You had to think something special was brewing at the end of the first half when Eli Manning's Hail Mary rainbow settled into the arms of Hakeem Nicks for a 37-yard touchdown that sent the Giants into halftime of Sunday's NFC Divisional Round game leading the Green Bay Packers, 20-10.
If you thought that, you were right. The Giants continued to confound the Packers in the second half, taking advantage of four uncharacteristic turnovers and eight dropped passes by a Green Bay team that was +24 in takeaways/giveaways heading into the game.
The Giants, 11-7 overall, have now won four straight games since falling to 7-7 and looking like their season might end early for a third straight year.
"I think we're a dangerous team," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin after the game.
The Packers, who finish 15-2 and won't win back-to-back Super Bowls, would likely agree. So, too, would the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. Those would be the three teams the Giants vanquished before Sunday.
So, how did the Giants defeat the Packers on Sunday?
They did it with Eli Manning outplaying Rodgers. Manning was 21-of-33 for 330 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. They did it with a relentless defense that sacked Rodgers four times and created multiple scoring opportunities off turnovers. They did it with big plays on offense from Hakeem Nicks in the passing game, and from Ahmad Bradshaw in the running game.
The teams traded scores in the early part of the game with Lawrence Tynes of the Giants hitting a 31-yard field goal and Mason Crosby of Green Bay matching it with a 47-yarder.
Nicks then made the first huge play, catching a pass from Manning over the middle, breaking a tackle and going 66 yards for a touchdown to put the Giants ahead, 10-3. Green Bay came right back with a nine-play, 60-yard drive to tie the game at 10-10 on the first play of the second quarter.
A 23-yard field goal by Tynes with 1:56 left in the half gave the Giants a 13-10 lead. After forcing Green Bay to punt the Giants moved to the Packers 37-yard line with just six seconds left in the half. Rather than try a short throw and a field goal, Manning lofted a Hail Mary to the left corner of the end zone and Nicks hauled it in for a 20-10 halftime lead for New York.
The Packers lost a scoring opportunity on their first possession of the second half. After driving to New York's 37, Rodgers was hit by Osi Umenyiora and fumbled, with the ball being recovered by Deon Grant of the Giants. New York could not turn that into points, but the turnover still slowed Green Bay.
The Packers got within seven, 20-13, on a Crosby 35-yard field goal with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
Green Bay appeared to be driving for a potential tying score early in the fourth quarter, moving from its own 24 to New York's 39-yard line. On fourth-and-five, however, Rodgers was sacked by Michael Boley, giving the ball back to the Giants with 13 minutes to play.
The Giants stretched the lead to 10, 23-13, when Tynes connected on a 35-yard field goal with 7:53 to play.
New York virtually clinched the game when Green Bay's Ryan Grant fumbled on the Packers next possession after being hit by Kenny Phillips. Linebacker Chase Blackburn recovered, and ran the ball to Green Bay's four-yard line.
Manning hit Mario Manningham for a touchdown on the ensuing play, giving the Giants a 30-13 lead with 6:53 to play.
Green Bay quickly answered with a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Rodgers to Donald Driver with 4:52 to play. The Packers could not recover the ensuing onside kick, however, virtually ending the game. Brandon Jacobs added a 14-yard insurance touchdown for the Giants.