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WR Brandon Aiyuk's ladybug luck play jumpstarts 49ers' epic comeback

Epic comebacks don't happen without talent and luck combining into an explosive concoction.

Sunday, the Niners turned a 24-7 lead on its head with a steamrolling third quarter and sprinted to Super Bowl LVIII with a 34-31 win over the Detroit Lions. But it took a smidge of luck to kickstart the comeback.

After settling for a field goal on the opening drive, the 49ers defense bowed up and made a fourth-down stop on a rolling Lions offense. The game would have unfolded differently had it not been for Lady Luck smiling down.

Two plays after the defensive stop, Brock Purdy unleashed a deep shot to Brandon Aiyuk. The problem: Lions cornerback Kindle Vildor wasn't fooled or beaten. The CB was in perfect position with an interception floating his way as Aiyuk stretched, desperate to get a hand on the pigskin.

Then, clang.

Vildor had the ball go through his hands and careen off his facemask. Aiyuk deftly pulled the ball from the air and tumbled to the turf for a game-changing 51-yard play.

"Before the game, a ladybug landed on my shoe," Aiyuk told FOX on the field after the comeback. "Y'all know what that means. So that's all that I can say. Because at the end of the day, I dunno. I dunno. Just great luck. God was with us today. Great win."

Two plays later, Aiyuk secured a touchdown, slicing the Lions' lead in half, and the game was on.

The big play came after Purdy and Aiyuk seemed out of sync, connecting on one of their first five passes before the ladybug luck found its way into the wideout's arms.

"People can say what they want. I was giving my guy a shot and it worked out," Purdy said of the heave that was nearly picked off, via The San Francisco Chronicle.

The play exemplified a game that sat on the razor's edge. A series of Lions miscues opened the door for the Niners to make an epic comeback. San Francisco had the talent, awareness, and gumption to take advantage each time.

"BA's had a tremendous season making crazy plays for us," defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. "But that one was really wild."

Aiyuk caught three passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, the first postseason score of his career.

"Just the way we intended it to look!" tight end George Kittle quipped of the 51-yard miracle. "Off the guy's face mask into BA's hands, dang, Brock Purdy's good at football."

Off the defender's facemask and into the history books. It won't rival The Catch in San Francisco, but if the Niners can finish the deal and raise the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas against the Chiefs, Aiyuk's play will go down in lore.

"I was like … it's supposed to be this way," offensive tackle Trent Williams said. "The football gods are smiling on us."

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