Giants beat Packers in OT in NFL's 3rd coldest game

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Lawrence Tynes atoned for a pair of big misses in a huge way.

Tynes kicked a 47-yard field goal with 12:25 to play in overtime to lift the the New York Giants to a 23-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The victory sent the Giants into a matchup with the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on February 3 at Glendale, Arizona.

It will be a rematch of the final game of the regular season, when the Patriots rallied from a 12-point, second-half deficit for a 38-35 victory.

New York had to overcome a ton of adversity, including a pair of missed field goals in the final 6:49 by Tynes, who misfired badly on a 36-yard attempt as time ran out in regulation. The Giants also had a 48-yard TD run by Ahmad Bradshaw with 2:05 left called back due to a holding call.

"Our team has the heart, there's no question about it, these guys are something," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "They play hard, they never say die and they found the way to win."

Green Bay won the coin toss for the overtime session, but New York cornerback Corey Webster intercepted Brett Favre on the second play from scrimmage and returned it to the Packers' 34-yard line.

Two short runs by Bradshaw and an incomplete pass by Eli Manning forced the Giants to bring out Tynes again. But this time, he split the uprights, connecting on the first postseason field goal over 40 yards by an opposing team in the history of Lambeau Field.

"I thought about it, I thought about going for it," said Coughlin of opting to have Tynes attempt the kick. "I looked for a sign and they were anxious to go do that, they were anxious to kick it. It was a good sign for me that Lawrence felt like he could make it."

The Giants set a league record by winning their 10th straight road game in one season and also avenged a 35-13 loss to the Packers in Week Two in denying Favre a third trip to the Super Bowl.

"It feels great. We're here. I think we're deserving of it," Manning said. "I'm very excited. I might be a hard guy to read sometimes but right now I'm excited as I can be."

Manning completed 21-of-40 passes for 254 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions to send New York to the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years.

"The focus of Eli was outstanding," Coughlin said. "He just willed himself to play well."

Wide receiver Plaxico Burress was immense for the Giants, hauling in 11 passes for 154 yards. Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw augmented the passing attack by combining to rush for 130 yards on 37 carries, helping New York hold the ball for just over 40 minutes.

Conversely, the Giants' defense shut down Green Bay's running game, holding Ryan Grant to just 29 yards on 13 carries one week after he rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns against Seattle.

Despite a temperature of minus-1 degree at kickoff, both offenses were surprisingly efficient, particularly in a back-and-forth third quarter.

Penalties played a pivotal role as each team scored a touchdown on its opening possession of the second half.

The Giants caught a break when an interception by Al Harris was negated by a penalty, and a subsequent roughing-the-passer call set up Jacobs' 1-yard run, giving New York a 13-10 lead with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Green Bay answered right back, getting great field position on a 49-yard kickoff return by Tramon Williams. The drive appeared to stall, but Giants cornerback Sam Madison was whistled for unnecessary roughness, giving the Packers a first down at the 12-yard line.

Favre capitalized on the next play, finding tight end Donald Lee alone in the back of the end zone to reclaim the lead, 17-13, with five minutes to play in the third.

Manning again rallied the Giants, moving the team 57 yards on seven plays. Amani Toomer had a sensational diving 23-yard catch to set up Bradshaw's 4-yard run, which put New York back in front, 20-17, with 2:12 to play in the quarter.

The Giants' defense then came up big when cornerback R.W. McQuarters picked off an errant pass by Favre, his third pick in three games. But he was stripped by running back Ryan Grant on the return and the ball popped right into the hands of Packers lineman Mark Tauscher at New York's 19-yard line.

That set up rookie Mason Crosby's second field goal, a 37-yarder, to deadlock it at 20-20 with 11:46 to play.

Despite having an edge in play in the first half, the Giants went into the locker room trailing, 10-6, primarily due to two big passes - one the Packers made and one New York could not.

Behind the passing of Manning, the Giants forged a 6-0 lead on a pair of field goals by Tynes.

After Tynes' second kick with 11:41 left in the first half, the Giants seemed to have all the momentum, especially when Koren Robinson fumbled the ensuing kickoff that teammate Williams recovered at the 10-yard line.

Pinned deep in their own end and having accumulated just 27 yards of offense on their first three possessions, the momentum swung back to the Packers on one play.

Favre floated a pass down the right sideline to Donald Driver, who broke away from press coverage by Corey Webster and outran the Giants' secondary for a 90-yard score - the longest play in Green Bay's illustrious postseason history.

The Packers extended the lead to 10-6 on Crosby's 36-yard field goal with 1:30 left in the half, but Manning brought the Giants right back downfield, attempting to duplicate last week's clutch first half-ending drive against the Dallas Cowboys.

Manning connected with Burress for the seventh time in the half, a 32-yard strike to Green Bay's 36-yard line with 48 seconds to go.

On the very next play, Manning found Burress again down the right sideline. But the ball was jarred loose when Burress hit the ground at the 2-yard line, resulting in an incomplete pass.

New York moved no further and the drive ended when Manning was sacked on 4th-and-11 by linebacker A.J. Hawk.

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