Deja-vu, as they say in Paree!
The Giants and New England Patriots will have a Super Bowl XLII redux in Indianapolis in two weeks thanks to Lawrence Tynes' 31-yard field goal that beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in overtime Sunday.
Not that kicking his team into the Super Bowl is anything new for Tynes. His 47-yarder in a much more frigid, though drier, overtime in Green Bay brought the Giants to a Supe XLII meeting with the then-undefeated Patriots, who fell thanks in large part to David Tyree's circus catch.
Whether any histrionics will be employed as the Giants go after their fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy in two weeks is anybody's guess. But they did need some overtime heroics from an unexpected source to get past the gritty, defense-minded 49ers.
That came from rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams, a special teams demon who hooked punt returner Kyle Williams' arm and knocked the ball loose at the San Francisco 24, where Devin Thomas covered it to position the Giants for their winning drive.
With Ahmad Bradshaw running it three times to the 6, all Manning had to do was center the ball between the hash marks to give Tynes the clearest shot possible. Unfortunately, a delay of game call turned a 26-yard attempt into a 31-yard attempt, but Tynes had no trouble putting the kick right down the middle to set off an explosion of joy on the Giants' sideline with 7:06 left on the clock.
Here's the wrapup.
LAWRENCE TYNES: He was 2-for-2 in field goals, including his 31-yarder that won the game at 7:06 of overtime following Eli Manning's centering kneel. This was the second time in two NFC Championship games that Tynes hit a field goal in overtime.
JACQUIAN WILLIAMS: The rookie linebacker set up the game-winning drive when he hooked punt returner Kyle Williams' right arm, jarring the ball loose at the San Francisco 24 where Devin Thomas smothered it.
ELI MANNING: Rain? No problem. Manning threw a whopping 58 times despite periodic downpours, completing 32 for 316 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't look pretty at times, and was sacked six times. But he didn't throw an interception for the fourth time in the last five games.
Victor Cruz: The Giants fans in the Candlestick Park crowd were very vocal whenever he caught the ball in the first half, which meant very often. Cruz finished the first half with eight catches for 125 yards, 45 yards of which came on three catches in the go-ahead field goal drive that sent the Giants into intermission up 10-7. Cruz also converted three third-down situations in the first half. He finished with 10 catches for 142 yards, but was far less a factor in the second half.
FIRST-HALF PASS DEFENSE: Have to give a lot of credit to the coverage, especially for a key breakup for linebacker Chase Blackburn. Aside from the 73-yard touchdown pass, Alex Smith was just 2-of-7 for 79 yards, and was defended well on his scrambles. In fact, Jason Pierre-Paul brought him down two yards short of a big first down in the second quarter.
Bear Pascoe: He didn't have a touchdown in the regular season, but he managed to come free from the second tight end spot in the second quarter for a 6-yarder and a 7-7 tie.
TOM COUGHLIN: His fourth-quarter challenge on Kyle Williams' touch on Steve Weatherford's punt gave the Giants the ball at the Niners' 29 and led to Manning's go-ahead touchdown throw to Mario Manningham.
Mathias Kiwanuka: At a key time late in the fourth quarter, the score tied at 17, he stormed in on Smith and tied him up long enough for Osi Umenyiora to finish off the sack and force a three-and-out punt.
Antrel Rolle AND Kenny Phillips: They were both beaten for touchdowns on near-identical pass routes by tight end Vernon Davis. Rolle was torched a 73-yard touchdown pass that opened the scoring in the first quarter. Phillips got his in the third when Davis blew past him for a wide-open 28-yard catch in the end zone to put the Niners up 14-10 in the third quarter. In all, a resurrection of a long-time problem in covering tight ends.
OFFENSIVE LINE: They failed to block sufficiently on Brandon Jacobs' fourth-and-one at the San Francisco 35 carry in the first quarter to squelch a potential chance to get on the board.
Aaron Ross: With the 49ers trapped deep in their own end in the third quarter, Ross was called for illegal contact on a third-and-forever scramble that saw Smith fall well short of a first down. The Niners used that to cross midfield and eventually punt to change field position drastically.
LATE GAME KICK COVERAGE: Just after Manning put the Giants up 17-14 in the fourth quarter, they allowed Williams to return the following kickoff 40 yards for great field position.