New York Giants Beat Green Bay Packers At Lambeau Field, Head To San Francisco For NFC Championship Game – New York Daily News
The Giants walked off their own field in early December knowing they were good enough to beat the Green Bay Packers.
On Sunday night, at frigid Lambeau Field, they proved to the world they were right.
For the second time in four years, the Giants braved the frozen tundra and did what many thought was impossible and knocked the Packers out of the playoffs. And this time they didn’t need overtime or any late-game heroics to beat the Packers 37-20 in an NFC divisional playoff game.
Now the Giants (11-7), who were on the brink of an epic collapse less than a month ago, are now headed back to the NFC championship game for the first time since 2008. They’ll face the NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers (14-3) at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Sunday night with a berth in Super Bowl XLVI on the line.
For the Giants, that will also be the next stop on their “Revenge Tour.” They lost to the 49ers in San Francisco, 27-20 back on Nov. 13 when a would-be, game-tying touchdown pass from Manning was batted down at the line of scrimmage in the final seconds of that game.
The first stop on their “Revenge Tour” couldn’t have gone better. Just like they did in their 38-35 loss to the Packers back on Dec. 4, the Giants had little trouble moving the ball and scoring on the Green Bay defense. Despite windchills in the teens, Manning completed 21 passes for 33 yards.
That included 7 catchers for 165 yards from Hakeem Nicks, who made the biggest catch of the game on the final play of the first half – a leaping, 37-yard touchdown catch that he pinned against his helmet on a Hail Mary pass.
The way the Giants’ revived defense was playing, that was more than enough. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (26 for 46, 264 yards, 2 TDs, INT) looked rusty after not playing for three weeks and he wasn’t helped by his butterfingered receivers. Even late in the game when it looked like he got into a groove, the Giants found a way to stop him – like at the start of the fourth quarter when the Packers went for it a fourth down from the Giants’ 39, but were stopped when Michael Boley got his second sack of the game.
The Giants’ defense put the final exclamation point on the game with about seven minutes remaining, when safety Kenny Phillips knocked the ball out of Packers running back Ryan Grant’s hands and linebacker Chase Blackburn returned the fumble to the Green Bay 4. On the next play, Manning hit Mario Manningham with a 4-yard touchdown pass that put the Giants up 30-13 and put the game away.
The Giants always knew they could score on the Packers, and they struck first early in the game. After the teams opened by trading field goals, Manning found Hakeem Nicks on a crossing route near the middle of the field, and Nicks just bounced off Packers safety Charlie Peprah. He took off from there for a 66-yard touchdown that gave the Giants an early 10-3 lead.
They had a chance to build on that too, a few minutes later, when it appeared that Packers receiver Greg Jennings fumbled deep in Giants territory. But the officials ruled he was down before he fumbled, and despite a replay that seemed to show he wasn’t, referee Bill Leavy upheld the call after a review.
That opened the door for the Packers, who tied the game on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to fullback John Kuhn. They tried to build on that momentum by trying a surprise onside kick, but the Giants recovered down at the Packers 41. But the Giants blew that opportunity when Lawrence Tynes’ 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
They would get another one, though. After Manning was intercepted in the second quarter by safety Morgan Burnett, the Packers gave the ball back four plays later on a Kuhn fumble. That allowed the Giants to add another Tynes field goal for a 13-10 lead.
It was the end of the first half, though, where they finally took control. A third-down sack by Giants linebacker Michael Boley got the Giants the ball back with 41 seconds to go. Then on 3rd-and-1, Ahmad Bradshaw took off on a long, side-to-side, 23-yard run and got out of bounds with six seconds to go.
Then, instead of trying a 54-yard field goal, the Giants went for the Hail Mary instead. And it worked. Manning heaved a 37-yard pass into the end zone where Nicks made a leaping, David Tyree-like catch, pinning the ball against his facemask for a touchdown to give the Giants a stunning, 20-10 lead.
They kept the pressure on at the start of the second half, too, getting a strip-sack by Osi Umenyiora at the end of the Packers’ opening drive. And even when the Packers’ offense seemed to find its groove, the Giants defense held them out of the end zone. The Packers did get a 35-yard field goal from Crosby late in the third quarter, though, which kept them within a touchdown, 20-13, at the start of the fourth.
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