Steve Weatherford of the New York Giants celebrates after the Giants won 20-17 in overtime against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Super Bowl XLVI, here we come! That, of course, was the result of the New York Giants defeating the San Francisco 49ers, 20-17, in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. In a season of last-minute thrills, and a few spills, the Giants of course took this one to the end. In fact, past the end, winning in overtime on a 31-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes.
The victory sent the Giants to their fifth Super Bowl, and capped an improbable run. At 7-7 and having lost five of six, Giants players said this was still possible -- but I am not sure how many people still believed.
This was a defensive struggle. A real heavyweight slugfest in sloppy conditions -- the kind of game in which unlikely heroes emerge for the winners, and someone ends up as the goat for the losers. Fortunately for the Giants, Devin Thoma emerged as the hero. Punt returner Kyle Williams ended up as the goat for the 49ers.
Williams muffed two punts, one in the fourth quarter with the Giants trailing and one in overtime. Thomas was there to recover both, leading to a fourth-quarter touchdown and Tynes' game-winning field goal.
For the second straight playoff week, the Giants vanquished a foe with a superior record who had beaten them during the regular season. The previious week it was the 15-1 Green Bay Packers. This time, the 14-3 49ers.
Eli Manning threw 58 passes in this game, completing 32 for 316 yards. He was never intercepted, but took a brutal beating from San Francisco, being sacked six times. Victor Cruz caught 10 passes for 142 yards.