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Four years ago this weekend, Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl on an absolutely frigid night in Green Bay. As I write this, about 45 minutes ago, Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants back into the Super Bowl on a rainy, sloppy night in San Francisco. About two weeks ago, I wrote this:
There will be a lot of talk this week about how the Giants of 2011 resemble the Giants of 2007. Peter King said as much in his column Monday, and he won’t be the only person to draw the comparison. Of course, everyone will be wrong.
Well, I was wrong. Super wrong, you might say. Because the Giants are going back to the Super Bowl, to face their old nemesis – again. They will be huge underdogs – again. They snuck into the playoffs – again. They won at least two games on the road – again. They beat two elite teams to get there – again. There is a damn pattern here, and I hope to God that it ends in the same way as last time.
But this time feels different. Last time was a miracle run, with everything breaking the right way. The Giants were that hackneyed old sportswriter trope, the “Team Of Destiny.” There was no way they could lose.
This time, they sort of… dominated. I don’t know if there was ever a time during the NFC Championship that I doubted the Giants would win. There was barely a person this week who picked them to lose, and the media darling ALWAYS loses! And in spite of the overwhelming karma against the Giants, they still won! Eli Manning threw FIFTY-EIGHT passes – and they still won! They ran for 85 yards against the number one run defense in the league by FAR, scored 20 on a team that gave up an average of 14 points per game, got two huge fumbles off a team that was number one in the league in turnover differential – ALL IN THE SAME GAME. A GAME THEY WON.
AND NOW THEY’RE IN THE SUPER BOWL.
So I ask: WHAT THE FUCK.
What is going on here? This is beyond you and me, and Giants fans everywhere, and the ghosts of the 2003 game against San Fran and all the terrible losses this year and the weird parallels to last time. This has gotten straight up WEIRD.
Eli Manning was hammered all night, absolutely hammered, possibly the worst hits he’s ever taken in his career. And yet every time an interception looked inevitable, the 49ers dropped the ball – literally. The huge collision between defensive backs, defenders slipping and falling, two miracle fumbles on punt returns. Everything felt surreal, even the sheets of rain pounding the field and the weird lights at Candlestick Park.
The weirdest stat of the night: Manning averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt. Or perhaps the fact that the Giants’ longest run of the night was nine yards. Wait, maybe it was Alex Smith throwing for 200 with two touchdowns and running for another 46. How about the six sacks the Giants allowed? Maybe the 22 combined punts?
Oh God, the punts. Steve Weatherford successfully caught 12 separate snaps on a slick field, and successfully got off all 12 punts for a sick 46.4 average. He was the Giants MVP, besides the sticky-handed Devin Thomas and the battered Manning (that sounds like a delicious Cajun dish, Beer-Battered Manning). But Weatherford also got down a crappy snap on the game-winning field goal, which by the way sent the Giants to the SUPER BOWL.
After a huge Vernon Davis touchdown, and an unsuccessful 4th down run, and endless 3-and-outs, and about 25 3-yard rushes, the Giants still won.
Honestly, it couldn’t have happened any other way. This whole season has been strangely undeserved: Anyone who has watched all 19 of the Giants’ games this year will tell you that they should not be here right now. They were gifted wins, they gagged their way to losses, they crapped the bed and played over their heads and crashed the whole playoff field. They started an undrafted free agent from UMass, and a guy who had leg cancer, a Bear and a Rhino-Hynoski and about eight guys with unpronounceable names and several malcontents and a goofy QB living in the shadow of his brother.
And in two weeks, they have a chance to be champions – again.