Eli Manning now has five road playoff wins, the most by any NFL quarterback of all time. Tom Coughlin has seven of his own, tying him with Tom Landry for the most ever by a coach. In overtime and on the road are two concepts in which Giants fans are becoming quite familiar.
Here are seven things I learned from the Giants' exhilarating NFC Championship win.
In the NFL, the importance of special teams is often overlooked. One of the things we've learned this postseason, however, is that hustle on special teams can be the difference in a team's season.
The Giants were alert on special teams all night, and that turned out to be the difference in this game.
With just under 10 minutes to play in OT, the Giants lined up to punt on their own 44-yard line. Due to pure hustle and awareness, 4th-and-13 quickly turned into 1st-and-10. Weatherford's punt was fielded at the San Fran 19-yard line by back up PR Kyle Williams. After advancing five yards, Jacquian Williams came up from behind and stripped the ball. An alert Devin Thomas soared in for the recovery, his second of the night, and put the Giants in position to win the game.
One extra effort play made Devin Thomas a household name for every Giants fan. This is a perfect example of how the smallest plays can change seasons.
Lawrence Tynes then sealed the deal with a game-winning 31-yard field goal, sending the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. Tynes, who has had his struggles this season, is now confident and ready to step up whenever needed.
I can honestly assure you that all Niners fans genuinely missed punt returner Ted Ginn Jr., who was out for the season due to injury.
After a rough 7-7 start, things weren't looking good for Coughlin and the Giants. Questions were arising and many thought this would be his last season in a Giants hoodie.
Isn't it funny how quickly things change?
Coughlin's Giants have now prevailed in five consecutive do-or-die games and are fighting for a shot to make history on February 5th in Indianapolis.
The Giants' success starts in the locker room. Coughlin always believed in his team. He's passionate, confident and brings out the best in all his players. He believes in them and they believe in him.
It goes without saying that what Coughlin has done this season is truly remarkable. He has without a doubt secured his position as the Giants head coach until he retires. If the Giants win Super Bowl XLVI, Coughlin might even be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
The 49ers were just a score away from Super Bowl XLVI. They played motivated and energized in front of their home crowd at Candlestick Park. The Niners fought valiantly, but turnovers cost them and they just fell short.
San Fran was the surprise team in the NFL this season. Rookie coach Jim Harbaugh, perhaps the favorite for coach of the year, turned a lousy 6-10 team into 13-3 division champions.
The 49ers are the best defensive unit in football. One can make a valid case for Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman or Justin Smith for defensive player of the year. Their ability to force the opposition into playing one-dimensional football is how they win games. Teams know they can't run on the Niners defense.
During the regular season, the Niners allowed a league-low 3.5 yards per carry and 77 yards per game on average to opposing backfields. Teams only reached the end zone three times against them on the ground. Their success on the defensive end continued in the postseason where they only allowed 3.1 yards per carry and didn't even allow a run of 10 yards.
Most importantly, QB Alex Smith played with confidence this postseason. Smith faced criticism over and over, but overcame adversity and proved he could step up when needed. His coaches trust him and his teammates have faith in him.
The 49ers are a well-rounded team with a great deal of potential. They will come back next year stronger and hungrier than ever. Don't expect anything less than a deep playoff run.
As the old saying goes, offense wins games and defense wins championships.
On a night where points were scarce and nothing came easily, the Giants defense was fierce. Perry Fewell's defense unit provided the 49ers with problems all night and kept the Giants in the game when the offensive wasn't flowing.
The pass rush was alive and contained Alex Smith all night. With the exception of one big play, the Giants pretty much shut out the Niners in the first half.
Key stat of the game: Giants defense held the 49ers to 1-for-13 on third-down conversions.
You can't score if you don't have the ball. The Giants offense controlled the ball for most of the afternoon and heavily won the battle in time of possession. The Giants ran 90 plays to the 49ers' 57. This was thanks to the defense.
The Giants rallied behind perhaps the best defensive effort of the season and are now looking to win their second Lombardi Trophy in the last five years.
Throughout the game, weather conditions had a big impact. The field was wet and the grass was slippery. On a night where anything could happen on any given play, Giants returners Aaron Ross and Will Blackmon played smart, disciplined football.
Ross and Blackmon took no chances. If they didn't call for a fair catch, they held the ball securely with two hands to ensure maximum control. When defenders approached, they simply went down and covered the ball.
An extra few yards on a return isn't worth risking a fumble. This was a major difference in the game plan between the Giants and the 49ers. You can bet Tom Coughlin deserves all the credit.
Ross and Blackmon were unsung game changers.
What many people don't notice about the Lawrence Tynes game-winning field goal was the play made by Steve Weatherford.
The wild snap by Zak DeOssie was nothing short of horrendous. What people don't notice was the concentration that went into corralling the wobbling football and getting it down in time for the kick. Weatherford snagged the ball off the ground and settled it perfectly in the heat of the moment with a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Weatherford also punted 12 times. He put the Niners in bad field position all night, and when punting from his own zone, showed composure and did exactly what he needed to do.
Steve Weatherford was one of the main reasons the Giants beat the 49ers.
Giants fan or not, you have to respect what Eli Manning did against the 49ers. To make a long story short, Eli took a beating. He was hit 20 times and was sacked an additional six.
After every hard shot, Manning came back even more determined. Even when it looked like he wouldn't get up, Eli toughed it and played on. He displayed a great deal of resiliency to help the Giants get past the Niners.
His performance on Sunday should not be overlooked and I'm not talking about stats. Despite his 316 yards and two touchdowns, Manning gave Giants fans another reason to believe in him. The grit and heart he showed was truly special.