The New York Giants against the Green Bay Packers in a playoff game at Lambeau Field— a grouping of words which, over the last nine years, bring good vibes to Giants fans. Twice since 2008 the two teams have met for a playoff game at Lambeau, both times the Giants came away with season-extending victories and went on to win Super Bowl titles.
The same story lines that carried into those meetings are applicable this Sunday. The Packers won the regular-season meeting, just as they did in 2007 and 2011, and are arguably the hottest team in the NFL at the moment, as they were then.
Things turned out well for the Giants the last two times they beat the Packers at Lambeau in the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/vlAl41JUqF— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 3, 2017
Green Bay has the league’s fourth-highest scoring offense (432 points) — they were fourth in 2007 (435 points) and first in 2011 (560 points). They’re powered by their quarterback, future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers today and in 2011, actual Hall of Famer Brett Favre in 2007. The Pack finished the regular-season 13-3 in 2007 and 15-1 in 2011. Their 10-6 mark in 2016 isn’t as impressive on first glance, but they haven’t lost a game since November.
It was also cold during those meetings (extremely, disrespectfully cold), and temperatures are again expected be below freezing in Wisconsin Sunday. You may remember the iconic image of Tom Coughlin’s nearly frostbitten face on the Giants’ sideline.
Giants at Packers, 01/20/2008
The Giants opened that year’s NFC Championship Game as 7.5-point underdogs, on the road in -1 degree weather against Favre, one of the all-time greats. Big Blue did have some momentum coming in, having nearly defeated the 16-0 New England Patriots to end the regular season, and knocking off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card and divisional rounds, respectively. Here’s what Ed Valentine had to say about Giants-Packers in the lead-up to the game.
“This game is an uphill battle for the Giants. It's hard to see clearly how they keep Favre and the Packers from reaching the Super Bowl. Yet, I will not count them out. They have played too well in recent weeks, and come together too much as a group, to think they won't put up one helluva fight Sunday night.”
Fight the Giants did, holding the Packers mighty offense to 264 total yards and intercepting Favre twice on their way to a 23-20 win. The second INT, by Corey Webster in overtime, set up Lawrence Tynes game-winning 47-yard field goal.
Plaxico Burress overwhelmed Al Harris and the Packers’ secondary to the tune of 151 yards receiving on 11 catches and Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw scored a touchdown each, but it was Tynes who came through in the end after missing two field goals in regulation.
I'll just leave this right here! @Giants pic.twitter.com/xZnvDvO3mK— Lawrence Tynes (@lt4kicks) January 6, 2017
Giants at Packers, 01/15/2012
The Giants were 8-point underdogs this time against the defending-champion Packers and reigning MVP/discount double-check champion Rodgers. What would ensue over those 60 minutes defied logic; Green Bay was never really in the game.
The rout was on, early. Hakeem Nicks scored his second TD of the first-half on a 37-yard Hail Mary, set up by the Packers allowing Bradshaw to get out of bounds after a 23-yard run the play before. The Giants went into halftime with a 20-10 lead and never looked back, going on to beat Green Bay, 37-20.
The Giants’ offense has come at a premium this season but, similar to the great teams of seasons’ past, defense comes in abundance. Big Blue is riding another high wave into these playoffs, having won nine of their last 11, including knocking the Washington Redskins from postseason contention in a game that was essentially meaningless to them.
Rodgers and the Packers have been low-key all week while the Giants have dealt with the fallout of Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis’ Miami getaway, and subsequent throwback-1990s R&B album cover-esque photo. If Eli can dial up another throwback playoff performance in Green Bay, it’ll be a moot point.