The New York Giants have won their last three games successively against the New York Jets, the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons. They won their wild card game against the Falcons handsomely 24-2, but this isn’t the Falcons at Lambeau Field. It is the Green Bay Packers with the first-ranked quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the regular season in terms of quarterback rating with 122.5. The Giants ringer will have to be their spectacular wideout Victor Cruz who was ranked third in reception yards with 1,536 during the regular season. Cruz will have to give one of his best performances this season to contend. Will Eli Manning bring his 2007 magic to this game? (I think we can forget Tim Tebow’s magic after yesterday’s rout by the New England Patriots.) Or will the Green Bay Packers offensive juggernaut decimate their defense?
Now to the post-game analysis:
- After the New York Giants methodically moved down the field with Eli Manning at their helm, their series was halted as the Green Bay Packers defense locked down. A 31-yard field goal by the Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes brings the score to 3-0 Giants with 8:37 in the first quarter.
- After Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers torched the zone coverage of the Giants, he could not make a touchdown as the Giants defense clinched down. Their kicker Mason Crosby kicked a 47-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 with 5:38 in the first.
- Eli Manning threw a dart to his wideout Hakeem Nicks for a 66-yard touchdown reception with 4 minutes left in the first quarter. Nicks broke a tackle, and the Giants take the lead again 10-3.
- After a short punt by Lawrence Tynes to the Green Bay 40-yard line and a (controversial) fumble challenge overturned, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers torched the zone coverage yet again. He tossed an easy 8-yard touchdown reception to his fullback John Kuhn to tie the game 10-10 at the beginning of the second quarter.
- After a stunning onside kick by the Green Bay Packers and recovery by the New York Giants, kicker Lawrence Tynes field-goal is blocked at Green Bay’s 21-yard line with 12:37 in the second.
- After an interception of Eli Manning by Packers safety Morgan Burnett and a Giants fumble recovery of Packers John Kuhn on the Packers 43-yard line, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes kicked a 23-yard field goal as the series stalled at the Packers 5-yard line with 1:56 left until halftime.
- After a Hail Mary from Green Bay Packers 37-yard line with 6 seconds left, Hakeem Nicks caught the ball for a touchdown and brings the Giants score to 20-10. That was an amazing catch!
- After a 7-yard sack-fumble by Aaron Rodgers recovered by Giants safety Deon Grant at the Giants 3o-yard line, Eli Manning and his Giants stalled and forced to punt.
- After the 12 and 29-yard rush by Packers running back James Starks, the Packers drive stalled the Giants 17-yard line, and Mason Crosby kicked a 35-yard field goal to bring the score to 20-13 with 3:55 left in third quarter.
- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets sacked for a 6-yard loss by linebacker Michael Boley and defensive end Osi Umenyiora on a 4th and 5 from Giants 39-yard line early fourth quarter.
- Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes boot a field goal from the Packers 17-yard line to bring the score to 23-13 with 7:53 left in the game.
- The Giants recovered the football from Packers running back Ryan Grant at the Packers 4-yard line. Immediately, Eli Manning passed a 4-yard touchdown to his wideout Mario Manningham with 6:53 left in the game. The Giants are up 30-13.
- After a 16-yard rush by Aaron Rodgers and controversial roughing-the-passer call on Osi Umenyiora, Rodgers threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to his wide receiver Donald Driver with 4:52 in the game. The Packers close the score 30-20.
- With an onside recovery by the Giants Victor Cruz and a 24-yard rush by Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs sealed the game with a 14-yard touchdown rush to bring the score of 37-20 with 2:44 left in the game.
- With one last gasp from Packers Aaron Rodgers, he was intercepted by Deon Grant at the Packers 36-yard line with 1:56 left on the clock.
The first half was the half of defenses. Neither the Green Bay Packers or the New York Giants would break, but they both shown that they can bend. Giants quarterback Eli Manning demonstrated that he could keep up with the Packers Aaron Rodgers. Again, like with the previous divisional playoff games, the running game was stymied for both teams although it affected the Giants more. The Giants had a meager 37 total yards rushing into the half. The shining star into the half was Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks with 152 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Lastly, the referees were giving both teams trouble as they were giving contradictory signals — again.
The second half was the tale of the New York Giants defense. Michael Boley and Osi Umenyiora caused trouble in the backfield and pressured Aaron Rodgers persistently and consistently. The fumble recoveries by Deon Grant and Chase Blackburn critically changed the face of the game toward the Giants favor. The Packers receivers dropping the ball, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy questionable play calls (at times) and Giants onside recoveries helped them more. Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s old-school conservative game-plan worked well against one of the better offenses in the league and won the game 37-20.
The New York Giants will face the similarly defensive-minded Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers next in the NFC Championship game. The New York Giants red-hot defense and the San Francisco consistent defense will come head-to-head, and both defenses can change the face of the game easily. Both Alex Smith and Eli Manning have their work cut out for them. In the meantime, it looks like Aaron Rodgers will continue doing more State Farm commercials with B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews in his spare time not in the playoffs. Or not.