Let that sink in for a moment. For a team that was 7-7 and fresh off a humiliating loss to the Washington Redskins, who here though that reaching the playoffs, let alone making it to the Super Bowl was even remotely possible?
Now the Giants are Super Bowl bound with a rematch set with the New England Patriots. Things can’t much better than they are right now. Everyone in Giants’ Land should be on Cloud 9.
So, before we concentrate on the Pat’s, let’s take a look back at Sunday’s classic victory and assess the good, the bad and the ugly.
The toughness of Eli Manning
When push comes to shove, Eli constantly answers the call and delivers. While being sacked six times and being hit additional dozen times, Manning made the plays when he had to including hitting Mario Manningham for 17-yard TD strike with 8:34 to go in regulation that momentarily put the Giants up 17-14. On the day where he had to make throws to win the game, Manning went 32-58 for 316 yards and passed for two touchdowns. They say it’s not how you fall, but how you get back up. Well, Manning personifies that statement to the letter.
Special teams extra special
In what was a major weakness all season, the Special Teams’ proved to be the difference in this game. While they were advantageous you have to credit Devin Thomas’ two fumble recoveries and Jacquian Williams forced fumble as the primary reason why the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Steve Weatherford also did a bang up job of pinning the 49ers deep most of the day.
Victor Cruz step up
After being relatively quiet in the postseason, Cruz erupted on Sunday and was Manning’s main weapon. Cruz had several key catches on the day, while recording 10 catches for 142 yards. If it wasn’t for Cruz, it could have been an even longer day for Manning.
Defense does its part again
While not as dominant as it was in the Falcons and Packers ‘games, the defense made more than enough plays. The unit recorded three sacks while forcing Alex Smith into some terrible throws. Even when Smith had time to throw, the secondary did a great job of containing the receivers and outside of Davis, no one did anything. Michael Crabtree, the 49ers’ top receiver, only recorded one catch for a measly three yards. The 49ers on a whole were a miserable 1-13 on third downs, and the Giants coverage was a major reason why.
Lawrence Tynes does it again
Sure, Tynes had a chippy to boot the Giants into the Super Bowl, but he once again came up big in OT in an NFC Championship. And there is no such thing as a chippy. Just ask Billy Cundiff.
Bradshaw provides spark
While, of course, the 49ers did a good job of containing the run, Ahmad Bradshaw still quietly put up some impressive numbers. Bradshaw had 126 yards from scrimmage. On a day where Eli was frequently getting beat up, Bradshaw picked up the slack and helped move the chains.
Nothing much from Brandon Jacobs
You can’t fault Jacobs that much. Jacobs only had five carries for 13 yards and was going up against the vaunted 49ers rush defense, so you can forgive him for his pedestrian night.
Defending Vernon Davis
Going into the game, we all knew Davis was the 49ers main and primary weapon on offense and the Giants had to key in on him or else. Well, after four quarters and OT, the Giants dodged a bullet or else Davis would have almost singlehandedly won the game for the 49ers. The Giants allowed two big plays to Davis (a 73-yard touchdown reception and another 28-yard touchdown catch). Outside of those two plays, the Giants did a good job, but those two plays were huge and could have easily turned the tide for the 49ers. The Giants better get their act together defending tight ends, as the Patriots boast a great duo in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Offensive line protection
As previously stated, the Giants’ O-Line was brutal in protecting Manning. They were abused and Eli was always under pressure. If the Giants didn’t have a QB as tough as Eli, than this unit could have easily folded.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon