Giants pound Packers 37-20, earn shot at the 49ers
Another stellar effort by a big-play offense, five takeaways by the defense, and the Giants are on their way to the NFC Championship Game at second-seeded San Francisco because of a 37-20 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
As safety Deon Grant cradled the final interception of the day, achieved with less than two minutes to go, it became apparent that Lambeau and its supposedly bitter weather held the same advantages as MetLife Stadium for the Giants. This was the second time since the 2007 conference championship game that the Giants beat the Packers in Green Bay — only that Packers team wasn’t the defending Super Bowl champ, didn’t own a 19-game home winning streak, and failed to benefit from temperatures that were some 40 degrees colder.
The Giants also won the Super Bowl that year, a possibility that became more realistic with Sunday’s victory over a high-powered offense that had averaged 35 points per game this year.
With Eli Manning going 21-of-33 for 333 yards, one interception and three touchdowns — including a 37-yard Hail Mary scoring throw to Hakeem Nicks (seven catches, 165 yards, two TDs) — the offense hammered away at the Packers’ last-ranked defense.
The Giants’ defense, helped by eight drops from Aaron Rodgers’ receivers, applied steady pressure to force him to move, scramble, and rush a number of key throws. The Giants allowed 388 total yards, but sacked Rodgers’ four times, three times in key situations. The biggest sack came early in the fourth quarter when, down 20-13, Rodgers went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Giants’ 39 and went down under linebacker Michael Boley’s second sack of the game.
Osi Umenyiora also had two sacks, including a strip-sack that short-circuited another drive.
But it was the offense that truly helped the Giants win their second playoff game since their 2007 Super Bowl run. Nicks made three tackle-breaking receptions, and Victor Cruz, with five catches for 74 yards, caught several passes that helped the Giants convert eight of 16 third down situations.
Brandon Jacobs had just 22 yards in the Giants’ 95-yard ground attack, but he put the game on ice with his 14-yard touchdown run with just 2:36 remaining and the Packers out of timeouts.