By Tim Herrera
The Giants' victory over the 49ers last night sent fans into a tizzy as the team heads to Super Bowl XLVI to play the New England Patriots, whom they beat for their last title four years ago.
"In Eli we trust!" yelled Mark Owen, 47, of Newark, N.J. "There were times during the season when I thought it was over ... But tonight just shows that we can never lose our grit and our will to win."
Matt Loede of the football blog NFLGridironGab.com called it "possibly one of the greatest wins in Giants history," adding that he thinks Big Blue will topple Tom Brady and company on Feb. 5.
"Unlike [four years ago], the Patriots are not nearly as good, and the Giants won that game, so there's no reason to believe they can't win this," Loede said.
John Fennelly of GiantsFootballBlog.com agreed, adding that the Giants right now are playing an all-around better style that the Pats can't match.
The "Giants are the top team in the league, no doubt," he said.
"They're the new 'America's Team.' "
By Ernie Palladino
Special to amNewYork
Lawrence Tynes is starting to get used to these kinds of dramatics.
For the second time in two NFC championship games, Tynes kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with an overtime field goal, this time from 31 yards in a 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Tynes, whose 47-yarder in frigid Green Bay ushered the Giants into Super Bowl XLII and a victory over New England, provided yet another parallel to that magical run. This one came at 7:06 of the extra period, after both teams had failed to score on their first possessions.
As dead-on as Tynes was — it split the uprights after Eli Manning took a centering knee in the middle of the hash marks — the Giants can really thank Jacquian Williams for the victory. The rookie linebacker, playing on the punt coverage unit, knocked a Steve Weatherford kick out of the hands of returner Kyle Williams at the San Francisco 24, where Devin Thomas covered it to give the Giants an almost sure shot at the win.
It was Kyle Williams' second big mistake of the game. The first came in the fourth quarter, when Giants coach Tom Coughlin's challenge revealed that Williams had touched a punt at the San Francisco 29. Manning, who finished 32-of-58 in a rain-soaked Candlestick Park for 316 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, eventually turned that into a 17-yard scoring pass to Mario Manningham, his only catch, to retake the lead at 17-14.
David Akers tied matters with a 25-yard field goal with 5:39 to go, but the Giants gave up nothing else and went into overtime.
The Giants' defense did just about everything right, shutting down Alex Smith's passing for the most part and limiting Frank Gore to manageable yardage. The two biggest plays against the defense involved tight end Vernon Davis'' two touchdowns, a 73-yard catch-and-run over Antrel Rolle in the first quarter and a go-ahead, 28-yard throw in the third quarter that put the Niners up 14-10.
The Niners' defense, meanwhile, put all sorts of pressure on Manning in the second half after letting him operate almost unimpeded during the first half. Manning and Victor Cruz hooked up eight times in the first half for 125 yards, but the only touchdown came on second tight end Bear Pascoe's 6-yard catch in the second quarter.
Cruz finished with 10 catches for 142 yards.
By Max Dickstein
Quick Thought: Victory march
Eli Manning and the January-primed Giants have struck again, as sure as a game winner off the foot of Lawrence Tynes in an Olympic year. The Giants' victory in San Francisco last night was the product of superior effort and determination, plus some luck on special teams. What is harder to explain is the machine-like force of Tom Coughlin's parallel postseason marches. One answer: Like any good sequel, the cast features many of the same dependable stars and role players as 2008. But for Giants fans, the same ending would be fine.
(Max J. Dickstein)