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NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
PLAYOFFS 2 - 0: ON TO THE OTHER BAY!
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NEWARK STAR LEDGER
GIANTS-PACKERS GAME REVIEW
"Travel to and from Green Bay was a nightmare. Fares were through the roof
(and then unavailable by the time the Giants' game against the Atlanta Falcons
was over. In short, I had to drive to Chicago after the game and then head to
the airport two hours later.
Long story short, I didn't watch this game as in-depth as usual, but I got
through it much more quickly than I had hoped. The fact this is up before Monday
became Tuesday is actually a major victory.
But as always, help us out by filling in the gaps and giving us what you
* * * *
QB Eli Manning. My wife is off from work today so when I got
home this morning, she was giving me her version of a game review. (I lead the
league in gassers in her reviews.) She’s a football novice but she’s learning
with each game during this run here. She told me, “Eli doesn’t run very much.
Not like Aaron Rodgers. He runs all the time.” Three plays into the game review,
I rewound his throw to WR Mario Manningham when he had LB Desmond Bishop coming
right at him and said, “No, he doesn’t run much. But this is how he uses his
feet, to slide just enough in the pocket to buy time for the receiver to
complete the route. He’s done that better this year than ever.” QBs
coach Mike Sullivan and his unorthodox drills are a big reason why. Also,
we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention, “The Block” on RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s run in
the fourth quarter. “We had to hear about the scramble and now we’ll have to
hear about ‘The Block,’” RG Chris Snee said. “It’ll be called ‘The Block.’” One
minor, minor qualm, though: Manning could’ve run for the first down on
third-and-5 on the opening drive. The presence of LB A.J. Hawk made him rethink
that one at the last minute and the pass fell incomplete.
Coach Tom Coughlin. “We must be what, 0-for-100 by now?”
Coughlin said of replay challenges. Close. They’ve lost eight in a row. But
frankly, it’s the only area of Coughlin’s jurisdiction that’s been slipping of
late. He’s got this team believing and the way guys like S Antrel Rolle have
bought in is kind of incredible.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The players said
afterward the game plan was to defend the edges of the field and keep everything
the Packers did to the inside and underneath. You could see the way the
cornerbacks took their drops that’s exactly what they were doing. It was a
smart, smart plan because Rodgers had killed the Giants near the sideline in
their first meeting. Not so much Sunday. Take a look at the difference between
the first and second meeting of these teams in Rodgers’ passes outside the
numbers, per an
ESPN stat (on the right side of the page): 21-for-25 and three touchdowns in
Week 13, 11-for-23 and zero touchdowns on Sunday.
Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn. Rookie LB Greg Jones
and S Derrick Martin didn’t budge on the surprise onside kick after the 49ers
were successful in catching
the Giants napping earlier this season. Quinn took a lot of heat last
season, but Coughlin stood by him and was quick to praise him and assistant
special teams coach Larry Izzo on Sunday. I’m not sure what happened on the
blocked field goal. It looked like OT Tony Ugoh stumbled a bit.
Manningham. I mean, is anybody watching film of the
Giants inside the 10-yard line? How can you not guard against that play-action
quick slant behind the linebackers by now? Anyway, nice job by Manningham, who
had three catches – two for third-down conversions and one for a touchdown.
WR Victor Cruz. Speaking of third-down conversions, he
caught three of them. But get this: today, he was asked where the onside-kick
recovery ranks on his list of plays this year and said, “Probably No. 1.” His
point was it helped seal a divisional-round game over the defending champs, but
I think he’s too quickly forgetting any of the five touchdowns of 65 yards or
more he had this season.
Martin. He’s flown under the radar this year because he’s a
special-teamer but he’s a popular guy with his teammates and a heady player,
according to those who line up next to him.
Jones. As I said, he didn't budge. He also nearly forced a
fumble on that kickoff in the first quarter. He's been very good on
WR Hakeem Nicks. You need only to watch Packers CB Jarrett
Bush’s reaction to his Hail Mary catch to see how it “broke their backs,” as
Brandon Jacobs put it. And speaking of the Hail Mary, I had a guy mention to
me on Twitter he objects to that term being used because that was a great throw
and catch. I wouldn’t go that far, but it wasn’t a Hail Mary like the Jaguars’ catch nearly
making Gus Johnson’s head explode was a Hail Mary. This wasn’t luck. It was
skill. And it was badly misplayed by Bush and outside CB Sam Shields, who
trailed the play and didn’t hustle toward Nicks in the end zone. There was no
threat underneath them and even if there was, there was no time left on the
clock, so a tackle in the field of play ends the half. As for S Charlie Peprah,
I wonder if he thought the ball was going to carry a bit more in the wind. The
only quote I saw from him was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said he "didn’t
get off the ground the way I wanted to. He just made a better play on the
ball than I did.”
RT Kareem McKenzie. I
mentioned in my game preview the Giants would keep a close eye on LB Clay
Matthews, especially when they wanted to take their shots downfield. They did
just that. It’s obvious the Packers early on were trying to use Matthews as a
bit of a decoy at times by sending him up the field and then bringing a blitzer
underneath him. The Giants’ backs, tight ends and McKenzie did a very good job
for the most part of staying composed and picking up the right players.
Bradshaw. While we’re talking about blitz pickups, how about
the one he had when he went low on Bishop on TE Travis Beckum’s 10-yard catch on
the opening drive? A big reason why that’s effective is Bradshaw doesn’t always
rely on the cut block. He’ll go toe-to-toe with a linebacker without even
blinking. When you dive at ankles too often, blitzers will know it’s coming.
Bradshaw has the guts to stick his face mask in there, so it was effective
there. Oh, and he also had that 23-yard cutback run we were gushing about last
night. You know, the one that made the Hail Mary to Nicks possible. Even Snee
said it was a “shock” to see Bradshaw suddenly on his right after taking a pitch
to the left. Terrific, big-time play.
LB Michael Boley. I want to give Fewell and his assistants
more props on this one because they helped make Boley’s first sack possible with
great design up front. DE Osi Umenyiora ran a twist with a standing DE Justin
Tuck to Boley’s right and that forced RT Bryan Bulaga to slide down inside a bit
before he picked up Tuck looping toward him. At that point, Boley has a ton of
room inside of him. Now, time to credit Boley for being physical with RB James
Starks to take away Rodgers’ escape hatch to his right. That left him only to
step up into the pocket. Once Boley shed Starks and crashed down on Rodgers,
that outlet was gone, too. I’ll have more on Boley’s crucial sack on
fourth-and-5 down below. Boley now has three sacks in the regular season and
playoffs combined: two of Rodgers and one of Tom Brady. Not too shabby right
S Kenny Phillips. I thought he just got lucky when he
knocked the ball from RB Ryan Grant to set up a touchdown that gave the Giants a
S Deon Grant. He came down on Grant to knock a ball out of
his hands on a short hook. He also had an interception in the fourth quarter.
But most importantly and impressively, he fell on his sword after the game when
about a shoving match with TE Jermichael Finley and said it was absolutely
his fault for overreacting. Very, very admirable right there.
Rolle. See the under-the-radar play.
Umenyiora. He's absolutely right when he says he'd be among
the sack leaders had he played 16 games.
CB Aaron Ross. If Umenyiora doesn’t come through with a
strip sack, we might be writing much different stories today. (See below.) But
he did and Ross had an otherwise solid game. He just needs to remember to
hydrate well, which has been an issue for him in the past.
CB Corey Webster. He didn't show up much. That's a good
Packers WR Donald Driver. He made an outstanding catch with
Phillips reaching into the “basket” (that’s what Herm Edwards called the
receivers’ hands in my
Sunday story) in the third quarter. While watching that play live, I saw
Phillips crashing down and didn’t think Driver had a prayer of catching that.
Later, he made an outstanding leaping catch with LB Jacquian Williams all over
him and I starred that play as a potential turning point for Green Bay’s
offense. It wasn’t, though Driver isn’t to blame for that.
Bishop. He was not one of the Packers I’d describe as rusty
and played an outstanding game, particularly with his pressures up the
Packers LB Brad Jones. Blocked field goal and a sack in the
* * * *
Rodgers. He and his targets were definitely out of synch,
though his reactions told me he believed it was more them than him. Early in the
third quarter, on a misfire to WR Greg Jennings, who got behind Ross in man
coverage, Rodgers seemed to want Jennings to continue up the seam instead of
bending his route a bit to the middle. Jennings adjusted because Phillips was
deep to the outside, presumably as part of that contain coverage the Giants were
playing. The big miss was on the third-and-5 to start the fourth quarter. It
looked like he either wanted Finley to flatten his route out a bit or not sit
down like it appeared Finley did. Troy Aikman said it’s more on Rodgers. I don’t
know about that one.
* * * *
Peprah. “You have to tackle in the playoffs,” he said. Yes,
and you have to wrap to tackle. In all, I counted nine missed tackles for 92
extra yards for the Packers through two-plus quarters. I stopped counting at
some point late in the third quarter.
Bush and Shields. See above.
Finley, Grant, Starks,
Packers FB John Kuhn, TE Tom Crabtree. Drops
and fumbles from this bunch.
Referee Bill Leavy and his crew. Between the botched replay,
the helmet-to-helmet hit by Umenyiora that never came close to happening, the
helmet-to-helmet hit by Bishop on Manning that actually did happen but wasn’t
called and a few other missed calls, that was a bad job by that crew.
* * * *
Maybe I’m trying to be a bit too smart for the room again, but the open-field
tackle by Rolle on Starks at the end of his 29-yard run turned out to be a big
one. When I saw Starks get the edge, I thought he was gone. Rolle came down to
cut the angle and get a piece of Starks as he tried to cut back. It was Rolle or
the end zone there and Rolle won.
The Packers wound up settling for a field goal that made it 20-13. If they
get a touchdown there, the game takes on a new feel. Plus, when the Giants kick
a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, it’s still a one-possession game
and the Packers can take the lead with a field goal.
But that’s not the way it played out, thanks to an unheralded play by Rolle,
which was followed by his excellent pass defensed on a fade in the end zone a
few plays later. That was a dandy because he avoided Driver when he crossed with
Jennings in an attempt to rub him off the route.
* * * *
I was telling someone recently the NFL should just do what the NHL does with
its replay system and have everything reviewed in the “War Room” (though not the
one in Toronto). PFT’s Mike Florio, a hockey buff, mentioned
that same concept on Sunday night. I’m waiting to hear back from the league
on the fumble by Jennings that was twice ruled down by contact, but Fox’s
Mike Pereira agreed it should’ve been ruled a fumble. Bad job
by Leavy and the replay official there. It’s clear they thought Jennings’ calf
was down before the ball started to move but that’s not the way I saw it. There
has to be a way to make these rulings more consistent and accurate. To me, if
there’s a way to bump this up the chain of command to a more centralized
decision-maker, I’m all for it.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul badly wanted a holding call on Packers
LT Chad Clifton on a second-and-9 late in the second quarter.
Of all the holding calls the players and coaches were begging for, that one
brought with it the best case because Clifton prevented him from working back to
the line of scrimmage after getting a good push upfield. Still, he was
complaining about it far too long. After the next play, in fact.
The other holding complaint that had some juice to it was when Tuck got
tackled by Bulaga on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.
I know the Packers wanted the wind and that’s why they deferred after winning
the opening toss. I’m not second guessing that decision at all. I just wonder if
this game was played over again today, would they decide to put their offense on
the field first? That long Giants drive to open the game, even though it only
netted a field goal, did exactly what they wanted it to do: play keep-away from
Rodgers & Co.
Pereira tweeted the spot on RB D.J. Ware’s run on
third-and-2 after Umenyiora’s strip sack was a good
one. I don’t know what angle he saw but I’ve watched the broadcast view a
few times now and Ware certainly doesn’t look a half-yard short of the stick. I
mean, he might be short by inches but I don’t see it from the high sideline
view, which didn’t show the ball because it was obstructed by Ware’s body. Maybe
Pereira had a different angle in the studio. In any event, that was a pretty
powerful run by Ware to spin off Bishop and even come close to the stick. It was
reminiscent to a run by Jacobs against Atlanta to pick up a first down.
One good call by the officials was when they didn’t flag CB Charles
Woodson for pass interference when he jammed Beckum in the fourth
quarter. It looked like the contact happened before the ball left Manning’s
hand. And that’s after I slowed it down to watch it. They got it correct
* * * *
ODDS AND (TIGHT) ENDS
I ran out of room in Boley’s game ball so I’ll tackle it here because there’s
an interesting moment right before his sack on fourth-and-5 that was pretty much
the defensive play of the game. Tuck is standing and signaling to Umenyiora.
They were obviously working out some kind of twist there. But then, Tuck says
what sounded like, “(Forget) it,” and puts his hand in the dirt. From the look
of things, Umenyiora might’ve missed Tuck nixing whatever they were planning
because he tries to loop into the “A” gap only to see Tuck has rushed there. If
Boley doesn’t get his outstanding rush from the outside to get around RB
Brandon Saine and get a hand on Rodgers, there’s a big hole for
Rodgers to step up, escape and either run for the first down or buy time to
throw to the crossing WR Jordy Nelson. But Boley got there and
held on for a big, big play.
Joe Buck and Aikman were trying to figure out why the Giants
called a timeout before their third play from scrimmage. They guessed there was
a substitution issue and that’s exactly what it was. You hate to burn a timeout
that early, but the Giants had an extra guy on the field. Bradshaw was in the
slot in a six-receiver set. As you know, that’s impossible because five linemen
plus a quarterback and six receivers is too many on the field. The Packers
wanted a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty and I’m not sure how the Giants weren’t
nailed for that one because you can’t see the huddle on the broadcast. Had they
been backed up another 5 yards there, maybe they don’t convert the third-down
pass to Manningham (It went for 19 yards, but who knows how the extra 5 would’ve
changed the calls on both sides) and that important long first drive doesn’t
Speaking of Aikman and Fox, good job by them immediately identifying
Umenyiora had saved a TD with his strip sack because Jennings had gotten past
Ross. Aikman saw it right away and they had the replay ready when they came back
from break. Now, one I thought they might’ve missed while watching live was a
second-and-7 check-down pass from Rodgers to Starks. I would’ve loved to see a
wide-angle replay there because Driver
had gotten past Rolle and appeared to be open enough for Rodgers to take a
shot. It seems like he’s looking in Driver’s general direction but never takes
the shot. Live, I thought it was there for the taking.
One more note about the touchdown Umenyiora saved: that was probably set up
in the Packers’ minds by Ross’ breaking on an earlier pass that could’ve been a
pick six had Rodgers not delivered it close to the sideline. The coaches
probably thought Ross couldn’t wait to get his hands on another one. If so, they
timed the double-move call perfectly. The only problem was Clifton and
LG T.J. Lang didn’t stop Umenyiora on a swim move between
The Packers have a go-to play for them they tried in the third quarter on a
deep ball to Nelson Ross knocked down. It’s a fake stretch play to the right and
a throwback deep to the left. The Giants obviously scouted that one well.
Packers S Morgan Burnett had a pretty good game. He got his
hand on a pass for TE Jake Ballard in the end zone and also
made a very nice tackle on Jacobs in the fourth quarter. Burnett avoided a stiff
arm and got to Jacobs’ body. That’s not easy to do.
GIANTS' TOM COUGHLIN DOESN'T AGREE WITH TWO QUESTIONABLE RULINGS IN WIN OVER PACKERS
I thought Bradshaw was going to rip apart at the knees when Matthews chased
him down from behind on first-and-goal two plays after Kuhn fumbled. Good hustle
by Matthews, as always, and good flexibility on Bradshaw’s part because that
could’ve been ugly. It looked like he might’ve slid a bid on the turf, which
I didn’t see when Kuhn got injured while watching live. Now I see when. And
now I see why. LB Mathias Kiwanuka absolutely crushed him while
Kuhn tried to stick him on a lead block. That wasn’t what caused the injury. The
problem was Crabtree threw Rolle down into his legs. But the only reason he was
in position for that to happen was Kiwanuka blasted him backward. Another
outstanding physical play for him that didn’t make the stat sheet.
Ross said a big reason for the secondary’s improved play of late is “the
after-work studying is really helping us a lot. About a month and a half now at
my house, Kenny’s house and Corey’s house.” They used to do one night of group
studying a week. “Now, we do like three nights,” Ross said.
Snee said Packers DL B.J. Raji came up to him to talk about Raji’s saying the
Giants’ offensive line isn’t as “physical” as other units. “First of all, me and
B.J. are cool and he immediately said at the beginning of the game that was
blown out of proportion. And I believe him,” Snee said. “He’s a heckuva player.
They’ve got a bunch of big bodies inside. It was tough sledding for the running
The Packers should’ve seen the Giants’ draw play when they called a timeout
right before Bradshaw’s run and realized the Giants were content with running
the ball and heading into halftime with a 3-point lead. In fact, they did the
Giants a favor by calling that timeout. You’d have to figure the draw up the
middle wasn’t going to allow Bradshaw to get out of bounds, even though
LT David Diehl said the linemen thought they were going to gash
the Packers’ three-man front there. On the next play, Green Bay was still in a
three-down front and Bradshaw was able to work his magic.
And finally, at the end of Bradshaw’s 23-yard run, who was waiting with open
arms on the sideline for him? Mitch Petrus. No
apology necessary this time. Oh, and I finally got to Petrus to ask him what
the heck he was saying and why in that clip from the Falcons game. He insists he
was talking about a play from much later in the game and not the safety. Plus,
he said he was out of breath at the time so that’s why he was tough to
understand. … Sigh … I liked our version so much better."
"Tom Coughlin, like basically everyone who has seen the replays, doesn't have
an explanation for two calls officials made that ultimately allowed the Packers
to go on to score their two touchdowns in the Giants'
37-20 win Sunday.
First there was the apparent fumble by Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings.
Giants safety Deon Grant stripped Jennings late in the first quarter and replays
showed that Jennings' knee was not down prior to the ball coming out as ruled on
the field. Yet, even after going under the hood when Coughlin challenged the
play, referee Bill Leavy did not overturn the ruling.
Five plays later, Aaron Rodgers connected with fullback John Kuhn for an
eight-yard touchdown, which tied the game at 10 early in the second quarter.
When asked about the play, Coughlin said he "doubts" he will receive an
explanation from the league.
"There is, but I won't get into it," Coughlin said when asked if he saw
something on film that made the ruling any clearer one way or another, an
indication that he didn't agree with the call.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, citing Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL
Rule Book, told the Star-Ledger in an email that Leavy ruled Jennings' calf to
be down on the play and didn't need his knee to be down.
"Referee Bill Leavy conducted the instant replay video review and determined
that there was no indisputable visual evidence to warrant reversing the on-field
ruling of down by contact." Aiello wrote. "As a result, the ruling on the field
On 3rd-and-10 with 6:28 remaining in the game and the Giants leading 30-13,
Rodgers' pass to Donald Driver fell incomplete setting up an all-or-nothing
fourth down. But Rodgers was hit by Osi Umenyiora as he released the pass and an
official threw a flag, ruling the hit to be helmet-to-helmet.
Once again, replays prove otherwise. The Packers capitalized scoring a
touchdown six plays later when Rodgers found Driver for a 16-yard score to give
them some semblance of life.
When asked why he thought the penalty was called Coughlin said, "I have no
What he does know is that it was a legal play and one that he won't
discourage his players from doing.
"Aggressive football play," Coughlin described it as. "The quarterback is
following through as he releases the ball. The hit is from the side, there’s not
helmet involved, it’s from shoulders to waist. We’ll coach that one
forever."NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: OSI UMENYIORA WITH GIANTS TODAY DUE TO ERNIE ARCORSI'S STUBBORNNESS
Excerpt: "The Giants defense has been a
stubborn unit this postseason, conceding 22 points in two games. Sunday, the
unit smothered the NFL's No. 3 offense this season, by means of forcing
timely turnovers and consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay
Peter King wrote today that the stubbornness of former Giants general
manager Ernie Accorsi benefited the Giants once again Sunday.
In the trade that landed Eli Manning with the Giants, on draft day in 2004,
the San Diego Chargers would not relinquish the soon-to-be Giants quarterback
without acquiring defensive end Osi Umenyiora as part of the compensation, King
Accorsi refused to yield, even though Umenyiora was a little known player at
the time. The dividends were once again felt by the Giants Sunday, when
Umenyiora's strip-sack of Rodgers (the 32nd forced fumble of Umenyiora's career)
proved a pivotal moment in the second half of the Giants' victory." Read more...NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: ELI MANNING, GIANTS, WILL FACE HISTORICAL DISADVANTAGE AT CANDLESTICK PARK
Excerpt: "The Giants face the San Francisco
49ers Sunday in the NFC Championship Game with a trip to the Super Bowl at
stake. The following pieces tell the 49ers' side of the story leading up the
Lynch, San Francisco Chronicle: Unlike the Giants, who have won four road
playoff games under Tom Coughlin, the 49ers have historically struggled --
they're only won twice on the road in the postseason since 1957. Luckily, with
the Giants' victory, the 49ers will play Sunday at Candlestick Park, where they
are 18-4 since 1980, including Saturday's victory over the New Orleans
Tafur, Chronicle: 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, who intercepted Eli
Manning twice when the teams met in San Francisco on Nov. 13, watched Sunday's
game between the Giants and Green Bay Packers in bed. "We got the turnovers
and were able to get to Eli,” Rogers told the Chronicle of the Nov. 13 game.
“The team has gotten better since we played them. They’re familiar with us just
as we’re familiar with them.” Read more...
##SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: A LOOK AT GIANTS' OPPONENT IN NFC TITLE GAME
"After beating the
Green Bay Packers, 37-20, on Sunday in the NFL playoffs, the Giants will next face the San Francisco
49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Here's a look at the meeting:
49ers record: 14-3, won the NFC West and claimed the No. 2
seed in the playoffs.
Last meeting: 49ers
def. Giants, 27-20, at Candlestick Park on Nov. 13.
With the Giants
driving for the would-be tying touchdown, they stalled at the 49ers 10-yard
line. A fourth-down pass by Eli Manning was batted down by Justin Smith, and the
Giants were sent home with the first of four consecutive losses.
WHAT TO KNOW
•?In the year of the tight end in the NFL, the Giants have already faced two
of the best in the postseason — the Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez and Green
Bay’s Jermichael Finley. Neither truly hurt them. Vernon Davis (left) will take
his turn next Sunday. Davis had a game-turning catch-and-run for a touchdown in
the first meeting, and got open for the winning score in the waning seconds Saturday
against the New Orelans Saints. He finished with 180 yards and two TDs.
CHRIS CANTY SAYS HIS KNEE IS OK BUT HE DID NOT FAKE INJURY
•?Sound familiar: The quarterback is the No. 1 overall pick and spends much
of his first few seasons making fans and media wonder if he’ll really every be
worth it. That’s Alex Smith, who in his sixth season has finally found his game.
Some will call him a game manager, and his efficient touchdown-to-interception
ratio of 17-to-5 during the regular season indicates he isn’t asked to do too
much. His performance Saturday against the Saints (299 yards, three TDs, no
picks and a rushing TD) shows he can win, not just manage, a game.
•?You’d be hard-pressed to find a better rushing defense than the 49ers have.
They have yielded all of three touchdowns on the ground in 17 games. The Giants
picked up 93 yards in the first meeting, but only gained an average of 3.2 yards
per carry. (It should be noted that Ahmad Bradshaw did not play that week.) The
49ers made the Saints even more one-dimensional than they seemed the rest of the
season. New Orleans rushed for just 37 yards — an early 17-0 Niners lead helped
take away the Saints’ ground game."
"Chris Canty is fine. Good enough to laugh about his injured knee in the postgame
locker room and relieved enough to take a swipe at the Packers fans who booed
him when he went down with what they believed was a fake injury.
“I heard that, I heard that,” the Giants’ defensive tackle said with a grin
after the team’s 37-20
upset victory in the divisional playoff game today. “The fans pay their
money, they’re entitled to cheer as they see fit or boo as they see fit. It’s
unfortunate they won’t be able to cheer next week.”
Canty seemed to think he had suffered a significant injury at a really bad
time. He also needed help getting off the field. But after being examined by
team doctors, he was cleared to return.
“Just got a little shaken up there at the end but it happens, it’s football,”
Canty said. “I’m a hundred percent, I’m ready to go next week.”
Canty said he let his teammates know right away he’d be okay. But in the
meantime, Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was agreeing with the fans by
saying Canty had taken a dive to slow the Packers’ momentum. (They had gone 60
yards in eight plays, thanks in part to a questionable roughing-the-passer
penalty on Osi Umenyiora.)
Ironically, Deon Grant got into a shoving match with Finley. Grant took a
dive in the Week 2 victory over the Rams and was the subject of scrutiny for
much of the next week.
After the game, Grant said he lost his cool.
“I have to go on air and apologize to (Finley),” he said. “He was mad,
thinking (Canty) was faking and I got at him like, ‘You don’t say nothing unless
you know for a fact the guy is faking.’
“But I took it too far because he calmed down and I kept going and he walked
toward me to talk. I shoved him first.” Read more...
AARON RODGERS STYMIED BY GIANTS' PASS RUSH AS PACKERS FALL
Excerpt: "Aaron Rodgers saw the pocket collapsing and attempted to escape forward, toward
the line of scrimmage. By then, the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s offensive
line resembled a group of falling dominoes as the barrier of protection — and
time to release the ball — grew desperately thin around him.
It was fourth-and-5 in Giants
territory early in the fourth quarter of today’s game at Lambeau Field. The
Packers were trailing by a touchdown and their window of opportunity was
But as important as the play was for Green Bay, it was doomed from the start.
Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora crashed inside, forcing left tackle Chad
Clifton to follow him and abandon any outside rushers.
That left linebacker Michael Boley free to storm in with a one-on-one matchup
against third-string Packer running back Brandon Saine, a rookie who could offer
nothing more than a weak push and a jersey grab to stop him.
Boley wriggled his way toward Rodgers’ ankles and hauled the quarterback
down, finishing off the sack by mimicking Rodgers’ signature touchdown dance,
where he emphatically places a championship belt around his waist.
“We came out today and played some smash-mouth football,” said Jason
Pierre-Paul, who pounced on Rodgers right after Boley.
In the most crucial of moments in today’s 37-20
Giants victory, like that fourth down that silenced the Packers, the Giants
asserted their strongest suit — the pass rush. Rodgers was sacked four times and
took five hits, disrupting an offense that ranked third in the NFL during a
near-perfect regular season.
“We might not have showed most of it during the regular season, but that
doesn’t matter,” Umenyiora said. “This is the postseason and we’re playing the
way we’re supposed to be playing right now.” Read more...
GREEN BAY PACKERS SUFFER A "GREAT LETDOWN" TO GIANTS AT LAMBEAU FIELD
Excerpt: "Aaron Rodgers hadn’t played since Christmas night. And it showed. The rest of
the Green Bay Packers hadn’t competed in two weeks, and it looked like two
Dropped passes. Fumbles. Shaky quarterbacking. And questionable coaching
The Packers suffered from every one of those today as their once-dream season
died with a
37-20 loss to the Giants in the NFC
divisional round. Afterward, Green Bay’s 15-1 regular season — the best in
franchise history — was already forgotten.
“No one’s going to remember the 15-1,” said Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji,
the Westwood High alumnus who spends his offseason in Washington Township and
trains with several of the Giants players. “Now, all they’re going to talk about
is the great letdown at home, in front of your home fans that love you and
Green Bay had won 21 of their previous 22 games, including a victory last
February in Super Bowl XLV. The Packers then won 15 of 16 games this year thanks
in large part to a remarkably crisp offense that posted the second-most points
in NFL history (560).
But the Packers didn’t resemble themselves against the Giants.
Green Bay, which lost just six fumbles in the first 16 games, lost three
against the Giants. The Packers’ receivers combined to drop eight passes. And
Rodgers threw just his seventh interception of the season.
The Packers, who were second in the league in turnover differential at
plus-24, had four turnovers in a game for the first time since Oct. 3, 2010.
“We did not play to our identity,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
It wasn’t just on offense, either.
McCarthy had a curious game plan, first calling an onside kick that failed
early in the second quarter with the game tied at 10. Then, with the Packers
trailing, 20-13, and 13 minutes still left in the game, McCarthy went for it on
fourth-and-5 from the Giants 39 and Rodgers was sacked.
Defensively, the Packers were plagued by busted coverages, sloppy tackling
and an inability to get off the field on third down. The Giants even hit a
37-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks on the final play of the
“Frankly, I think the biggest thing was the self-inflicted wounds,” McCarthy
said. “The dropped balls, I don’t know how many first downs we had. We left some
yards on the field. We had some opportunities to make plays.” Read more...
ELI MANNING ANCHORS GIANTS' WIN OVER PACKERS, SHOWING HIS LEADERSHIP AGAIN
"Almost four years ago to the day that the Giants strolled into Lambeau Field for the
NFC Championship Game as heavy underdogs, their quarterback was viewed as a
weakness that can derail their unlikely postseason run in a blink of an eye.
Today, the stakes were similar; the opponent and setting — though about 40
degrees warmer — the same. So, too, were the expectations. The Giants were
eight-point underdogs against the defending Super Bowl champions, who had not
lost a playoff game since October 2010.
But for Eli Manning, the bar was raised; as opposed to 2008 when the Giants
ground game had fueled them, a brilliant performance was needed from their
quarterback to continue another unexpected postseason run. This time around the
Giants weren’t there in spite of him — their season would’ve ended weeks ago
And he delivered yet again, completing 21 of 33 passes for 330 yards, three
touchdowns and an interception, which combined to equal a pristine quarterback
rating of 114.5. He was in complete control, side-stepping incoming rushers,
zipping passes in tight windows, and converting third downs without an impact
run game for much of the contest in leading the Giants to another upset playoff
win over the
Green Bay Packers at Lambeau, 37-20.
His 21 completions gave him 157 for his postseason career, tying him with
Phil Simms for the franchise record. The Giants’ victory over the 15-1 Packers
was Manning’s fourth career road playoff victory — tying an NFL record — and put
him two wins away from becoming the 11th quarterback to win multiple Super
Through two games this postseason, he is 44-of-65 for 607 yards, six
touchdowns and an interception.
“I think it is his mentality. It is his approach,” coach Tom Coughlin said
when asked why his quarterback plays so well in the playoffs. “Nobody sees what
he does behind the scenes. He is a studier and a pounder.”
Today’s performance was another page in a growing chapter of a season that
began with him proclaiming that he belonged in the discussion among elite NFL,
which at the time drew snickers from critics.
But he has gone out and proved he at least belongs in the discussion, putting
together best season of his career after perhaps his worst, in which he threw an
NFL-high 25 interceptions in 2010, and knocking out perhaps the league’s top
quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, from the postseason along the way.
Now, he is leading another surprising playoff run, this time in the driver’s
seat, the unassuming leader of a football team that has complete confidence in
“I think we are always confident going into games,” Manning said. “Guys
understand the way to win football games against good teams. Our defense is
playing great with pressure and turnovers. Our offense for the most part is
protecting the ball and playing smart football. When we have a chance to make a
big play we are making them.”
GIANTS VS. PACKERS: HAKEEM NICKS' HAIL MARY CATCH HIGHLIGHTS A BIG DAY FROM GIANTS' WIDEOUTS
"Perception changed for the good somewhere between the moment a Hail Mary left
Eli Manning’s right arm and the moment it landed, cradled against Hakeem Nicks’
stomach in the end zone just as the first half came to an end.
The Giants wide receivers were not
the ones expected to steal the show in a house packed to the rafters to see
Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and the rest of the Green Bay
Packers’ pass catchers running their fast-break offense to perfection.
But this, Nicks’ second — and slightly more impressive — touchdown of the
first half sealed it.
One playmaking unit had given way to another. The Giants wideouts, who have
shown explosive potential throughout the season, have become the standard two
games into the playoffs.
“That was just crazy,” tight end Jake Ballard said of the Hail Mary grab.
“After that play, we’re all hootin’ and hollerin’, we gotta keep going, we gotta
Nicks, Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz combined for 270 receiving yards and
three touchdowns in a
37-20 stomping of the Packers at Lambeau today.
Nicks led all receivers with 165 and the two crucial scores. The Packers’ top
three finished with 124 and one touchdown.
Bottled up by the Giants secondary and butter-handed when passes came their
way, they shed their dangerous label and relegated themselves to an opening act
for the three wearing blue and white.
“I have always been told that big time players step up in big-time roles,”
Nicks said. “I’ve been told that since high school.”
The scene was foreshadowed with 3:55 remaining in the first quarter, the
score tied at three. Manning hit Nicks on an in-route 17 yards downfield with
Packer safety Charlie Peprah closing in fast.
Nicks then bounced off Peprah, spinning himself into the opposite direction
with an open field in front of him. Like he did a week ago against the Atlanta
Falcons, Nicks turned the remaining half of the field into a track meet and
burned three more Packer defenders giving chase.
“When we have a chance to
make a big play, we’re making them,” Manning said.
Otherwise, Cruz and Manningham filled in all the gaps.
There was Cruz’s 28 yards receiving on the opening drive to set up the first
field goal, and his 11-yard grab on a key third-and-5 that set up the Giants’
first score in the fourth. And Manningham helped put the game away with a 4-yard
touchdown where he beat Packers corner Tramon Williams in a footrace along the
back of the end zone.
All of which helped everyone else see what they’d always seen themselves as —
one of the best corps left playing.
“I feel like we are,” Manningham said. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I
think we are.”
GIANTS BEAT PACKERS, 37-20, RIDING MOMENTUM INTO NFC TITLE GAME
"On the dry-erase board inside a jubilant visitors’ locker room at Lambeau Field,
a simple message was scribbled that pretty much summed up the attitude of the
“Play physical football,” it began. “And beat the hell out of #88.”
Nearby, Antrel Rolle was talking to reporters about the paper pinned to his
locker. It was a picture of Aaron Rodgers’ head with an arrow pointing to a red,
cherry-flavored Tootsie Pop. Below it was the word “sucker.”
Even during Tom Coughlin’s news conference, the most straight-laced coach in
the league got as close to puffing his chest out as he’ll ever go when he
proclaimed, “I think we are a dangerous team.”
Uh, yeah. Everyone knows that by now, especially the
no-longer-defending-champion Green Bay Packers, whose near-perfect season ended
with a decisive, 37-20 defeat in today’s NFC divisional-round game to a Giants team riding a wave of momentum
unlike any they’ve experienced since early 2008.
They’re confident. They’re ****y. And after getting revenge for the loss to
the Packers last month, they’re on their way to a rematch with the 49ers in next
weekend’s NFC Championship Game.
“This football team will be ready to play. We’re going to be hard to beat and
that’s why we’re confident,” defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “We know what
we have in this room. I know (Jason Pierre-Paul) guaranteed a win and things
“We’re very confident. We believe in this football team. If it comes out our
words (make it) sound like we’re arrogant, I’m sorry.”
Tuck claimed very few
people gave the Giants a chance to win. He’s wrong. Very wrong.
The Giants (11-7) were the trendy pick because they were the hot team and
have been doing all of the things that win games this time of year, like getting
after the quarterback, running the ball well, playing solid downfield coverage,
winning the turnover battle and riding Eli Manning’s hot hand.
They did all of the above today and even tossed in a 37-yard Hail
Mary touchdown from Manning to Hakeem Nicks on the final play of the first
half, following a terrific 23-yard cutback run by Ahmad Bradshaw.
They played physical, they overcame a few injuries and questionable calls and
they flustered the “sucker.”
That would be Rodgers, the potential league MVP who seemed to be a bit rusty
and out-of-synch with his receivers in their first game since Christmas
“Oh, it’s real,” said Rodgers, who was 26-for-46 for 264 yards, two
touchdowns and a late interception by Deon Grant that sealed it. “We got beat by
a team that played better tonight.”
Said Pierre-Paul: “They weren’t on their game, but that’s not my fault.”
It all began with a pace the Giants couldn’t have drawn up much better. Like
Super Bowl XLII, which they defeated the Patriots 17-14 after losing a
38-35 track meet in the regular season (the same score as the loss to Green
Bay last month), they knew they had to slow down today’s game and play keep-away
After the Pack won the opening toss but deferred, the Giants went 67 yards in
13 plays on a drive that lasted 6 minutes, 27 seconds. It ended with a field
goal, and the Packers tied it on the next series, but the pace was certainly the
right one for the Giants.
However, Nicks put his foot on the gas with a 66-yard touchdown one week
after a 72-yarder against the Falcons. Last week, he avoided safety Thomas
DeCoud; today, he bounced off a poor shoulder-tackle attempt by former Giants
draft pick Charlie Peprah.
“You have to tackle in the playoffs,” Peprah said.
You also have to catch the ball and not turn it over. The Packers had six
drops, three lost fumbles and the one interception by Grant. John Kuhn’s fumble
with 3:48 left in the second quarter, which occurred when he ran into one of his
blockers, gave the Giants the ball at the Packers’ 34. The Giants turned that
into a field goal and a 13-10 lead. A sack by Michael Boley gave them the ball
back at their own 31 with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.
Seemingly content to head into the locker room with a three-point lead, the
Giants ran a draw play. The Packers called timeout at the snap, so they lined up
and ran a toss left to Bradshaw. Pretty soon, he was on the right sideline and
Bradshaw looked to see there were 15 seconds on the clock before the play, so
knew he had time to pick up as much yardage as possible before getting out of
“It was a shock to see him over there,” right guard Chris Snee said. “But he
Instead of attempting a 55-yard field goal, Coughlin opted for the “flood
tip” Hail Mary that Nicks caught off his face mask with Charles Woodson
covering. Coughlin saw Nicks’ 4-XL gloves appear in mid-air and immediately knew
he had a good shot to bring it down.
“That gave us a huge lift right there,”
Coughlin said. “It’s one or two times a year that play is completed and
fortunately for us it was completed tonight.”
Green Bay pulled within a touchdown but a failed fourth-and-5 early in the
fourth quarter followed by a Giants field goal extended the lead to 23-13 with
7:48 to play.
Kenny Phillips’ forced fumble on Don Bosco grad Ryan Grant, a recovery and
return to the 4-yard line by Chase Blackburn and Manning’s touchdown to
Manningham had Phillips and Rolle doing a sideline shimmy together. The Giants’
sideline was celebrating but surprisingly calm, as if they fully expected this
Which it did. Now, in the words of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., and as a
few players sang on their way into the locker room, they’re “going, going, back,
back to Cali, Cali,” where they lost 27-20 in Week 10.
“We’re happy as hell about this win. But we’re thinking,” Snee said. “We have
greater plans. We’re thinking about next week, what that atmosphere will be
“You saw it on TV; (Candlestick Park) was rockin’ and they were hitting. So
it’ll be a very physical game.”
POLITI: GIANTS DOMINATE PACKERS, SHOWING FLASHES OF 2007 MAGIC
"They scored a back-breaking touchdown on a brilliant Hail Mary pass, but this
time in this football cathedral, it was the other team that didn’t have a
The Giants might have stolen a
touchdown at the end of the first half with the first chuck-it-and-pray pass
that quarterback Eli Manning can remember completing since, well, ever.
But this was a victory that required no jangling of the rosaries or
sacrifices to the football gods, no late-game magic or last-second field goals.
The Giants dominated a Packers team with a 15-1 record that, for most of the
regular season, had looked like one of the best in NFL history.
They shut down quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the likely MVP of the league with
all the Xbox 360 stats. They treated Lambeau Field and all its mystique and
tradition as if it were their backyards. And yes, they survived an officiating
crew that sometimes ruled as if they were wearing cheeseheads.
Final score: Giants
37, Packers 20. Up next: A trip to San Francisco for the NFC Championship
Game, and a week certain to be filled with comparisons to the 2007 Giants team
that peaked late and won the Super Bowl.
That’s only natural. This is the same franchise with many of the same
players, once again needing to win on the road against favored teams to make
history. Still, after seeing the way they rolled through the first two playoff
games by a combined 61-22 victory margin, it’s worth asking.
Are these Giants even better than their counterparts from that
magical run four years ago?
“I guess the scores or the stats might say that,” defensive end Justin Tuck
said, “but it doesn’t matter if you win a game by 1 or 40.”
He’s right, of course. That they needed a 47-yard overtime field goal in the
icy air four years ago to stun this same franchise in the NFC title game didn’t
make it less satisfying at all. The Giants lived on the edge throughout that
run, which is what made it so memorable for anyone who went along for the
This team? It wrecked a solid Atlanta Falcons team 24-2 in the first week,
then came to the less-frozen tundra here and outclassed the favored Packers in
every single phase of the game.
Defensively, the Giants sacked and rattled Rodgers, who completed a
Sanchez-esque 56.5 percent of his passes. They locked down his talented
receivers, allowing just one pass longer than 20 yards.
The Packers had scored fewer than 21 points just once in their last 20 games.
If not for an awful roughing-the-passer call in the fourth quarter that extended
a desperation drive, they might have stayed stuck on 13.
Everyone wanted to fire defensive coordinator Perry Fewell a few weeks ago
when this team couldn’t stop anyone. Now, the way this defense is playing, he
could end up as a head coaching candidate someplace else.
“Success breeds confidence,” coach Tom Coughlin said of his defense. “And
they’re a pretty confident group now.”
But the confidence comes from the quarterback. Manning is always pegged at a
level just below the top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL — not quite Rodgers or
Tom Brady, not quite his brother Peyton — but in the big games, he always seems
to find a way to beat them.
Maybe that’ll change now. Manning was an efficient 21-of-33 passing for 330
yards, good for a 114.5 passer rating that completely overshadowed Rodgers’
78.5. But most importantly, when he had an opportunity to send his team into the
locker room at halftime with all the momentum, he succeeded where Rodgers
This is where the game turned for the Giants: Rodgers had the football with
1:51 left in the half and plenty of time to erase a 13-10 lead. Then Giants
linebacker Michael Boley sacked him on a third-and-6, forcing the Packers to
Manning had just 41 seconds on the clock and was backed up at his 31. After a
9-yard run and an incomplete pass, the Giants looked ready to head to the locker
room content with their lead.
But then Green Bay called a time out, and in that break, Manning found
running back Ahmad Bradshaw and delivered a message before the next play: “If
you break free, make sure you get out of bounds.” He did, after a 23-yard run to
move the ball to the Green Bay 37, leaving six seconds on the clock and a chance
for a prayer.
The play is called “Flood Tip.” Three receivers lined up to the left of
Manning, including his top target Hakeem Nicks. The Giants run this every
Saturday at the end of practice, but Manning can’t remember a single time he’s
completed a Hail Mary — in the pros, in college, wherever.
“I just went up for it, and once I felt it in my hands and my chest,” Nicks
said, “I locked onto it.”
That the ball also connected with his helmet will bring back more of those
2007 comparisons. Nicks, with his big hands covered in red gloves, managed to
hold onto the ball “with a whole lot of people banging around in the end zone,”
Coughlin said, and a 13-10 lead grew to 20-10.
“It broke their backs,” running back Brandon Jacobs said. “They were walking
around the field with their heads down. I knew they were done.”
The Packers were not completely done, but the Giants had the answer for
everything. A team that had to win its final two games just to make the
playoffs, one with a 9-7 record that reeked of mediocrity, is now one victory
from the Super Bowl.
They play the San Francisco 49ers now, on the same field where they won the
NFC Championship Game in 1991. The 49ers will be favored, but Jacobs was asked
how confident he was that his team could keep rolling right to Indianapolis for
Super Bowl XLVI.
He leaned into the microphone.
GIANTS VS. PACKERS: QUARTER BY QUARTER
Warmed up, and ready to go
The Giants spent most
the first quarter a week ago against the Atlanta Falcons getting a feel for the
game. They didn’t need that yesterday. Eli Manning started fast, using designed
rollouts to complete his first two passes as the Giants took a 3-0 lead, and
then turning to Hakeem Nicks on a crossing pattern that — after Nicks bounced
off Packers safety Charlie Peprah — became a 66-yard touchdown. But the most
important, and mystifying, play of the first 15 minutes came when Deon Grant
appeared to strip Greg Jennings and Kenny Phillips picked up the loose ball. But
one of the officials jumped in late and declared Jennings down by contact. Tom
Coughlin challenged the ruling, but it was upheld. The Packers responded to the
break by working the ball down inside the Giants’ 10-yard line on a quick pass
to James Jones. Then the teams switched sides.
Eli saves his best for the last
The first and
last play of the second quarter were touchdowns, and both represented
significant momentum shifts. John Kuhn caught an 8-yard touchdown to draw the
Packers even at 10-10. But the play of the first half came on the final snap,
when Eli Manning threw a ball up for grabs in the end zone and Hakeem
Nicks’ hands, facemask and chest worked in concert to collect the touchdown.
That gave the Giants a 20-10 lead, and shocked the Lambeau crowd. Manning
finished the half with 274 yards. Moments before the Nicks catch, the Giants
seemed content to run out the clock, but Ahmad Bradshaw’s 23-yard gain made the
last-gasp throw an option. In between, the Giants survived a Manning
interception in the Packers’ half of the field and turned a Kuhn lost fumble —
the first of his career — into a field goal by Lawrence Tynes.
It looked worse than it was
This is where you
expected the game to tilt in the Packers’ direction. They took the ball first
and figured to get their offense going. Unfortunately for Green Bay, the Giants
also got their pass rush going — and it saved a touchdown. Aaron Rodgers had
Greg Jennings breaking free behind the secondary for a score. But Osi Umenyiora
got there first, forcing a fumble that Deon Grant recovered to end one drive.
The Giants then stiffened later in the quarter and held Green Bay to a field
goal. The Giants ran all of six plays from scrimmage in the third, and watched
the Packers pick up seven first downs and hold the ball for 11:11. But the
Giants still held a 20-13 lead when the 45 minutes of game time were in the
books. Rodgers had two scrambles for first downs in the quarter — his fourth and
fifth first downs of the game.
Textbook job at closing it out
The first five
minutes essentially made the next 10 all but a formality. First, Michael Boley’s
sack of Aaron Rodgers on fourth-and-5 — a gamble, for sure, by Packers coach
Mike McCarthy with his team still only trailing by one score — gave the Giants
the ball. And on third-and-1 on their next possession, Eli Manning and Mario