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NFL Playoff Recap – AFC and NFC Championships

Giants celebrate
Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

Two thrilling conference championship games produced a Super Bowl pairing: the New England Patriots will face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5. Here’s a recap of all of Sunday’s NFL action:

NFC Championship

N.Y. Giants 20 – San Francisco 17 (OT)

San Francisco – Lawrence Tynes kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime, and the New York Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in the NFC championship game. The victory gave the Giants their second Super Bowl berth in five seasons and the franchise’s fifth overall Super Bowl appearance.

Tynes’ game-winning kick was set up as a result of a fumble by San Francisco punt returner Kyle Williams, which was recovered by Devin Thomas of the Giants on the 49ers’ 24-yard line. Thomas also recovered a muffed punt that hit off Williams’ leg in the fourth quarter. That recovery helped set up a touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham that gave the Giants a 17-14 lead with 8:34 to play in regulation. David Akers’ 35-yard field goal with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter tied the game at 17 for the 49ers.

Eli Manning completed 32 of 58 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns for the Giants. He was sacked six times. Receiver Victor Cruz caught 10 passes for 142 yards for New York, while running back Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 74 yards. 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith completed 12 of his 26 passes for 196 yards, including touchdowns of 73 and 28 yards to Vernon Davis, who caught three passes for 112 yards total. Frank Gore rushed for 74 yards for San Francisco.

 

AFC Championship

New England 23 – Baltimore 20

Foxborough, Mass. – Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play, and the New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in to win the AFC title.  As a result of the victory, New England will make its fifth Super Bowl appearance in the past 11 seasons under coach Bill Belichick and seventh overall in the history of the franchise.

Tom Brady’s 1-yard touchdown dive with 11:29 remaining in the fourth quarter gave New England a 23-20 lead. The Patriots’ defense made the margin stand up, as defensive back Sterling Moore swatted away two potential touchdown passes on the Ravens’ final drive to force the field goal attempt by Cundiff.

The Patriots led 13-10 at halftime and stretched the edge to 16-10 when Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 24-yard field goal with 9:06 left in the third quarter. Baltimore took a 17-16 lead when Joe Flacco threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith later in the period. After the Patriots’ Danny Woodhead fumbled while returning the ensuing kickoff, the Ravens turned the miscue into a 20-16 advantage via a 39-yard field goal by Cundiff.

Flacco completed 22 of 36 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns for Baltimore. He was intercepted once. Anquan Boldin caught six passes for 101 yards for the Ravens, while Ray Rice led Baltimore in rushing with 67 yards. Brady completed 22 of 36 passes for 239 yards and two interceptions for New England. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 68 yards and a score for the Patriots, while tight end Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 87 yards.

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