(Long Island, NY) Even the most loyal of Giants fans have to admit that they woke up this morning and had to check the score to ensure that it wasn’t a dream. Through all the adversity and criticism, the NFC participant in Super Bowl XLII will be none other than Big Blue.
Reaching the big game is an accomplishment no matter how you look at it. Getting there as a wild card entry and facing three road games is a total different animal, especially when you factor in that they had to go through the top two teams in the conference.
“10 straight, looking for 11,” said linebacker Antonio Pierce, lamenting on the Giants’ winning streak away from home, where they have not dropped a game since the season opener. “Our next one is a road game, too. That’s how we’re treating it. It’s just a mentality.”
The ‘next one’ that Pierce is referring to will take place in two weeks in Phoenix, Arizona. The improbable run by the G-Men is taking the country by storm and may not be over yet. It may be hard to duplicate what occurred on Sunday night in Green Bay, but if they can upset the AFC champion New England Patriots, the Giants will prove
that midnight does not strike for all Cinderellas.
What is even more surprising is that the Giants actually outplayed the Packers and almost gave the game away. Only after missing two potential game-winning field goal attempts did placekicker Lawrence Tynes redeem himself with a 47-yarder in overtime to end one of the great games in NFL playoff history, 23-20.
“He’s made big field goals for us before, and it just seems like we just like to put ourselves in those situations,” said winning quarterback Eli Manning. “We like to make it tough on ourselves. We can’t make the short one and win at home, but we can win on the road, make the 47-yard field goal in overtime just to make it exciting.”
Exciting is an understatement for this squad. The Giants went 10-6 during the regular season and had to go through Tampa Bay and Dallas before earning the right play in sub-zero weather conditions at the ‘Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.’ Packers quarterback Brett Favre (19 for 35, 236 yards) did not appear comfortable all game in the cold and set up the winning field goal by throwing his second interception of the game in the extra period.
By comparison, Manning kept his streak of not throwing a pick for the third consecutive postseason game and completed 21 of 40 passes for 254 yards. The low-keyed gunslinger out of Ole Miss was his usual modest self after leading his team to the Super Bowl in just his fourth season in the NFL.
“Well, for me to play well, all the guys around me have to be doing their job, so they’re doing that and I’m getting them the ball,” said Manning. “My job, it can be easy when guys are playing well around you.”
The early odds makers have New England as 13 and a half-point favorites over the Giants. After winning all of their regular season games (16-0) and their two playoff contests, it is no wonder they are giving that many points. The Patriots took care of business by defeating the banged-up, but game San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship, 21-12, earlier in the day on Championship Sunday.
Maybe that last game at Giants Stadium against the Pats on December 29 – which resulted in a 38-35 loss – was exactly what the Giants needed to prove to themselves that they are for real.