Giants Upset Packers; Advance to NFC Championship Game: The New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers 37-20 earlier today at Lambeau Field. With the victory, the Giants advance to the NFC Championship Game next Sunday. The Giants will play the 49ers in San Francisco for the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVI.
The Giants not only overcame a Packers team that was 15-1 and 8-0 at home this season, but a number of questionable calls by officials that clearly favored the Packers.
The Giants out-gained the Packers in total net yards (420 to 388) and net yards passing (325 to 241) while the Packers out-gained the Giants in first downs (25 to 19) and net yards rushing (147 to 95). Time of possession was virtually equal (30:25 for the Packers; 29:35 for the Giants). The key statistic was the Giants won the turnover battle 4 to 1.
The Giants received the football first and proceeded to put together a 13-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by PK Lawrence Tynes. Key plays on the drive included a 19-yard pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Mario Manningham on 3rd-and-8, a 17-yard pass to WR Victor Cruz, and an 11-yard pass to Cruz on 3rd-and-10.
The Packers then responded with an 8-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 47-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
The Giants struck quickly on their second possession. After a 15-yard pass from Manning to WR Hakeem Nicks on 3rd-and-11 gave the Giants a first down, Manning found Nicks again over the middle. Nicks broke a tackle and ran away from the defense en route to a 66-yard scoring play and a 10-3 Giants’ lead.
The Packers responded again, this time driving 60 yards in nine plays to tie the game at 10-10 when QB Aaron Rodgers found FB John Kuhn for an 8-yard touchdown on the first play of the 2nd quarter. Earlier on the drive, however, the Packers clearly fumbled the ball away to the Giants, but the officials would not overturn the play despite clear video evidence.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Packers tried to surprise the Giants with an onside kickoff, but S Derrick Martin recovered at the 41-yard line of the Packers for the Giants. New York picked up one first down but was forced to settle for a field goal attempt. Tynes’ 40-yard was blocked by the Packers.
On the Packers’ third offensive possession, Green Bay picked up two first downs and moved the ball to the Giants’ 43-yard before being forced to punt. The Giants then drove from their own 20 to the Packers’ 34-yard line. But on 3rd-and-5, Manning’s pass over the middle was picked off by Green Bay. The Packers picked up one first down before Kuhn fumbled and S Antrel Rolle recovered and advanced the ball to the Packers’ 34-yard line.
On the first play after the turnover, Manning hit Nicks for a 29-yard gain down to the 5-yard line, but the Giants could not punch the ball in and settled for a 23-yard field goal by Tynes and a 13-10 advantage with less than two minutes before halftime.
Then came a key sequence of events in the game. The Packers picked up one first down but then were forced to punt after LB Michael Boley sacked Rodgers on 3rd-and-5. The Giants called timeout with 48 seconds left. A 9-yard pass to HB Ahmad Bradshaw and a 23-yard run by Bradshaw put the ball at the Packers 37-yard line with 6 seconds left before intermission. Instead of attempting a long field goal, the Giants went for a “Hail Mary” pass and Manning’s 37-yard bomb was caught by Nicks in the end zone with no time on the clock.
At the half, the Giants led 20-10.
The Packers received the football to start the 3rd quarter and drove to the Giants’ 30-yard line in eight plays. But on the ninth play, on 1st-and-10, Rodgers was sacked by DE Osi Umenyiora. Rodgers fumbled the ball, which was recovered by S Deon Grant at the Giants’ 37-yard line. It was a huge play by Umenyiora as Rodgers was about to throw the football to a wide open Packers’ receiver deep for a possible touchdown.
The Giants went three-and-out and were forced to punt. The Packers then put together a 10-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal. Giants 20 – Packers 13. The Giants went three-and-out again on their next possession. In the 3rd quarter, the Giants only had two drives for 14 net yards and no first downs.
On the Packers’ third drive, they reached the Giants’ 39-yard. Facing a 4th-and-5, Green Bay decided to go for it. But Rodgers was sacked by Boley for a 6-yard loss and the Packers turned the football over on downs.
With under 13 minutes to play in the game, the Giants started their third possession of the second half and moved the ball 38 yards in 10 plays, settling for a 35-yard field goal by Tynes and a 23-10 lead. There were key completions to Manningham and Cruz on third down on this possession.
On the ensuing Packers’ drive, with just under 7 minutes to play, ex-Giant HB Ryan Grant fumbled the ball away after a short completion. The ball was punched out by S Kenny Phillips and recovered by LB Chase Blackburn who returned the football to the Packers’ 4-yard line. On the very next snap, Manning hit Manningham for a touchdown and a 30-13 lead.
The Packers responded with a an 8-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that cut the lead to 30-20 with 4:46 to play. The drive was aided by a highly-questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on Umenyiora on a 3rd-and-10 incomplete pass from the Green Bay 24-yard line.
The Packers attempted their second onside kickoff and nearly got it before the ball was recovered by Cruz at midfield. On 3rd-and-11, Manning found Cruz over the middle for 17 yards and a first down to maintain possession. On the next snap, Bradshaw broke off a 24-yard run. Two plays later, HB Brandon Jacobs scored from 14 yards out to give the Giants a commanding 37-20 advantage with 2:36 to play.
On the Packers’ final possession, Rodgers was intercepted by Grant at the Giants’ 43-yard line and the Giants knelt on the ball to end the game.
Offensively, Manning finished the game 21-of-33 for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Nicks caught 7 passes for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns was Cruz caught 5 passes for 74 yards. Bradshaw carried the football 12 times for 63 yards.
Defensively, Boley had 9 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 pass defensed. Umenyiora also had 2 sacks. Grant had 6 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery. Rolle and Blackburn also had fumble recoveries.
Highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.
Injury Report: DT Chris Canty left the game with a knee injury. While Canty looked to be in a lot of pain, he said after the game he was OK. WR Victor Cruz also injured a knee, but did not seem too concerned about it after the game. S Deon Grant was evaluated for a concussion, but later returned to the game.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: Video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference is available at Giants.com.
Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Video of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:
- QB Eli Manning (Video)
- HB Ahmad Bradshaw (Video)
- HB Brandon Jacobs (Video)
- WR Hakeem Nicks (Video)
- TE Travis Beckum (Video)
- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Video)
- DE Justin Tuck (Video)
- DE Osi Umenyiora (Video)
- LB Mathias Kiwanuka (Video)
Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were HB Da’Rel Scott, WR Ramses Barden, OC Jim Cordle, OT James Brewer, DE Justin Trattou, DT Jimmy Kennedy, and LB Mark Herzlich (ankle).
Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Coughlin is Becoming a Coaching Giant by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com