SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants walks off of the field after the Giants won 20-17 in overtime against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The AFC and NFC Championship games both turned out to be exciting contests, and at the end of the day, the result was that the New York Giants will square off against the New England Patriots in two weeks for Super Bowl XLVI. It will be an exciting, storybook re-match of the two teams that met for the Lombardi trophy four years ago as Eli Manning was able to prevent the Patriots from going 19-0 after a stunning catch by David Tyree over Rodney Harrison.
For now, let's get back to the NFL Championship games. The Ravens lost to the Patriots 23-20 on a day where Tom Brady probably had one of his worst outings of the regular season. He didn't throw a touchdown pass and was picked off twice by the Ravens' defense, including late in the fourth quarter when New England had a chance to comfortably put the game away. He also missed several open receivers throughout the game on the type of throws that are usually automatic for him.
Thankfully for the Patriots, they had Vince Wilfork, who had an impressive bull rush throughout the game, disrupting the Ravens' backfield enough to either sack Joe Flacco or break up a run play. Flacco actually stepped up in my opinion after the first quarter, doing a good job of making some plays outside the pocket. He had a critical interception in the fourth quarter, but he was able to drive his team down the field to set up a potential game-tying field goal by Billy Cundiff. Two plays earlier, wide receiver Lee Evans had dropped what likely would've been the game-winning touchdown pass. Then, Cundiff pulled a 32-yard attempt wide left, as the cameras then showed just about every Ravens player on the sideline with their jaw on the ground.
The Giants and the 49ers played a good one in the night game, as both defenses were very strong and each offense had several clutch plays. The game went to overtime, and 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams fumbled a punt half-way through the period. The Giants recovered in field goal territory, and then Lawrence Tynes kicked the game winner from 31 yards out a couple of plays later to win 20-17. That has to be a tough one to swallow for former Browns special teams coach Brad Seeley and special teams linebacker Blake Costanzo, as well as the rest of the Niners Nation crowd. The only reason Williams was back there was because Ted Ginn Jr. suffered an injury last week against the New Orleans Saints and was unable to play. Williams had two turnovers, both of which basically allowed the Giants to win the game.
It is set -- Manning vs. Brady, Part II, in this year's Super Bowl. Brady can't seem to get rid of the rivalry with the Manning brothers. Both of these quarterbacks are absolute leaders of their respective teams, and I can't wait to see how they top last time's showdown.