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Giants’ Win Is Top Rated Conference Championship Since 1995

The New York Giants’ 20-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers drew the best preliminary television rating for any National Football League conference championship game since 1995.

The New England Patriots’ 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens, which also was decided in the closing seconds, had the highest rating for an afternoon American Football Conference championship since 1994.

Yesterday’s Giants-49ers National Football Conference title game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco was seen on Fox in 33.4 percent of homes in the top 56 U.S. television markets, Ileana Pena, a spokeswoman for the News Corp. network, said in an e-mail.

That makes it the highest-rated conference title game since the 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-28 in January 1995, which drew a major-market rating of 34.2.

The Giants’ victory drew an 11 percent better rating than last year’s NFC championship between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, which earned a 30 rating while airing earlier in the day.

New York topped the 49ers 7:54 into overtime on a 31-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes. The kick came after the Giants recovered a fumbled punt by Kyle Williams at the 49ers’ 24-yard-line.

The Patriots’ 23-20 win over the Ravens earned a 29.1 major-market rating on CBS. That’s the highest such rating for an afternoon AFC championship since a 1994 meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills that drew a 29.5, according to CBS Corp.

Patriots Win

The Patriots won yesterday’s game after Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

The Giants and Patriots will meet in the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in a rematch of the 2008 title game, which New York won 17-14. Last year’s Super Bowl, won by the Packers over the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the most-watched program in U.S. television history, drawing an average of 111 million viewers.

The 2008 Super Bowl drew an average of 97 million viewers - - at the time a record for the event -- and a 43.1 rating, according to Nielsen Holdings NV.

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