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(Sunday, January 15th)
Final Score: NY Giants 37, Green Bay 20
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Hakeem Nicks' 37-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half proved to be huge, as the New York Giants stunned the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, 37-20, in an NFC divisional playoff game from historic Lambeau Field.
Holding on to a 13-10 lead with six seconds remaining in the first half, Eli Manning launched a Hail Mary-type pass into the end zone. Nicks managed to come down with the ball, giving New York a 10-point cushion at the break.
"It was put in a spot where Hakeem went and got it, and with his outstanding hands was able to hang on to it," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "That gave us a huge lift."
Mario Manningham essentially put the game away in the fourth quarter with a four-yard TD catch for the Giants, who dominated the Falcons, 24-2, last weekend in the wild card round. Brandon Jacobs added a 14-yard TD run late in the final period.
The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl the last time they beat Green Bay in the playoffs. New York took a 23-20 overtime decision over the Packers in the 2007 NFC Championship Game, which proved to be Brett Favre's final appearance in a Green Bay uniform. New York followed up by bouncing then-unbeaten New England in Super Bowl XLII to claim a surprise NFL title as a fifth seed.
These teams met in the regular season this season, with the Packers taking a 38-35 decision over New York on December 4.
The fourth-seeded Giants will head to San Francisco next Sunday to take on the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers beat the Saints, 36-32, on Saturday to advance. San Francisco beat the Giants, 27-20, on November 13.
Green Bay, which went 15-1 in the regular season, came into the game with a 13-game home winning streak. The Packers had come out on top in each of their previous three divisional round games as the home team after receiving a bye week.
"Disappointed as a football team, disappointed for our fans. We had a heck of a run in the regular season," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Green Bay came into the game with heavy hearts. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin returned to the team Sunday after losing his son this past week. Michael Philbin was found in a river on Monday and a preliminary autopsy has found that he died from drowning.
The Packers won three road playoff games as the sixth seed last season before beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
The life was taken out of the Lambeau Field crowd at the end of the first half. Holding a three-point lead, the Giants took over at their own 31 with 41 seconds left. A 23-yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw on third down put the ball at the 37 of the Packers with six ticks to go. Nicks' great catch in the end zone seemed to spark the Giants.
"That's something we practice every Saturday. All I said was, I've got to go up and get it," Nicks said. "Honestly, I (didn't) know where I landed. When I saw where I was, it was exciting."
The visitors got the second half started with a big defensive play. With the Packers driving, Osi Umenyiora stripped the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands. Deon Grant fell on the loose ball for the Giants.
But New York was unable to take advantage of the turnover. A punt led to a 10- play, 58-yard drive by the Packers. The march ended with a 35-yard Mason Crosby field goal, cutting the gap to 20-13 with 3:50 left in the third.
Green Bay was faced with a 4th-and-5 from the New York 39 early in the fourth. Rodgers was sacked by Michael Boley on the play.
The Giants followed with a 10-play drive that took over five minutes off the clock. Lawrence Tynes' 35-yard field goal made it a 23-13 game with 7:48 to play.
New York used another big defensive play on the ensuing possession. Ryan Grant was stripped by Kenny Phillips after a 10-yard catch. Chase Blackburn picked up the loose ball and raced 40 yards to the Green Bay four.
Manningham followed with a four-yard TD catch to give New York a 30-13 lead with 6:48 remaining.
After Donald Driver caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, the Giants recovered an onside kick. Jacobs capped the scoring with a 14-yard TD run with 2:36 to play.
"This team, organization and fan base expects championships," Rodgers said. "We had a championship-caliber regular season. We didn't play well today."
The Giants started the game with an impressive 13-play, 67-yard drive. Manningham and Victor Cruz each caught key passes on third down to keep the march alive. Manning led the visitors to the 13-yard line, but his pass on 3rd-and-5 fell incomplete. Tynes made a 31-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
It was initially ruled that rookie Randall Cobb fumbled on the ensuing kickoff. Upon further review, it was determined that Cobb's knee was down before he lost the ball. Grant got Green Bay going with a 19-yard run and Jermichael Finley added a 19-yard catch. Just like the Giants, the Packers settled for a 47-yard Crosby field goal with 5:33 to go.
The momentum shifted back to New York when Nicks caught a 66-yard TD pass on the fourth play of the ensuing drive. Nicks caught the ball at midfield, broke through a tackle and sprinted down the left side of the field for a 10-3 lead.
Green Bay responded with a touchdown of its own, but a controversial call occurred during the nine-play drive. On 1st-and-10 from the New York 38, Greg Jennings seemed to fumble after catching a six-yard pass. Following some confusion on the field by the refs, it was ruled a non-fumble. New York challenged the call and it looked like Jennings fumbled before his knee hit the ground. However, the refs went with the original call on the field. A 16- yard catch-and-run by James Jones put the ball at the 11. On the first play of the second quarter, Rodgers used a nice-play action fake to find a wide-open John Kuhn for an eight-yard score.
The Packers followed with a surprise onside kick, but it failed to work. The Giants took over at the Green Bay 41. A nice defensive stand forced the visitors to try a field goal. Linebacker Brad Jones blocked Tynes' 40-yard attempt to keep it a 10-10 game.
The trading continued late in the first half, this time in the form of turnovers. Manning was picked off by Morgan Burnett deep in Green Bay territory.
But Kuhn lost control of the ball on the fourth play of the ensuing drive. Nicks caught a 29-yard pass to put New York at the five. The Packers, though, used a good defensive stand to force a 23-yard Tynes field goal with 1:51 remaining.
These two storied franchises met for the seventh time in the postseason...Manning completed 21-of-33 passes for 330 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Nicks caught seven passes for 165 yards and two scores...Rodgers connected on 26-of-46 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also carried the ball seven times for 66 yards...Green Bay played a home playoff game for the first time since the aforementioned 2007 NFC Championship Game.
01/15 22:14:40 ET