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SAN FRANCISCO – The New York Giants have their own Super Bowl formula: in overtime and on the road. And with Lawrence Tynes’ foot.
A Super Sequel. Four years after New York stunned previously undefeated New England in the Arizona desert, the Patriots and Giants are going at it again at the Super Bowl – this time in Indianapolis.
From the Ice Bowl to The Grab, NFL lore is filled with nicknames for its classic playoff games. In between the Packers’ frigid 21-17 NFL championship win over the Cowboys in 1967 and Vernon Davis’ 14-yard TD grab with 9 seconds left in the 49ers’ 36-32 thriller over the Saints last weekend, there’s been The Catch, The Drive, The Fumble and a slew of other games characterized by much more than the score.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants boasted a physical, intimidating defense with athletic linebackers and stout linemen capable of stifling the NFL’s most productive offenses. San Francisco featured a high-powered passing attack led by an eventual Hall of Fame quarterback in his prime with receivers capable of turning short passes into big gains. When the San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants in the NFC championship game today for a shot at the Super Bowl, the matchup conjures memories from a previous era of this great rivalry – even if the roles are somewhat reversed.
DENVER — Tim Tebow, Alex Smith, Tom Coughlin, Gary Kubiak. All are two wins away from the Super Bowl.
DENVER – “Pull the trigger,” John Elway told his Denver Broncos star, Tim Tebow, trying to shake the quarterback from a three-game funk. Tebow went one better – he pulled off an upset.
DENVER – The Drive. The Fumble. And now, The Blink of an Eye. With a quick flick of the wrist and a mad dash to the end zone, Tim Tebow, Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos put a sudden end to their playoff game against Pittsburgh – an 11-second throw, catch and run that accounted for the quickest overtime in NFL history.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Both the missing pieces – defense and a running game – are aligning at the right time for Eli Manning and the New York Giants. And just in time to play the Packers. After routing the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 Sunday in the NFC wild-card game, the Giants head to Green Bay next weekend, a place where they will need all the help they can muster.
Saints at 49ers Saturday: 1:30 p.m.
Even without any Tim Tebow heroics, the Denver Broncos have won the AFC West. They did it despite falling 7-3 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday because San Diego knocked off Oakland 38-26. The Broncos and Raiders tied for the division lead at 8-8, but Denver won on the tiebreaker, better results in common games.
The Lions and Falcons are in; the Eagles are out. Cincinnati is closing in on a playoff berth, while the Jets and Raiders need some help. All part of a wild closing act to the NFL season.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Jay Cutler finally got some protection. The Chicago Bears rushed to their quarterback’s defense on Monday, blasting current and former players who in Twitter posts questioned his toughness for sitting out most of the second half of Sunday’s 21-14 NFC championship game loss to the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Jay Cutler finally got some protection. The Chicago Bears rushed to their quarterback’s defense on Monday, blasting current and former players who in Twitter posts questioned his toughness for sitting out most of the second half of Sunday’s 21-14 NFC championship game loss to the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury. “I think it’s crap,” general manager Jerry Angelo said. “I thought they were a union. If that’s the way they unionize themselves, they got bigger issues than the one that they have with the owners. I’m very disappointed. “That, to me, is dirty pool.”
PITTSBURGH – With a bare-knuckle opening and a hanging-on-by-their-fingernails finish, the Pittsburgh Steelers earned a shot to put another ring on their fingers Sunday, beating the New York Jets, 24-19. “There are 32 teams that start this journey, and there are two left, and we are fortunate enough to be one of them,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “It’s awesome.”
CHICAGO – A season in which the Bears benefitted from playing against third-string quarterbacks couldn’t be saved by their own No. 3. But Caleb Hanie’s gutsy performance in relief of an injured Jay Cutler and an ineffective Todd Collins was a reason why the Bears were driving with less than a minute to play and a chance to tie the NFC championship game. It would have been the most improbable of storylines in the 182nd meeting with the Packers.
Get ready for a hair-raisin’ Super Bowl in Big D. No barbers necessary, that’s for sure, when the Steelers face the Packers.
New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Make Big Ben a pocket watch
PITTSBURGH – You see it all around town these days. The “Big Ben” signs gradually returning to the windows in working-class hillside neighborhoods. The No. 7 jerseys on the backs of suburban store clerks, grade-school teachers – even, strikingly, children. Most prominently, you see it in how the discussion unfolds when talk turns to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Instead of phrases like “criminal investigation,” “NFL suspension” and “bad example,” the words today are back to: Completed passes. Makes things happen. Leader.
RENTON, Wash. – Sorry, got to run. That was essentially Pete Carroll’s message Wednesday as he explained the staff changes headlined by the firing of offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and hiring of Tom Cable to coach the offensive line.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Dennis Byrd gave the New York Jets a big lift before their playoff game against the New England Patriots. Byrd, one of the most inspirational players in franchise history, addressed the team Saturday night at the Jets’ hotel and delivered what wide receiver Braylon Edwards called on Twitter, “the most inspirational message of my life.”