Cowboys: RB Tony Pollard left late in the first half after spraining his left ankle while being tackled after a reception. Didn’t return to play… DT Calvin Watkins (calf) left in the first half.

49ers: De Charles Omeniho (skewed) left briefly in the first half but returned to the game.

Next

The 49ers would reach Super Bowl II in the past four seasons with a win in Philadelphia.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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