Giants 20, 49ers 17
Five weeks ago this seemed impossible. The Giants were 7-7. They were in the midst of another second half collapse and Tom Coughlin's seat couldn't have been any hotter. Now Big Blue is headed to the Super Bowl and just one win away from completing one of the most improbable championship runs in NFL history.
The parallels to 2007 can't be denied. The NFC Championship game ended the same way it did 4 years ago. Lawrence Tynes nailed a field goal in overtime to send the Giants to the Super Bowl. This time New York defeated San Francisco 20-17 in a back and forth affair that lasted nearly four hours. And just like in 2007, the win sets up a Super Bowl between the Giants and the Patriots.
It was certainly the toughest of New York's playoff wins. San Francisco struck first with a 73 yard touchdown catch by Vernon Davis and it remained a one possession game from that point on. Both teams had trouble moving the ball in the second half. The Giants offense was stagnant, but they were able to avoid costly turnovers. The same couldn't be said for the Niners. That was the difference in the game.
The 49ers' Kyle Williams fumbled two punts that led to 10 Giants' points. The first one came in the fourth quarter and led to an Eli Manning touchdown pass. The second came in overtime and allowed Tynes to hit the game winning field goal.
It was imperative that the Giants take advantage the Niners' mistakes. San Francisco's defense lived up to its reputation. The Giants only rushed for 85 yards on 26 carries. Eli Manning threw for 316 yards but it took him 58 passes to do so. He didn't have much time to throw and was sacked six times.
The Giants defense played just as well San Francisco's. Alex Smith finished the game 12 for 26 with just 196 yards passing. New York had a tough time moving the ball, but San Francisco's offense didn't have it any easier.
The whole season the Niners won games by forcing turnovers and holding onto the ball. Eli Manning wasn't great, but he didn't throw an interception and held onto the ball despite being under constant pressure. The Giants played well and let the 49ers beat themselves.
The win sends the Giants to their fifth Super Bowl in team history. New York has two weeks until they have to face New England. It's been five straight weeks of must-win games for Big Blue. What's one more?
Nets at Bulls
The Nets have been playing well lately. They've won two of their last three games. Deron Williams is playing his best ball since joining the team last year, and MarShon Brooks is proving to be a quality first round pick. Unfortunately for them, they have to go on the road and face the team with the best record in the NBA.
The Bulls haven't lost a step from last year, starting the season off 15-3. Chicago is the league's best defensive team, allowing just 85 points per game. That's bad news for the Nets who have trouble scoring points. Deron Williams may be playing well, but the Bulls have Derrick Rose. Chicago is also undefeated at home this season.
New Jersey has done a good job of winning games against teams they should beat. The Bulls are not one of those teams. Chicago is banged up, but injuries have yet to slow them down. The Nets are 0-9 against teams that made the playoffs last year, losing by an average of 14 points. If the Nets win this game, consider it a minor miracle. Bulls 100, Nets 85.