The last time the Giants were seen around Lambeau Field on a January, they put the punctuation mark on Bret Favre's storied career in Green Bay, intercepting him in overtime to set up a game winning field goal en route to Superbowl glory.
The Giants didn't need any late game heroics this time around. What they did instead, was put on a dominant performance from start to finish in a 37-20 rout against the defending Superbowl champs. You would often expect the defending champions to put up a fight befitting of their credentials, but the Packers were never really in this contest.
Last season, Green Bay clinched a playoff berth after beating the rival Chicago Bears - who had already clinched the division and home-field - in the season finale. As a 6th seed and having to play on the road, the Packers played their hand really well. They stunned Philadelphia, routed Atlanta, and held off Chicago, before putting the brakes on Pittsburgh - seeking their 7th title - to bring The Lombardi trophy home to "Titletown, USA".
The Packers then started a quest for perfection that included a win over these very Giants, before stumbling against Kansas City. However, they were heavily favored to repeat as champions, and there weren't too many doubters out there.
As the game progressed however, it became rather hard to tell apart the team that went 8-8 from the one that went 15-1. You might conclude that Green Bay dropped this contest, literally; count 8 (or more) dropped passes. Or you could say that they literally fumbled away their shot at a repeat title; count 4 fumbles. Whichever way, you want to address it, the Packers lost in a manner that was embarrassing.
In fact, honestly speaking, had it not been for the referees blown call early in the contest, when THEY overturned Greg Jennings’ fumble despite replays confirming that their initial ruling was indeed correct, the Packers might have never even seen the endzone. Instead, the Packers were able to capitalize and score a touchdown, tying the game at 10.
Seeing the way this game was going, Green Bay needed to keep it close if they were to pull of this win. All was fine though, until the dying minutes of the second quarter, when Eli Manning's "Hail Mary" was caught by Hakeem Nicks, giving the Giants a 10 point cushion at the break, and the momentum that would carry them through the remainder of the game.
It's always said that games are won "in the trenches, and this contest would be no different. Green Bay's defense, which played a key role in their success in the last postseason, couldn't get to Manning fast enough, sacking him only once (!!) the entire game.
As if that wasn't enough, they couldn't get the field off either, as Manning converted on eight 3rd downs, keeping a suspect defense on the field longer than they would have liked. Giants' receivers were able to get open with relative, yet disturbing ease.
The Giants defense isn't exactly stellar either, but their pass rush proved to be a big difference. Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked 4 times, and lineman Osi Umenyiora forced a crucial fumble off him late, preventing what would have otherwise been a momentum-stealing touchdown.
At one point looking like they were in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year, the Giants turnaround started when they beat Dallas 37-34 in week 14 of the regular season. In that game, they overcame a 12 point deficit with less than 5 minutes left, and lineman Jason Pierre-Paul blocked the Cowboys' game-tying field goal attempt to seal the win, keeping the Giants playoff hopes alive despite having lost their previous 4 games.
They beat the Cowboys again in the final week of the regular season in a "winner takes all" match, as the division title was still up for grabs. And after a back-to-back consecutive wins in dominant fashion, the Giants are without the doubt the hottest and most dangerous team in the playoffs right now.
As the Giants head west to face the 49ers, the Packers are left to pick up the pieces of what's left, after a season that was supposed to be one for the ages, instead ended without much of a fight.