The Giants, who defeated the Packers in Green Bay en route to their last two Super Bowl titles, open the playoffs at Lambeau Field on Sunday at 4:40 p.m.
As we await Sunday's game, we'll be taking a look back at those recent victories. First up is the Giants' 23-20 overtime win over the Packers in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 20, 2008...
The lingering image of the 2007 NFC championship is the one of Tom Coughlin's bright red face. The temperature at kickoff was minus-1 and the windchills were minus-23, making it one of the coldest games in NFL history. Those were frostbite conditions and no doubt Coughlin's face took a big hit.
What I remember most about the cold, though, was my breath -- the uncomfortable feeling like I was inhaling ice chips every time I tried to breathe in. I spent maybe 15 minutes outside doing a TV spot for SNY before the game and not only was it impossible to breathe regularly, my face was red and my fingers were numb for easily a half hour after I finally went inside.
I have no idea how those players spent three hours outside, let alone played football in those conditions, especially on a field frozen so hard it felt like cement. Every hit had to feel like being smacked by an iceberg.
And yet, what happened that day when the Giants beat the Green Bay Packers in overtime, 23-20, in the NFC Championship Game, was one of the most remarkable performances I've ever seen.
The Giants' defense was brutal and unfazed. Behind the power of Brandon Jacobs, the Giants' offense set an incredibly physical tone. And Eli Manning, in brutal conditions, had what his brother Peyton would later call one of the greatest games any quarterback has ever played.
That's not an understatement, either. Manning's numbers may seem unimpressive -- 21 of 40, 251 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions -- but you have to watch it to understand how beautiful it was. He probably couldn't feel his fingers completely, yet the touch on his passes were near perfect. Spiral after spiral was put in a place where only his receivers had a chance to get it. And this was in an offense that was designed for him to stand in the pocket and throw far down the field.
The game, of course, went to overtime when the unheralded cornerback Corey Webster -- benched earlier in the regular season -- picked off the final pass of Brett Favre's Packers career. And it was won, of course, when Lawrence Tynes nailed a 47-yard field goal after missing two previous attempts at game-winning kicks.
After the two misses, no one was sure Coughlin was going to even let Tynes take another shot, but Tynes ran onto the field without ever looking in Coughlin's direction. "He was going to have to pull me off that field," he later said. Coughlin didn't. Tynes nailed it. Then famously ran straight up the tunnel and into the locker room. "I just wanted to get out of the cold," he said.
The Giants and the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning Era came in out of the cold that day. Remember, this was a 10-6 wild-card team that -- while probably underrated by many -- was struggling and erratic through the first 15 games of their regular season. They beat a weak Tampa Bay team in the first round of the playoffs and shocked many by beating the Dallas Cowboys in Round 2.
But winning in Green Bay in frigid conditions? Manning essentially rallying the Giants to victory three times before Tynes finally came through?
The win in Super Bowl XLI over the undefeated New England Patriots was obviously the game where the 2007 Giants secured their legacy. But this game, in unbearable conditions, is when the Giants -- and the Coughlin-Manning Era -- officially arrived.