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Shutdown Corner

Eli Manning’s Hail Mary to Hakeem Nicks was turning point in Giants’ divisional win

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Hakeem Nicks brings in a surprise catch. (Getty Images)

It was the play that ended the first half of the Green Bay Packers-New York Giants playoff game at Lambeau Field on Sunday night, and it may have been the backbreaker that put the Giants in a position to know that they had what it took to beat the 15-1 Pack even in one of the most hostile away-game environments in the NFL.

[ Photos: Check out pictures from the Giants-Packers showdown ]

Up 13-10 with six seconds left in the half and first-and-10 at the Green Bay 37-yard line, Eli Manning took the ball out of a shotgun formation and prepared to hurl the kind of Hail Mary pass into the end zone that we've seen an infinite number of times. Most often, the ball is batted down or intercepted, but in this case, the Packers weren't on point enough to stop Hakeem Nicks from catching the ball in what seemed like a bit of optical illusion.

Did he really catch that?

The catch was perhaps the most incredible from Manning's arm since the amazing throw to David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants upset the New England Patriots.

After the game, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said that his team had the right read — his defense was simply outplayed. "The defensive call was the right call, and the alignment showed you what was getting ready to occur from what they attempted. It's about making plays and big play opportunities in big games. That was a big play for the Giants … It was a 10-point game at halftime and we had the ball coming out [for the third quarter]. It was a big momentum play for them."

[ Related: Manning throws 3 TDs, Giants stun Packers 37-20 ]

To say the least. Now, the Giants head to San Francisco for the NFC championship game, and the Packers head home as the first 15-1 team to go one-and-done in the playoffs.

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