The scene was perfect. Lambeau Field, very cold temperatures (although the field is heated underneath and is 55 degrees, so I won’t use frozen tundra), and the NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. What more could one ask for?
The game lived up to its billing as the surging and surprising New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in overtime to win the NFC title and punch a ticket to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona two weeks from today for Big Game 42.
The Giants moved to 10-1 on the road, a place they have come to adore. Installed as seven point underdogs, the Giants were the better team Sunday. Eli Manning outplayed Brett Favre, who despite a Super Bowl win, has been less than stellar in playoff games. The Giants ran the ball better and their defense was certainly the better of the two. But, thanks to some conservative play calling late and two missed field goals by Lawrence Tynes, the game set up perfectly for Favre to have one heroic drive in overtime after the Pack won the coin toss.
As we know, it was not meant to be. Favre threw late and Cody Webster made the interception and suddenly the Giants were in business. On 4th and 5 from the Packer 30, I thought the Giants would go for the first down rather than give the shaky Tynes another chance. When Tom Coughlin sent out Tynes, I was sure he would miss again and the Packers would find a way to win. But, Tynes drilled the kick, probably the best he’s hit a ball all year, and the road warrior Giants had won again, this time the NFC Championship for the fourth time in their history.
They have already been listed as 14 point underdog against the AFC champion New England Patriots, who are still undefeated, but appear to have some holes, albeit small ones. They had to rally late in Week 17 against the Giants—of course, the game was a Giant home game—and they had to fight a scrappy Jacksonville in the Divisional Playoffs.
The San Diego Chargers certainly had their chances in the AFC Championship Game today, but you won’t win many football games—and will never beat this Patriot team—by kicking field goals. Tom Brady throws three interceptions, but still beats you by nine points; that says something about how good the Pats are.
I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, so I will root for the Giants to ruin the perfect season, but something tells me that the pressure is off the Patriots and they will play their best game in Super Bowl 42. All year long, they had to take it one game at a time, unable to look ahead.
Now they can look ahead, because there is only one game left. One game for perfection.