Garcia wishes he could relive 49ers-Giants '02 wild-card classic

Bring up the 2002 NFC Wild Card Game between the 49ers and Giants to Jeff Garcia, and the smile on his face becomes infectious.

"That will rank as one of my all-time favorite experiences as far as playing the game," Garcia told on Thursday. "It was one of those games where your back's against the wall. You don't know how it's going to turn out, but you have to change what is happening."

The 49ers and Giants will meet again Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, but it's hard to believe they can match the classic encounter they had Jan. 5, 2003, at Candlestick Park.

San Francisco trailed 38-14 with 4:27 left in the third quarter before Garcia and Co. staged one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

» Touchdown pass to Terrell Owens.
» Two-point conversion pass to Owens.
» Touchdown run by Garcia (strikingly similar to Alex Smith's last week).
» Two-point conversion pass to Owens.
» Jeff Chandler field goal.
» Touchdown pass to Tai Streets.

All while the Giants' offense suddenly went cold. Add it up, and the 49ers scored 25 unanswered points to complete a victory that forever will live in team lore.

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"It just so happened that for that last quarter-plus, everything fell into place," Garcia said. "It's one of those moments, for me, that you wish you could bottle and just savor for the rest of your life. Because that experience, especially right after the game, was one of the greatest I've ever had playing the game."

A little luck definitely went a long way for the 49ers that day. Jeremy Shockey dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone late in the third quarter, and Giants long snapper Trey Junkin botched two field-goal snaps, including on the last play of the game. There might or might not have been a pass-interference penalty that wasn't called on San Francisco during that play, but Garcia makes no apologies.

"Little things here and there definitely fell into our side," Garcia said. "But we still had to put it together and finish drives with touchdowns and two-point conversions and all those things. We did it, man. We did it, and it was a great team effort."

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