Final/OT

Giants 20

(9-7, 5-3 away)

49ers 17

(13-3, 7-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

6:30 PM ET, January 22, 2012

Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
NYG 0 10 0 7 320
SF 7 0 7 3 017

Top Performers

Passing: E. Manning (NYG) - 316 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: F. Gore (SF) - 16 CAR, 74 YDS

Receiving: V. Cruz (NYG) - 10 REC, 142 YDS

Giants stun 49ers with OT field goal to set up Super rematch with Patriots

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- The New York Giants have their own Super Bowl formula: in overtime and on the road.

And with Lawrence Tynes' foot.

Five plays after the 49ers' Kyle Williams fumbled a punt, Tynes kicked a game-winning 31-yard field goal in overtime, sending the Giants to the Super Bowl with a 20-17 victory over San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

In another tight one in this decades-old postseason rivalry, both defenses made key stops before New York capitalized on a rare mistake in San Francisco's resurgent season. Williams' blunder put the Giants in perfect position for another sensational finish in a season full of them.

"That was a tough game. We had to fight for every yard that we got," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "Defense was outstanding, special teams getting us two turnovers was huge. That led to 10 points."

The first three overtime series ended in punts before Williams fumbled. The Giants won it moments later and silenced -- for good this time -- the towel-waving, poncho-wearing sellout crowd at cold, rainy Candlestick Park.

"It was one of those situations where I tried to turn it upfield and it just didn't work out," Williams said.

Manning and the Giants (12-7) will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis as 3½-point underdogs. The last time the teams met for the NFL title, 2008, the Giants ended the Patriots' bid for a perfect season.

Tynes had a hand, er, foot in getting the Giants to that one, too, kicking the game-winning field goal in overtime.

Devin Thomas put the Giants in position this time by recovering his second fumble of the game after Jacquian Williams stripped the ball from fill-in return man Williams, who also fumbled earlier to set up a New York touchdown.

"It's my second NFC Championship Game, my second game-winner," Tynes said of his kick 7:54 into overtime. "It's amazing. I had dreams about this last night. It was from 42, not 31, but I was so nervous today before the game just anticipating this kind of game. I'm usually pretty cool, but there was something about tonight where I knew I was going to have to make a kick. Hats off to Eli, offense, defense. Great win."

Holder Steve Weatherford celebrated with a slip-and-slide on his back down the soggy field. Victor Cruz fell to his knees. Tynes quickly found his crying wife for a warm hug. Manning tossed his gloves into the temporary seats with a big smile, then received a surprise visit from big brother, Peyton, in the locker room.

Manning went 32 of 58 for 316 yards and two touchdowns and overcame six sacks in his record fifth road playoff win, New York's fifth in a row overall.

Manning threw a go-ahead 17-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham with 8:34 remaining after Williams fumbled for the first time.

The Giants challenged that the ball touched Williams' right knee and Thomas recovered with 11:06 left and coach Tom Coughlin won, giving the Giants the ball back at the 29.

"That was a tremendous football game for those that really enjoy football at its very basic element," said Coughlin, who matched former Cowboys coach Tom Landry for most road playoff wins with seven. "Just a classic football game that just seemed like no one was going to put themselves into position to win it. Fortunately we were able to do that."

A 12-point underdog in the 2008 title game, the Giants battered Brady and got a last-minute TD pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress to win their third Super Bowl. Five months ago, Manning declared he was in the same class as Tom Brady. Now, he'll get another chance to outdo him on the NFL's biggest stage.

During this playoff run, he's already outplayed Aaron Rodgers and the defending champion Packers, and fellow former No. 1 pick Alex Smith.

Cruz set the tone Sunday with eight of his 10 receptions in the first half and finished with 142 yards.

"It's just been a tremendous effort by all of us, man," Cruz said. "We understand that any one of us can get hot at any moment. As long as we're all on the same page and just playing together, man, we've got a great group of guys."

The Giants appeared on the verge of collapsing and Coughlin's job status was in jeopardy just a month ago, when they fell to 7-7 with an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 18.

They were facing elimination the following week against the Jets and Rex Ryan, but the Giants won 29-14. They followed with a 31-14 win over Dallas in the regular-season finale to win the NFC East and get to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

New York dominated Atlanta at home in the opening round, and then came another stunner: a 37-20 victory at Green Bay.

Vernon Davis caught touchdown passes of 73 and 28 yards for the NFC West champions (14-4), who went from 6-10 a year ago to a contender and ended an eight-year playoff drought.

"It will be a tough one. It will take a while to get over," Harbaugh said. "There were a lot of ways in which we played well enough to win. We just didn't come away with it."

Smith completed just 12 of 26 passes for 196 yards, connecting on only one short throw to a wide receiver. With no threats on the outside, San Francisco managed one third-down conversion, coming on the final play of regulation. The offense was unable to overcome Williams' blunders.

"We all know him. We know how committed he is to winning," Smith said. "It's not on him. I look at the 1 for 13 on third downs. I know he's going to feel bad, but he's still part of our team. We didn't lose the game there. We lost it across the board offensively. We just couldn't get it done."

The only other time these two franchises faced off in the conference championship the game finished in memorable fashion. On Jan. 20, 1991, Roger Craig fumbled with the 49ers leading 13-12 late in the fourth quarter and the Giants went on to win 15-13 to deny San Francisco a chance at a third straight Super Bowl title. New York then beat the Bills to capture its second Super Bowl.

This time, it was Williams who made the crucial mistake.

"You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it away in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude," Williams said. "It is what it is. We're going to move forward as a team. Everyone has come to pat me on the back and the shoulder to say it's not me."

Game notes


Davis joined Jerry Rice as the only 49ers with at least two touchdowns receiving in back-to-back playoff games. ... Cruz caught a 36-yard pass from Manning on the first play of the second quarter, then Manning hit Bear Pascoe for a 6-yard touchdown seven plays later. ... Giants C David Baas beat his former team. ... Manningham missed the potential game-tying TD in a 27-20 loss here on Nov. 13.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NYG
SF
1st Downs2015
Passing 1st downs
175
Rushing 1st downs
36
1st downs from Penalties
04
3rd down efficiency
7-211-13
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays9057
Total Yards352328
Yards per play3.95.8
Total Drives1615
Passing267178
Comp - Att
32-5812-26
Yards per pass
4.66.8
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks - Yards Lost
6-493-18
Rushing85150
Rushing Attempts
2628
Yards per rush
3.35.4
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-40-1
Penalties9-606-50
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
02
Interceptions thrown
00
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession39:3628:18

Passing Leaders

NYGC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning32/583165.4206-49
SFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Smith12/261967.5203-18

Rushing Leaders

NYGCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bradshaw20743.709
Jacobs5132.605
SFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Gore16744.6011
Smith6427.0017

Receiving Leaders

NYGRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Cruz1014214.203617
Nicks55511.001512
SFRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Davis311237.32735
Gore6457.50248

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNYGSF
sfTD07:11Vernon Davis 73 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (David Akers Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERNYGSF
nygTD11:15Bear Pascoe 6 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Lawrence Tynes Kick) 77
nygFG00:02Lawrence Tynes 31 Yd 107
THIRD QUARTERNYGSF
sfTD05:18Vernon Davis 28 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (David Akers Kick) 1014
FOURTH QUARTERNYGSF
nygTD08:34Mario Manningham 17 Yd Pass From Eli Manning (Lawrence Tynes Kick) 1714
sfFG05:39David Akers 25 Yd 1717
OVERTIMENYGSF
nygFG07:06Lawrence Tynes 31 Yd 2017

Research Notes

There have been 6 playoff rematches from the regular season, and the only team that has won in postseason after losing during the regular season is the Giants, and they've now done it twice. (The Super Bowl will be 7th postseason rematch from the regular season.)
  [+]
NEXT LEVEL: The Giants sent four or fewer pass rushers on 28 of 33 (84.8 percent) dropbacks Sunday, tied for their highest pressure percentage this season. The Giants have relied on their standard pass rush more in the postseason, sending such pressure 82.7 percent of the time, compared to 69.9 percent during the regular season.
  [+]
The 49ers called designed rushes (not including scrambles) 42.1 percent of the time, and on only 11 of 35 (31.4 percent) second-half plays. Including the NFC Championship, the 49ers are now 4-4 when passing more than 55 percent of the time (10-0 when passing less than 55 percent).
  [+]

SmithAlex Smith was 7 of 8 targeting Vernon Davis 11 yards or more downfield this postseason, but was just 1 of 7 targeting all other 49ers receivers on such throws.

  [+]
NEXT LEVEL: The Giants pressure stifled Alex Smith on third-down passing plays, as he was under duress or sacked on 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) dropbacks Sunday. The 49ers only had 1 third-down conversion in the game, coming on the last play of the fourth quarter. Smith was 4 of 8 for 47 yards on third down plays in the game.
The Giants took advantage of two miscues on Kyle Williams punt returns, setting up a touchdown at the 49ers' 29 and the game-winning field goal at the 49ers' 24. Before the game, the 49ers allowed opponents to start just four drives within their own 30-yard line, just once after Week 4.

ManningEli Manning attempted 35 of his 58 passes (60.3 percent) inside the numbers Sunday after doing so just under half the time his first 18 games.

  [+]
NEXT LEVEL: The 49ers defense struggled to slow down Victor Cruz when facing 3 or more wide receivers allowing him to catch 7 passes for 110 yards (10.0 yards per attempt), which was his 4th-most total yards in a game this season. Cruz led the league with 1,093 yards when the Giants used 3 or more wide receivers this season.
Eli Manning is first QB in Super Bowl Era to have 3 games with 275+ pass yards and 2+ pass TD in a single postseason.
Giants finished the regular season ranked 25th in PPG allowed. That's the second worst rank for a team to make the Super Bowl
  [+]
Giants are the 3rd team with a 9-7 record to make the Super Bowl. The previous two teams both lost in the game.
  [+]

GiantsThe Giants are the first team in NFL history with a negative point differential in the regular season to make the Super Bowl.

  [+]

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