If the second Giants-Packers game this season becomes a shootout like the first one did, the Giants are confident they can match the NFL's highest-scoring team point-for-point.
This time, however, they plan to be the last team standing.
On Dec. 4, the Giants amassed 447 yards and scored 35 points, their second-highest total of the season, against Green Bay in MetLife Stadium. But the Packers were slightly better, compiling 449 yards and scoring 38 points, the last three on Mason Crosby's game-winning 31-yard field goal as time expired.
The teams will meet again Sunday in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game in Lambeau Field and another game with a lot of points would surprise no one. The Packers scored 560 points this season, the second-highest total in NFL history (exceeded only by the 589 points scored by the 2007 New England Patriots, who the Giants held to two touchdowns in winning Super Bowl XLII). They averaged 40.1 points at home, where they scored fewer than 35 points just once.
But the Giants believe they have the offensive firepower to match Green Bay on the scoreboard.
"I feel like we have enough weapons to get it done," wide receiver Mario Manningham said today. "I'm not going to say we have more, I'm not going to say we have less. I feel like we have the right people in the right places."
"I felt like we held our own that game and it came down to a few plays and a few miscues that we didn't come through on and came down to a field goal," said Victor Cruz, who led the Giants in receptions, yards and touchdown catches this season. "If we get into a shootout like we did last time, I think we will be okay. But it will have to come down to who has the last touch."
Last month, it was the Packers. The Giants tied the score with 58 seconds remaining on Eli Manning's two-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks and D.J. Ware's two-point conversion. But Aaron Rodgers completed passes of 24 yards to Jermichael Finley, 27 yards to Jordy Nelson and 18 yards to Greg Jennings to advance the ball all the way to the Giants' 12-yard line. The Packers called timeout with three seconds remaining and Crosby came on to kick the game-winner.
"I thought the first time we played them, offensively, we were doing good, moving the ball up and down the field," Nicks said. "I think the things will still be there to take advantage of. You've got to take advantage of it when it comes."
The Giants believe the result can turn in their favor on Sunday in part because they will have a full complement of receivers for Manning to throw to. Although Cruz and Nicks caught seven passes apiece, Manningham was inactive with a knee injury. He had four touchdowns, including a 27-yard touchdown in the Giants' wild card victory over Atlanta.
"They're aware of him," Coach Tom Coughlin said of Manningham. "He's not a surprise. But the way he's played makes you a little bit more aware. That's what you need. You have to have all of the weapons firing."
Tight end Jake Ballard had three receptions against Green Bay, but missed the last two regular season games with a knee injury. He returned to catch two passes in the victory over the Falcons, but was admittedly rusty. Ballard expects to be at full strength this week. The Giants also have Travis Beckum, who opened the scoring in the first Packers game with a 67-yard catch and run.
"I think we are good - we are a dangerous corps," Nicks said. "I think you can't just double any one of us. I feel like all of us are number one receivers. Within our offense, you try to take one guy away, then it opens up for the other two guys. You try to take two guys away, it opens up for the third receiver and the tight end as well. I'm happy with the way the running game is going right now. I feel like our offense is going upbeat."
"With the offense the way they put up their numbers, I think we're going to have to put a lot of points up, capitalize, and hopefully we can put pressure on Rodgers," Beckum said. "The way our defense is playing I don't see why we shouldn't be able to do that. So hopefully it comes down to our offense having to win the game."
The unit is certainly capable of doing that. The Giants were ninth in the NFL in scoring at 24.6 points a game. They were fifth in the league in passing, averaging a team-record 295.9 yards a game.
Against the Packers, Manning completed 23 of 40 passes for 347 yards, three touchdowns and one interception that linebacker Clay Matthews returned 38 yards for a touchdown.
The preceding paragraph pretty much sums up everything there is to say about the Packers' pass defense. The unit was 32nd and last in the league, allowing 4,796 yards through the air (299.8 a game) – the most in NFL history. But Green Bay also had league-high totals of 31 interceptions and 38 takeaways.
"I see a lot of people getting open when they're playing," Manningham said. "But I mean that's the type of scheme their defense is. I won't say they gamble, but they play different coverages and leave different spots open."
"In their secondary at least, they like to gamble a lot," Cruz said. "They like to take a lot of chances and risks, which means they either win or they lose big, which explains why they lead the league in interceptions and why they lead the league in giving up big plays - they are tops in the league in giving up big plays. So we understand that. We seen it on film and we see the different areas that we can take advantage of, and hopefully we can do that this Sunday."
When the Giants lost in Green Bay on Dec. 26, 2010 by a 45-17 score, they turned the ball over six times. But they did not lose the ball once on a fumble or interception in their last two games, the regular-season finale against Dallas or the victory over Atlanta.
To stay in the game Sunday, they will almost certainly have to approximate their recent mistake-free football and not repeat the carelessness they displayed when they last visited Lambeau.
"(The Packers') defense gets a lot of turnovers," Manning said. "They try to make some big plays so they give up a few plays, but especially with an offense like they have, that has the ability to score and score quickly, you can't give them extra opportunities. You can't give them a short field. We have to take care of the football. We have to capitalize when we have opportunities to hit big plays, but be smart and don't turn the ball over."
If they can stick to that script, the Giants believe they can match points with the league's highest-scoring team if they have to.
"(We're) pretty confident," said the always-understated Nicks. "Pretty confident in our offense, our running game, the way Eli is throwing the ball right now and the way the wide receivers are playing."
"I can't wait to play on Sunday," Manningham said. "We'll get this good week of preparation, we'll be ready."
*Lawrence Tynes carved his niche in Giants history with his 47-yard field goal in overtime to win the 2007 NFC Championship Game in overtime in the minus-24 degree wind chill in Lambeau. He had missed fourth-quarter attempts from 43 and 36 yards.
Today, standing at a podium before perhaps three dozen reporters in the Timex Performance Center field house, Tynes was asked what would have happened if he had missed the third kick.
"I wouldn't be talking to you right now," he said. "I mean, if you miss three kicks in the fourth quarter of a championship game I would assume that I probably wouldn't be here. I was on a one-year deal, anyway. I have done a great job since then; I have had a nice career here. But obviously, you do have to think what if I didn't make that kick."
Like the other 14 Giants who suited up for that game and are still on the roster, Tynes is trying not to dwell on a game that was played four years ago. But he was asked what lessons he learned from that game that he can take into Sunday.
"Besides the obvious things with the weather, we are going to have to be prepared to be perfect," Tynes said. "This is a tough team we are going to play, they are 15-1. I think they are 8-0 at home. To be the best, everyone has been saying you are going to have to beat the best, and we are going to have to play a perfect game to beat them."
The temperature in Green Bay on Sunday is expected to be in the low 20s, with wind chills perhaps down to single digits. While most of the Giants practiced in the field house today, Tynes was kicking outdoors.
"I am trying to go out here, but it's not really cold today," he said. "So I will be out there a little early on Sunday, just preparing, but the ball does come off your foot differently. It's just something as a professional player that you have to prepare for."
*Coughlin expressed condolences to the family of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, whose son, Michael, was found dead in a lake in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Monday.
"Our heart goes out to the Philbin family," Coughlin said. "When we first heard this the other night, the whole coaching staff, the room went absolutely silent. Many guys know Joe Philbin. You have tremendous empathy, but you can't (have) anywhere near the feeling that his family's going through. Just tragic. The sympathy of the Giants organization goes out to the Philbin family."
*Cornerback Aaron Ross, who left the Giants' victory over Atlanta with a concussion, returned to practice on a limited basis today. Ross passed a comprehensive series of tests mandated by the NFL after a player suffers a concussion.
"I felt good," Ross said. "During the game, once I got off the ground, I felt a lot better. But of course the league has to take precautions, and the doctors made the right decision by keeping me out. And I took the tests, I felt fine, I passed them and I feel good."
Ross continues to dispute the notion that he had a concussion.
"I don't feel like I had one," Ross said. "That's what they called it, but nah."
*Running back D.J. Ware, who suffered a similar injury against Atlanta, did not practice. Nor did Ahmad Bradshaw, who has stayed off the field on most Wednesdays as the Giants try to reduce the stress on his surgically-repaired foot. Bradshaw also came out of the Atlanta game with a sore back.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who has not played since Nov. 28 in New Orleans because of a ankle injury, did not practice.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) was limited and running back Da'Rel Scott (knee) practiced fully.
*All of the Packers practiced, though three players were limited: tackle Chad Clifton (knee/back), wide receiver Randall Cobb (groin) and linebacker Robert Francois (hamstring).
*The Giants and Packers will meet in the postseason for the seventh time. The first five meetings were in NFL Championship Games and the last playoff contest between the two teams was that 2007 title game. The Packers lead the postseason series, 4-2.
*The Giants are 4-4 in Lambeau Field, 3-3 in the regular season and 1-1 in the postseason.
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