Posted: Jan 15, 2012 8:12 PM by Jordan Mason
The New York Giants became the only road team to win in this month's NFL playoffs, stunning the Green Bay Packers 37-20 Sunday to advance to the NFC championship game.
With huge plays from their offense and defense, plus plenty of help from the mistake-plagued Packers, the Giants got their second consecutive playoff victory at Lambeau Field. The previous win, in 2008, lifted them into the Super Bowl. This one got them a trip to San Francisco for the NFC championship game next weekend.
"This team knows how to win on the road," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It seems like right now it's our time."
Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns for the second straight week, Hakeem Nicks caught two of his scoring throws - one a 37-yard desperation pass at the end of the first half - and the Giants (11-7) forced four turnovers from the usually precise defending Super Bowl champions and had four sacks.
"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."
Not much was exciting for the defending champions. The Packers were sloppy, rusty and perhaps dispirited by the shocking death of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's 21-year-old son. There were the turnovers, dropped passes, poor tackling and indecisive pass coverage - things that didn't damage them in a 15-1 regular season that included a 38-35 win at the Giants.
"We just turned the ball over too many times to win," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Got to give them credit, they play well on defense, they had a good plan, but we had a lot of chances to execute and didn't do it. We put our defense in a tough spot a couple times, and that's why our season is over."
On Saturday, the NFC West champion 49ers (14-3) rallied in the final moments to beat New Orleans 36-32 in an epic playoff game. New York lost 27-20 at San Francisco in November. The 49ers are an early 2 1-2-point favorite
Baltimore forced four turnovers and beat the Houston Texans 20-13 Sunday in the AFC divisional round. The Ravens are 9-0 at home this season.
Ed Reed's interception late in the fourth quarter sealed it, and the Ravens (13-4) didn't commit a penalty or have a turnover. The only scoring in the second half was Billy Cundiff's 44-yard field goal with 2:52 remaining.
Baltimore's prize: a trip to Foxborough next Sunday for a berth in the Super Bowl. New England is a 7 1-2-point favorite.
"When we got up 17-3, the No. 1 thing I told them is: 'They're going to make a rally,'" linebacker Ray Lewis said to his teammates. "Every great team makes a rally. And this is what playoff football is all about. I mean, year after year and time after time, great competition going against each other, it really does get no better."
On Saturday, New England silenced Tebowmania 45-10 as Tom Brady tied an NFL record with six TD passes and broke another with five in the first half.
"We know we have a big test next week," Lewis said. "Tom is playing excellent up there, and what they did to the Broncos last night, I think they sent a message to whoever was coming up there. So, we've got our hands full and we've got to go up and get ready to play in the AFC championship."
The Texans (11-7), who made the playoffs for the first time in their 10-year existence, had five sacks and held the Ravens to 227 yards. But Joe Flacco's TD passes of 1 yard to Kris Wilson and 10 to Anquan Boldin, plus Cundiff's field goals of 48 and 44 yards were enough offense for Baltimore.