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Giants Report Card (NFC Championship Edition): Fan’s Take
The New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl! Some Giants fans may need to read that last sentence a few times before it sinks in. But the Giants punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVI with a 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers in overtime of the NFC championship game on Sunday, January 22. How did they do it? Well, the Giants went all in and all out to reach Super Bowl XLVI; and it shows in the latest team report card below.
Offense: The Giants earned every yard against the hard-hitting 49ers defense. Eli Manning threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, including a 17-yard missile to Mario Manningham with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter to give the Giants a 17-14 lead. In addition, Victor Cruz hauled in 10 passes for 142 yards and Ahmad Bradshaw churned out 74 yards on the ground. However, San Francisco kept the heat on Manning (six sacks) and stuffed the Giants on short yardage situations. Without the benefit of a couple of huge turnovers, the Giants' potent offense would have been stuck in the mud in the second half. Grade: B
Defense: The Giants allowed a pair of touchdowns to the freakish Vernon Davis, including a 74-yard catch-and-run to the house to open the scoring at 7:11 of the first quarter. But outside of Davis, the G-Men held down the 49ers' underrated offense. They pressured Alex Smith, sacking him three times, and held running back Frank Gore to 74 yards on the ground. Moreover, Smith completed only 12 passes for 196 yards, which prevented the Niners from converting on 12 of 13 third downs. Both Chase Blackburn and Jason Pierre-Paul were especially active; each had five tackles. Grade: B+
Special Teams: Devin Thomas pounced on a pair of Kyle Williams fumbles, the second of which in overtime led to Lawrence Tynes' game-winning 31-yard field goal. Thomas' first fumble recovery early in the fourth quarter led to Manning's touchdown pass to Manningham. Ironically, the 49ers entered the game with the best special teams in the NFL, but they were missing return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. The Giants took full advantage of San Fran's loss and that right there was the difference in the ball game. Grade: A+
Coaching: You can nitpick certain play calls, especially on offense, such as running Jacobs on short yardage situations—he's just not effective on third-and-short or fourth-and-one! But the Giants stayed committed to the run just enough and to keep San Francisco honest. The defense mixed it up enough to keep Smith on the run and off balance. However, it's still puzzling how Davis got free for a pair of long touchdowns. He was the one guy who could kill the Giants and he nearly did! Overall, another great job by Tom Coughlin and his staff for preparing the Giants. Grade: B+
Extra Credit: The Giants probably don't win this game unless Williams muffs those two kicks, but credit Thomas for being in position and alert enough to pounce on both mistakes. It's often unsung guys like him—or rookie Jacquian Williams, who stripped the ball from Williams in overtime—that make the difference between winning and losing.
More Giants content from this Yahoo! contributor:
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans.
New York Giants at San Francisco Box Score. Yahoo! Sports.
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