New York Giants 37
Green Bay Packers 20
Having the worst defense in the league finally caught up with the Green Bay Packers, their bend but don't break approach had worked for them all year because they were able to force turnovers while the offense was able to protect the ball. Until sunday. The Packers were only able to force one interception on an overthrown pass by Giants quarterback Eli Manning, but their offense gave the ball away four times with one interception and three fumbles.
Green Bay's offense didn't come to play. Packer receivers dropped eight passes on the day, often on key long yardage plays and third downs killing drives. Nine different Packer receivers had catches on the day, but none had more than 45 yards. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried his best to keep his team in this game, finishing the day 26/46 for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing with 66 yards. But at times even Rodgers didn't look right missing a few wide open receivers and turning the ball over twice. Green Bay shouldn't have even got to 20 points on the day, but a horrible roughing the passer call on Giants DE Osi Umenyiora allowed the Packers to continue their scoring drive.
New York looked dominant on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Eli Manning (21/33, 330 yards, 3TDs) has the Giants one game away from their second superbowl appearance in five seasons after picking apart a porous Green Bay secondary coming up with big play after big play including a 37 yard hail mary to Hakeem Nicks as time expired in the first half. Nicks (7 catches, 165 yards, 2TD) also had a highlight worthy catch and run bouncing off defensive backs as he scampered 66 yards for a touchdown to put the G-men up 10-3 in the first quarter. The Giants' running game didn't put up big numbers (Ahmad Bradshaw led the team with 63 yards) but came through in the clutch. Bradshaw's 23 yard run in the 2nd quarter set up the hail mary TD pass to Nicks, and Brandon Jacobs' 14 yard TD run after a failed onside kick by the Packers sealed the victory for New York.
The Giants' defense took a little while to get warmed up in this game. Though they were able to hold the Pack to only 10 points in the first half, their first of four forced turnovers didn't happen until the third quarter and their D-line didn't get much pressure on Aaron Rodgers until well into the second quarter. Osi Umenyiora and Michael Boley each had two sacks for the Giants and while the secondary only forced one interception, they also had 8 passes defensed and kept consistent tight coverage on Green Bay's receiving corps.
With the win, The Giants advance to the NFC championship game and will go on the road to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday January 22nd at 6:30 pm ET. This matchup pits two of the hottest defenses in the league against each other in what should be a very tight game. This is the first time the Giants and 49ers will face each other in the playoffs since the two teams met in the wildcard round back in 2002, the 49ers won 38-39.
Offensive Player of the Game
Hakeem Nicks (NYG, WR) – 7 catches, 165 yards, 2 TD
Nicks wasn't a huge factor late, but his two TDs in the first half swung momentum permanently into the Giants' favor.
Defensive Player(s) of the Game
Michael Boley (NYG, LB) – 8 tackles, 2 sacks
Osi Umenyiora (NYG, DE) – 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Deon Grant (NYG, S) – 6 tackles, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery
This defense is the definition of TEAM, no mega stars, every player contributes.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS