• Safa Shooshtry

The Armchair Quarterback Volume 7: Flashback Friday: 2002 NFC Wild-Card Game

The Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans battled it out this past Saturday in an AFC wild-card matchup to determine who would get a chance to move onto the divisional round of the playoffs. It was clear the Colts had “Luck” on their side (see what I did there), going into the locker room at halftime with a 21-0 lead. This kept prompting Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten, who were calling the game from the booth, to keep mentioning the miraculous playoff comebacks of the past. This tactic was probably done so people wouldn’t change the channel to whatever mediocre programming comes on during Saturday afternoons. Really, what do people watch on Saturdays that’s not football? One game in particular that the two of them kept referring to was the San Francisco 49ers miraculous come-from-behind victory against the New York Giants during the 2002 wild-card weekend.

The 49ers were down at the 38-14 late in the third quarter, but thanks to some late-game heroics from some key players, they were able to walk away with a 39-38 win. Let’s take a look back at some of those key players that helped lead the team to a wild comeback victory.

Jeff Garcia

Before he was off marrying playboy playmates (well okay it was only one), he was the local Bay Area boy from Gilroy playing quarterback for his hometown 49ers. Garcia started the game with a quick 76-yard touchdown to Terrell Owens on the 49ers first offensive possession. But he struggled after that strike and would not see the end zone again that half. He came alive again at the end of the third quarter though. Garcia would go on throw two more touchdowns and rush for another one en route to the comeback. His go-ahead touchdown pass to wide receiver Tai Streets came with 1:05 left in the game and put the team up 39-38 to complete the comeback.

Terrell Owens

Before he was a breakout reality star with hit VH1 program “The T.O. Show,” Terrell Owens was playing football and he was pretty, pretty good at it! And no, that show was not anything like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” it was completely original and unique!

Owens, as mentioned, started the game off reeling in a 76-yard touchdown pass from Garcia for the game’s first score. Just like Garcia, he would not see the end zone again until the waning minutes of the third quarter. He would go onto to connect with Garcia once more during the day for another touchdown. Owens finished the day with 177 yards receiving, leading all receivers for the game.

Eric Johnson

Nowadays he is known for being the husband of singer Jessica Simpson. But back then Eric Johnson was known as the tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. He contributed a great deal as well to the offensive production of the game, finishing with 78 yards receiving, second behind Owens.

Steve Mariucci

Who would’ve known there was not one, but TWO future reality stars on the 49ers’ 2002 roster! Steve Mariucci, who is now a football analyst on the NFL Network, was the head coach of the comeback kids. “Mooch,” as he is fondly referred to, didn’t falter while coaching this game and continued to dial up the heat in the face of adversity. Moving onto the divisional round, the 49ers would go on to lose to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mariucci would be fired at the completion of the season. And after a quick stint as the Detroit Lions head coach, he was hired as an analyst for the NFL Network. And let it be known that NFL GameDay Morning is MUCH better reality television than “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”!

Well that was another fun little trip down memory lane! Comebacks are always fun to revisit. But they are especially fun when they are playoff games and happen to be the 49ers coming back from a 24-point deficit!

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