"We're going back! Back! To Cali! Cali!"
A little more than three years ago that refrain echoed through the visitors' locker room of Lambeau Field. The New York Giants had just handed a crushing loss to the 15-1 Green Bay Packers on their home permafrost.
The following week, three years ago today -- January 22nd -- the Giants took the field against the San Francisco 49'ers. The 49'ers were coming off a resurgent season in Jim Harbaugh's first year as head coach, and were the second seed in the NFC.
Candlestick Park in San Francisco was a soggy mess with storms rolling through the area throughout the day. Despite that, Victor Cruz continued his meteoric rise to stardom, racking up 125 yards in the first half. Make no mistake, however, the championship game was a defensive struggle from the first kick-off. The 49'ers defense asserted itself early and often, forcing turnovers and laying hits on Eli Manning. The Giants defense responded, and neither offense scored more than 17 points in regulation.
Ultimately the second half dissolved into a defensive slug-fest as Steve Weatherford consistently flipped field position to help keep San Francisco out of scoring range.
As the game went to overtime, the Giants and and 49ers each had possessions end in punts, but a special teams gaffe set the Giants up in easy field goal range, and once again, thanks to a clutch kick by Lawrence Tynes, the Giants were ... Well I'll just let Steve say it:
For the full recap and highlights, flash back to the NFL Game Day crew right after the Giants' win.
And of course, no retrospective on this game would be complete without mentioning Terry Bradshaw's greatest championship defeat. It came at the hands of Mrs. Mara, who found Bradshaw's lack of faith in her Giants' ability to compete with the 49ers quite disturbing. And she let him know it.