Giants back in ‘road warrior’ mode by knocking out champs
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 7:00 pm
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
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 this weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Saturday, New Eng-land silenced Tebowmania 45-10 as Tom Brady tied an NFL record with six TD passes and broke another with five in the first half.
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.
49ers 36, Saints 32
The 49ers rekindled memories of their glory days, when Dwight Clark made “The Catch” and Terrell Owens made “The Catch II.”
Alex Smith, never before confused with Hall of Famers Joe Montana (the original catch) or Steve Young (the second one), threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis with 9 seconds left just after Drew Brees put the high-powered Saints ahead.
It looked as if the Niners (14-3) were headed to the conference championship game when they grabbed a 17-0 lead thanks to mistakes by the Saints and Smith’s TD throws to Davis and Michael Crabtree.
But the record-setting Brees and his offense came back, with a 44-yard catch-and-run by Darren Sproles giving them a 24-23 lead with 4:02 to go.
Smith put the 49ers back on top with a 28-yard run on third down, but the 2-point conversion failed. That put New Orleans (14-4) in position to retake the lead on a 66-yard connection with Jimmy Graham — only to see Smith and Davis win it.
Patriots 45, Broncos 10
New England (14-3) snapped a three-game losing streak in the postseason with a dominating performance from the opening snap.
Three-time Super Bowl winner Brady was unstoppable, as were his tight ends, with All-Pro Rob Gronkowski scoring three TDs and Aaron Hernandez getting one.
Published in The Messenger 1.16.12