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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Catch III – NFL Championship Game Preview

Evan though law school classes resumed this past week, it doesn’t seem appropriate to talk about them considering that the San Francisco 49ers are playing tomorrow afternoon for the chance to go to the Super Bowl. On that note, and in light of last week’s clutch, epic win against the New Orleans Saints, here is a post dedicated to the game-winning touchdown catch and the two catches that come before it in 49ers lore.

Video Compilation of all three catches.

The first and most infamous catch is “The Catch” by Dwight Clark against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park on 3rd Down and 3. Like the two catches that came after it, it was not the last play of the game, but capped a great drive and took the 49ers to their first Super Bowl where they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals.

"The Catch"

In 1999 the 49ers faced the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs and needed a touchdown with :03 seconds left to defeat one of their biggest rivals. Steve Young dropped back, tripped, stayed upright, and fired a strike right down the middle of the field into the heart of the Packers defense where Terrell Owens caught and hung on to the ball as he got hit at the goal line, scoring the winning touchdown and stunning the Packers. Owens got up from a vicious hit, running over to Steve Mariucci and hugging him while sobbing. The iconic image solidified Owens as a young star wide receiver and gave Steve Young his last real glory moment.  The best part of the video is Brett Favre’s stunned expression immediately after the score.

"The Catch II"

This brings us to last Saturday when Alex Smith completed the game-winning TD pass to Vernon Davis to defeat the New Orleans Saints in stunning fashion. Not only did this pass end a stunning game and perhaps one of the best NFL Divisional Playoff games ever, it is eerily similar to the Catch II.

"The Catch III"

You can’t measure what each catch did for the franchise, both good and bad. Each catch came on 3rd Down and 3 at Candlestick Park and left less than a minute on the clock in each game. For such a storied franchise, these catches represent the great players that have played for the organization and what they have meant to the fans. Sure, The Catch II doesn’t happen if replay is used to rule that Jerry Rice fumbled the ball a few plays earlier. The Catch III required clutch offensive plays and poor defensive plays by both teams in the 4 minutes that preceded it. Either way you cut it, without “The Catch” there is no The Catch II or The Catch III.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s NFC Championship game, the 49ers should beat the New York Football Giants in what I think will be a wet and muddy game. Defense and rushing will be the keys to the game. It would not at all surprise me if Special Teams plays a very large role. I think a slick field and slick ball will more adversely affect the Giants than it will the 49ers. Regardless, the 49ers should prevail 23-13. 

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