San Francisco 49ers sink Vikings in NFL playoffs
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San Francisco (AFP)
The San Francisco 49ers halted the Minnesota Vikings' giant-killing run on Saturday, moving to within one win of a place in the Super Bowl with a ruthless 27-10 playoff victory.
The 49ers advanced to a home NFC championship showdown against either the Seattle Seahawks or Green Bay Packers with a relentless defensive display to throttle the Vikings offense led by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
San Francisco running back Tevin Coleman rushed for two touchdowns while quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finished with 131 passing yards to claim victory in his first career playoff game.
Cousins, the hero of last week's upset over the New Orleans Saints, was given a torrid time, sacked six times by a rampant Niners defense.
San Francisco got off to a dream start after forcing Minnesota to punt on their opening possession in front of a packed house at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
Garoppolo then marched the 49ers 61 yards upfield on a smooth, eight-play opening drive that culminated with the San Francisco quarterback picking out receiver Kendrick Bourne with a three-yard pass for a touchdown.
The Vikings hit back immediately, leveling the score on their next possession when Cousins floated a superb pass just beyond 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to find Stefon Diggs for a 41-yard touchdown.
That was as good as it got for the Vikings offense, however, although the 49ers benefited from a slice of fortune to regain the lead.
The 49ers looked to be in trouble when Deebo Samuel appeared to fumble after a jolting tackle from Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks.
The replay booth came to San Francisco's rescue, however, correctly spotting that Samuel had a knee down before the fumble occurred.
Buoyed by that break, the 49ers advanced to the one-yard line, where running back Coleman skipped over for the go-ahead score at 14-7.
Minnesota's defense came up big to keep their team in touch, Kendricks reading Garoppolo's attempted pass to Samuel to pluck the interception deep in Niners territory.
Minnesota were unable to make the most of the turnover, though, settling for a field goal to go in 14-10 down at half-time.
San Francisco dominated the second half, extending their lead to 17-10 in the third quarter with a 35-yard Robbie Gould field goal and then exploiting a Richard Sherman to set up Coleman's second touchdown for a 24-10 edge.
Gould added his second field goal from 21 yards to make it 27-10 and complete the scoring at the start of the fourth quarter.
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