The Giants and Patriots will meet in Super Bowl XLVI in two weeks in Indianapolis. Find out how each team advanced and where each of the four teams goes from here.
Patriots 23, Ravens 20
What happened? In an extremely well played game, the Patriots had the better kicker and that was about it as they edged the Ravens 23-20. Aside from Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff pulling a would-be game tying 32-yard field goal, there were no egregious mistakes by either team.
The big play- There were two enormous plays that decided the outcome. On Baltimore’s final drive down three points, Joe Flacco delivered a perfect back-shoulder strike to Lee Evans in the end zone which he couldn’t put away as Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore stripped the ball. Two plays later, Billy Cundiff gaged on a tying 32-yard kick.
Could the outcome have been different? If Lee Evans catches the football, the Ravens are in the Super Bowl. If Cundiff makes an easy kick than any collegiate kicker should knock through, the game goes to overtime and anything is possible there.
Where do they go from here? New England: The Patriots will appear in their fifth Super Bowl in the last 10 years and if they win quarterback Tom Brady should go down as the best quarterback who ever lived with four titles and a runner-up finish. With a win, Bill Belichick will have won his sixth Super Bowl title.
Baltimore: Although questions about Joe Flacco were answered positively, the Ravens defensive core is aging and there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever be back in this position with the current group. This loss is going to sting and leave a terrible taste in their mouth’s going in the offseason.
Giants 20, 49ers 17 (OT)
What happened? In a defensive struggle, the Giants were the team that blinked last as they pounced on a Kyle Williams fumbled punt in overtime to kick the game winning field goal.
The big play- 49ers wide receiver/punt returner Kyle Williams will go down as the goat in this game as he accounted for two turnovers on punt returns which led to 10 of the 20 Giants points. Williams overtime fumble sealed the deal.
Could the outcome have been different? Absolutely. Both teams had potential game-winning possessions at the end of regulation and overtime, and the defenses stood strong. If Kyle Williams doesn’t fumble either time, San Francisco could have very well went to the Super Bowl.
Where do they go from here? New York: The Giants will gear up for a rematch with the New England Patriots, the same team they defeated in the Super Bowl four years ago. New York defeated New England, 24-20 back in November.
San Francisco: It was a fantastic season for the 49ers but their offense simply didn’t do enough in their biggest game. Alex Smith will now enter free agency on the heels of a 12 for 26, 196 yard performance in which his team converted just one of 13 third downs. San Francisco isn’t that far away, but they seriously need to evaluate whether Smith can get them over the top.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie