INDIANAPOLIS — With the Giants and Packers deadlocked at 20 late in the 2007 NFC championship game, Giants PK Lawrence Tynes twice misfired on potential game-winning field goals from 42 and 35 yards out in the waning minutes. The teams advanced to overtime, where Tynes redeemed himself by drilling a 47-yarder to send New York to Super Bowl XLII. The rest of the story is history.
Fast-forward four years. Giants and Niners, tied at 17 in overtime of the NFC championship game. Again, Tynes drills a game-winning field goal, this time from 31 yards out, to advance the Giants to a meeting with the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
It is (unusual) — it's very rare," said Tynes of the eerie coincidence. "To have one, even, and to have two; yeah, a little bit déjà vu. But to have the chance to do it twice is pretty cool."
The difference this time around is that Tynes didn't need to redeem himself; he was a perfect 2-of-2 in San Francisco and 6-of-8 in New York's improbable postseason run.
Oftentimes, in the postseason, execution on special teams can be the X-factor in deciding close games. That was certainly the case against the Niners, when Tynes was perfect and 49ers WR Kyle Williams was far from it, muffing a pair of punts that likely cost his club a trip to the Super Bowl. New York's entire special-teams performance was tremendous, with P Steve Weatherford (12 punts for 46.4 average and 40.6 net, two inside 20) outdoing Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Weekly Writers of America Golden Toe co-winner Andy Lee, and Giants WR Devin Thomas and rookie LB Jacquian Williams coming up with critical plays on special teams.
In the case of Weatherford, whose Super Bowl bids with the Jets the past two seasons have come up just short, being able to help the Giants get over the hump this year has been a dream come true.
"I'm not throwing the game-winning TD, but if you can hem up a returner and really change field position for your defense, that is obviously going to help you win games. So, yeah, it feels great," said Weatherford.
The Giants' ensuing battle against New England on Sunday is expected to be a tight affair, exactly the kind of game where strong special-teams play is critical.
The Giants' special-teams captain, LS Zak DeOssie, a ballboy for Tom Brady and the Patriots in high school, feels good about the way his unit is firing on all cylinders at the right time.
"We just keep on chugging away and focus on what we do and sort of block out the whole hype and perform like we have been," said DeOssie.
What about having the only kicker in NFL history to twice send his team to the Super Bowl with game-winning boots in overtime on his side?
"Nerves of steel ... I've always thought Lawrence was one of the best kickers in the NFL, and when the game is on the line, who would you want there kicking the ball? Lawrence is certainly at the top of the list."