With huge plays from their offense and defense, plus plenty of help from the mistake-plagued Packers, the Giants got their second consecutive playoff victory at Lambeau Field. The previous win, in 2008, lifted them into the Super Bowl. This one got them a trip to San Francisco for the NFC championship game next weekend.
"This team knows how to win on the road," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It seems like right now it's our time."
"All I said was, `I've got to go up and get it,"' Nicks said. "Honestly, I (didn't) know where I landed. When I saw where I was, it was exciting."
Not much was exciting for the defending champions. The Packers were sloppy, rusty and perhaps dispirited by the shocking death of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's 21-year-old son. There were the turnovers, dropped passes, poor tackling and indecisive pass coverage - things that didn't damage them in a 15-1 regular season that included a 38-35 win at the Giants.
"We just turned the ball over too many times to win," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Got to give them credit, they play well on defense, they had a good plan, but we had a lot of chances to execute and didn't do it. We put our defense in a tough spot a couple times, and that's why our season is over."
Baltimore's prize: a trip to Foxborough next Sunday for a berth in the Super Bowl. New England is a 7 1-2-point favorite.
"When we got up 17-3, the No. 1 thing I told them is: `They're going to make a rally,"' linebacker Ray Lewis said to his teammates. "Every great team makes a rally. And this is what playoff football is all about. I mean, year after year and time after time, great competition going against each other, it really does get no better."
On Saturday, New England silenced Tebowmania 45-10 as Tom Brady tied an NFL record with six TD passes and broke another with five in the first half.
"We know we have a big test next week," Lewis said. "Tom is playing excellent up there, and what they did to the Broncos last night, I think they sent a message to whoever was coming up there. So, we've got our hands full and we've got to go up and get ready to play in the AFC championship."
The 49ers rekindled memories of their glory days, when Dwight Clark made "The Catch" and Terrell Owens made "The Catch II."
"You've got to call it `The Grab,"' Davis said. "We were down. I had to make it happen to take my teammates where we want to go."
It looked as if the Niners (14-3) were headed to the conference championship game when they, uh, grabbed a 17-0 lead thanks to mistakes by the Saints and Smith's TD throws to Davis and Michael Crabtree. But the record-setting Brees and his offense came back, with a 44-yard catch-and-run by Darren Sproles giving them a 24-23 lead with 4:02 to go.
The Niners became the first team in NFL history to score two lead-changing touchdowns in the final three minutes to win a playoff game.
"Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and that's all I kept telling myself over and over and over: `Vernon, you got to step up, the team needs you,"' Davis said.
"It's all about winning," Brady said. "You lose a few playoff games and it's a very bitter way to end the season and it sits on your mind for quite a long time. For us to come out and play the way we did, have a very solid performance in the most important game of the year is very gratifying.
"From this point on, everyone will be focused on what we need to do to be better next week and hopefully come out and play for another championship."
It was a helpless ending for Tim Tebow, whose sensational run of comeback wins turned around the season for Denver (9-9) to win the AFC West. But the Broncos were exposed by the AFC East champs on offense and defense.
"The run was a lot of fun, had a lot of ups and downs," Tebow said of his second pro season. "But, we really tried to block everything from the outside off and just enjoy the relationship with teammates and coaches. Work and try to get better, and I feel like we did that all year. We just didn't put forth a good enough (effort) tonight, you've got to give a lot of credit to a really good team."