Rapid Reaction, NFC Championship Edition: Giants-49ers

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Has it really sunk in yet? Has your pulse rate returned to normal?

After a 20-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants are going to the Super Bowl.

It’s amazing how far this Giants team has come in a little more than a month. This was a team that was 7-7 at one point, lost to the Seahawks and twice to the Redskins, and looking maddeningly inconsistent for a good portion of the season. But they hung tough, they got key wins at the end of the season instead of collapsing, and have been rolling ever since. This Giants team is a testimony to the fact that in the NFL postseason, it’s not about who was best in the regular season but about getting hot at the right time.

Thoughts from the game-

-On a night when the offense struggled to move in the ball, especially in the second half, it was great to see the defense play so well. They didn’t get to Alex Smith as much as expected and were burned on big plays a few times but they refused to bend or break and buckled down when needed. Which, if you think about it, is really how they’ve operated in the past few weeks. The Giants defense tends to give up a decent amount of yards but they manage to keep their opponent off the board, which is what’s most important any way.

-Given San Francisco’s turnover-happy defense, one of the keys to this game for the Giants was winning the turnover battle, just like they did last week in Green Bay. Not only were they +2 in that category but both of the turnovers they recovered were huge. (Both came on special teams too, which is one area where many seemed to think the 49ers had a clear advantage.) If it wasn’t for the Kyle Williams muffed punt and Jacquain Williams and Devin Thomas teaming up on that fumble recovery, the 49ers very well could have put the Giants away for good.

Speaking of the muffed punt, was I the only one who was amazed that challenge went the Giants’ way, considering what happened last week with the Greg Jennings so-called non fumble?

-The Giants struggles in the running game reared its ugly head again, though in fairness they were playing against a very stout run defense. Eli Manning got no relief from handing the ball off to Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs, and there were times when he could’ve used that break. It really goes to show how much the offense has depended on him all year.

-Here’s to hoping that the injured 49ers cornerback- Tarrell Brown if I recall correctly- is alright after colliding with one of his teammates during the game. Seeing him lay on the field for so long was scary, though it was a huge relief that he was showing signs of movement. No one wants another Kevin Everett situation.

-As pointed out above, the Giants defense was stingy when needed. The 49ers were 1-for-13 on third down all game and that one third down conversion was from the end of the fourth quarter when the Giants were in prevent defense and only concerned about not giving up a touchdown with no time left on the clock.

-The offensive line didn’t have the best game. Manning was sacked six times in the game and hit infinitely more.

-When the Giants make it to the NFC Championship, they win the NFC Championship. They are now 5-0 in NFC Championship games.

-Congratulations to Victor Cruz for his first career 100 yard postseason game!

-I admit all the references to this being a “repeat” of 2007 were getting a bit old/annoying but now it’s almost creepy. The Giants win the NFC Championship game on the road, against a team who had beaten them in the regular season, thanks to an overtime field goal by Lawrence Tynes, which was set up by a turnover, in order to play the Patriots in the Super Bowl. You have to admit that’s at least a little bit weird.

At least Tynes didn’t miss two potential game-winning field goals in regulation this time. I don’t know if I could’ve taken that again, especially considering how tight this game was defensively. But be sure to brace yourself for unlimited mentions of this being a “Super Bowl XLII rematch”.

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Tags: Alex Smith Devin Thomas Eli Manning Greg Jennings Jacquian Williams Kevin Everett Kyle Williams Lawrence Tynes Victor Cruz

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