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On This Date in Sports January 20, 1991: No Threepeat

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The New York Giants end the San Francisco 49ers' hopes for three straight Lombardi Trophies, winning the NFC Championship Game 15-13 on five field goals by Matt Bahr, including one from 42 yards as time expired. The Giants were playing without Phil Simms, who was injured late in the season but got a strong game from back up Jeff Hostetler. The Giants took advantage of a fumble by Roger Craig, while Joe Montana suffered an injury on a sack by Leonard Marshall. The Giants would go on to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV 20-19.  

The San Francisco 49ers were the team in the 80s and were looking to continue their reign into the 90s. The Niners won four Super Bowls, including two straight to end the decade. For the second straight season, San Francisco posted a record of 14-2, for coach George Seifert setting a record for most wins over two seasons. The 49ers won their first ten games before a loss to the Los Angeles Rams ahead of a Monday Night showdown with the New York Giants, who also started 10-0 before a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The 49ers won the game at Candlestick Park 7-3. Joe Montana was named NFL MVP for the second straight season, passing for a career-best 3,944 yards. In the Divisional Playoffs, the 49ers beat the Washington Redskins 28-10. 

The New York Giants were nearing the end of an era as Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor were entering the twilight of their careers. Still, the feeling was they had one more good run in them as they looked to erase the memory of a heartbreaking loss against the Rams in the 1989 DIvisional Playoffs. The Giants jumped out to a 10-0 start before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. A week later, they dropped a second game in a battle of 10-1 teams against the Niners. The Giants would suffer a third loss in Week 15 against the Bills on a slushy Saturday at the Meadowlands. In that loss, Simms suffered a season-ending foot injury. Jeff Hostetler led the way the final two weeks, as the Giants finished 13-3. The Giants would stomp the Chicago Bears 31-3 to reach the NFC Championship. 

At Candlestick Park, the 49ers sought a third straight Super Bowl appearance, equaling the feat of the Miami Dolphins from 1971-1973. The Niners were an eight-point favorite as Jeff Hostetler was playing at quarterback for the fourth straight game. The 49ers began the play with a 44-yard drive that culminated in a 47-yard field goal by Mike Cofer. The Giants answered with their best drive of the game, as Maurice Carthon dropped a touchdown in the end zone. Matt Bahr would hit a 28-yard field goal as the game was tied 3-3 at the end of the first quarter. Each team would also hit a field goal in the second quarter as the game was tied 6-6 at the half. 

In the third quarter, the 49ers finally broke through as Joe Montana completed a 61-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor. The Giants again responded but were forced to settle for a 46-yard field goal by Matt Bahr. Bahr had been signed by the Giants after an injury to Raul Allegre. Bahr, an 11-year veteran, had begun his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers before spending nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns. The Giants had a chance to draw closer, but Bahr missed a 37-yard field goal, keeping the score 13-9 in favor of San Francisco as the game went to the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, things looked bleak for New York as Jeff Hostetler limped off the field after a hit by Jim Burt. The Niners had a chance to put the game away when Leonard Marshall made the biggest hit of the game by sacking Joe Montana. The Niners were able to recover Montana's fumble, but the play was a turning point. Montana was badly injured, suffering broken ribs, a bruised sternum, and a broken hand. The injury would end Joe Montana's career in San Francisco as he missed the entire 1991 season and was unable to start in 1992. By the time he was ready to play, the job had belonged the Steve Young leading to a quarterback controversy that ended with Montana being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

After the Montana injury, the Giants had trouble moving the ball and were facing a decision down 13-9 with just over five minutes left. Appearing to line up to punt, the Giants ran a fake with Gary Reasons picking up the first down on a stunning 30-yard run. The Giants would again settle for a Matt Bahr 38-yard field goal that cut the deficit to one point. With Steve Young in the game, the Niners hoped to run down the clock, but a fumble by Roger Craig recovered by Lawrence Taylor had the Giants in a position to win the game with a field goal. The Giants were able to drive into Matt Bahr's range, setting up a 42-yard kick as time expired. The kick was good as the Giants celebrated a 15-13 win to advance to Super Bowl XXV.