Giant Memories From Januarys Past
The sight of Tom Coughlin’s nearly frozen face became a symbol for one of the most historic days in New York Giants history.Anticipation is building to crescendo for Sunday evening’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Green Bay Packers. This week, it has forced most Giants fans to think back to a Super Bowl run from four years ago.
NFL playoff games have a certain theatrical feel to them. Sometimes the games end up as a dud, but a great game is merely amplified when played in the right venue. The right venue making it feel like you are watching a scripted movie.
On January 20, 2008, the New York Giants and their fans got to live out a movie that led to a trip to the Super Bowl.
Not only was it the NFC Championship Game, which is high stakes enough, but it was being held at historic Lambeau Field, on an evening where the temperature was nearly 30 degrees below zero.
You could not have asked for more perfect winter football weather, especially when you can watch at the comforts of your house or a bar.
On this night, I watched the game at a bar in Hoboken with 30 of my closest Giants friends and family. Adding one storyline was the fact that if the Giants were to win, it would very likely be QB Brett Favre’s last game in a Packer uniform.
The back and forth game would head to overtime, with Giants fans having not so kind words for kicker Lawrence Tynes for missing two crucial field goals.
The Packers had the ball in the extra frame, with New York fans on pins and needles wondering if their team would be the fodder for another Favre miracle at Lambeau.
Then, Corey Webster stepped in front of a Favre pass intended for Donald Driver for as big of an interception as you will ever see.
Shortly after, the vilified Lawrence Tynes stepped out for a 47 yarder that most Giants fans would admit they had no faith in him making.
In fact, Tynes did not even receive the blessing from Coach Coughlin to go for the kick. He was still deciding on whether to go for it or not, when Tynes ran on the field confidently, apparently shaking off the previous misses. It was a kicker showing amnesia. That confidence was enough for the coach to see.
Tynes kicked a no-doubter.
It was on to a Super Bowl for the Giants. This NFC Championship game was of the most dramatic wins in franchise history. It was the chance to essentially end Brett Favre’s Packers career at Lambeau. And it was a chance for a storied franchise to add to their legacy.
Games like that are why we all become sports fans. And it’s why we live and die with a team throughout a season.
This week, against an even more potent Green Bay team with QB Aaron Rodgers playing at as high a level as you can play, the stakes will not be as high, but the challenge greater.
The Packers are a loaded football team, coming off a Super Bowl win last year, and finishing this season 15-1.
New York comes into the game riding as high as they have been in an otherwise roller coaster of a year.
The Giants played the Pack very tough at Met Life Stadium on December 4th, losing 38 to 35, but marking a significant improvement in the team’s play. Outside of a Week 15 dud against the Redskins, this was the game where the Giants’ light bulb went off.
The forecast Sunday calls for temperatures in the 20’s in Green Bay with a slight chance of some snow, which will be light years different than the weather four years ago. Defensive End Justin Tuck calls the forecasted weather “tropical” compared to the NFC Championship game.
While the stakes and weather will not be as dramatic, a Sunday evening Giants-Packers game at Lambeau Field for the right to go to the NFC Championship Game is about as good as it gets for a sports fan.
Memories of great seasons live in this area forever. Some of these new Giants get a chance to create their first great ones, while the mainstays get another chance to duplicate the 2008 magic.