Date: Sunday, January 29
Live text coverage: On the BBC Sport website and app on Sunday (19:30-04:00 GMT)

The San Francisco 49ers clinched a hard-fought victory over the Dallas Cowboys to reach the NFC Championship Game.

The five-time Super Bowl champions held on to beat the Cowboys 19-12 and stretch their winning streak to 12 games.

Earlier on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Buffalo Bills 27-10 in snowy Highmark Stadium.

Last year’s Super Bowl runners-up visit the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday for a spot in Super Bowl 57, while the 49ers are at the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s the first time the Bengals, who took a 14-0 lead inside the first quarter, have reached the AFC Championship Game in successive years.

It is also the first time in 36 years that the confrontation of the previous year has been repeated.

The 49ers and Cowboys contested the NFC Championship Game three years in a row in the 1990s and renewed their rivalry at Levi’s Stadium.

San Francisco beat Dallas during last year’s wild card weekend and the 49ers dumped their old rivals again in this year’s divisional round to reach the Conference Championship for the third time in four years.

And that’s despite being led by third-choice quarterback Brock Purdy, who is now one win away from the Super Bowl after being ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ this season, the last man drafted.

March of ‘Mr Irrelevant’ and 49ers

george kittle
George Kittle made a one-handed catch to propel the 49ers to a game-winning 91-yard drive.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott finished the regular season with a joint league-high 15 interceptions, despite missing five games, and threw two more during the first half, both resulting in field goals.

Among those picks, Prescott led the Cowboys to a 14-play, 74-yard drive, which ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Dalton Schultz, but another field goal pushed the 49ers to a 9-6 lead at the half. weather.

San Francisco’s Ray-Ray McCloud missed a punt return early in the third quarter, giving the Cowboys a chance to tie it on a Brett Maher field goal.

Both sides then had to punt before the 49ers, led by Purdy since Week 14 after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, put together what turned out to be a game-winning 91-yard drive.

Tight end George Kittle made an impressive catch early in the drive, the ball bouncing off his hands and off his helmet before he was able to grab it with one hand for a 30-yard gain.

And from the first play of the fourth quarter, the 49ers’ star midseason signing Christian McCaffrey stormed into the end zone from two yards out.

Each team kicked a field goal on their next possession, before the 49ers defense held its own to prevent Dallas from getting within scoring range on its last two possessions.

That was enough to sustain the winning start to Purdy’s NFL career — now he’s won all seven starts, and the 23-year-old is one win away from becoming the first rookie quarterback to make the Super Bowl.

Hamlin’s emotional comeback fails to inspire Bills

Cincinnati Bengals players celebrate
Cincinnati Bengals players celebrated by making snow angels in the end zone after Cam Taylor-Britt intercepted Josh Allen on the Bills’ final possession.

Buffalo was the preseason favorite to win this season’s Super Bowl and entered the postseason as the AFC’s second seed, with Cincinnati third.

They were also carried to the playoffs by an emotional wave of support for safety Damar Hamlin, who was resuscitated on the field after going into cardiac arrest during the penultimate game of the regular season, also against the Bengals.

The 24-year-old was discharged from the hospital after nine days and has continued his recovery, visiting his teammates for the first time since his collapse the day before Buffalo held for a 34-31 victory over the Miami Dolphins during week one of the play-offs.

Bills coach Sean McDermott said he had visited team facilities “almost daily” this week, leading to speculation that Hamlin would be at Sunday’s game, just 20 days after his collapse.

And shortly before kickoff, television footage showed Hamlin in a utility vehicle being driven to the Bills’ locker room door.

However, Hamlin’s presence failed to inspire his teammates once they headed out to a snowy field in upstate New York, right on the Canadian border.

When snow is forecast in Buffalo, some NFL teams enjoy going north, and the Bills went 13-1 at home in the playoffs.

To be fair, frigid conditions aren’t completely foreign to the Bengals in Ohio, and they dominated from the start, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions.

Quarterback Joe Burrow fired a 28-yard dart to Ja’Marr Chase before finding Hayden Hurst wide open in the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score.

Buffalo opened the second quarter with a 15-play drive, resulting in quarterback Josh Allen breaking in from one yard out to cut the deficit to 17-7 at the half.

But after another long drive early in the third quarter, the Bills had to settle for a field goal to make it 17-10.

And that was the closest they got when the Bengals responded with a touchdown, running back Joe Mixon capping off a 75-yard drive late in the third quarter.

conference championships

Sunday, January 29

San Francisco 49ers – Philadelphia Eagles (20:05 GMT)

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs (11:30 p.m.)

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