JV Sports Web Exclusive
It has been a very productive run for the NY Giants, as they march on to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, and they have fought hard for each victory they earned. But with two playoff wins under their belt, Big Blue faced their toughest battle yet by going up against the NFC West Champion 49ers in San Francisco.
This isn’t the first big elimination game for the Giants this season; it’s actually their 4th in as many weeks. The Giants faced the Jets in week 16 with a 7-7 record, then beat the Cowboys at home in the season finale in a win or go home situation to win the NFC east and clinch a playoff berth. That was followed up with two big wins against the Falcons at home then the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers on the road. Pro Bowl QB Eli Manning had stomach flu and needed to miss a day of practice prior to the big game.
Sunday night January 22, all football fans were tuned in, watching these two teams battle it out by the bay at Candlestick Park. The 49ers, which are sending seven players to the Pro Bowl, haven’t seen the playoffs in nearly a decade until they hired rookie head Coach Jim Harbaugh, who quickly turned the franchise around and made them a contender. The Giants, with head coach Tom Coughlin at the helm, emerged victorious at the Super bowl four years ago in very similar fashion by winning three straight road games and then beating the until-then undefeated Patriots to win the Championship. Ever since then, the G-men have had a very up-and-down season with many injuries and late season let downs to go along with them.
The 49ers scored first when QB Alex Smith connected with WR Vernon Davis on a 73 yard TD with just over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Giants started the second quarter in high gear, with QB Eli Manning finding Bear Pascoe for a six yard TD. Kicker Lawrence Tynes’ field goal gave Big Blue a 10-7 lead going into the second half. The 49ers regained the lead once again when Smith connected with Davis yet again for a 28 yard TD with just over five minutes remaining in the 3rd. The Giants caught a break on a miscue by the 49ers return squad to start the fourth period which led to a Mario Maningham 17 yard TD catch to take a three point lead. San Francisco kicker David Ackers tied the game up with a field goal with just over five minutes remaining in the game and that’s how regulation ended.
In the extra period, it was a see saw battle between both teams on the muddy field. But it was another big miscue by the 49ers special teams on another punt return that gave the G-men one more shot to win the game and head to the big one. The Giants’ running backs drove the team closer into field goal range as the clock was winding down. Then with just 2:26 remaining in OT, Kicker Lawrence Tynes, just as he did four years ago against the Packers, kicked a 31 yard FG to clinch the game and send Big Blue to the Super Bowl. Giants fans from around the country including myself were jumping up and down as the ball went through the goal post.
So the Giants are headed to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI for a rematch against the Patriots. The Giants and Patriots met in a thriller back in week nine in Gillette Stadium. With the Giants trailing by three late in the 4th, Eli Manning put together a magnificent come back and beat the Patriots on a late TD on the road 24-20. It was flashbacks of just four years ago in Arizona when the Giants faced the then undefeated Patriots, and beat them for the franchises 3rd Super Bowl championship. The Giants were considered the underdogs by many at the start of the training camp, but came together late in the season and put together yet another Cinderella journey to the Super bowl!