Hakeem Nicks incredible catch off the front of his helmet gave the New York Giants a 20-10 halftime lead over the Green Bay Packers and brought back memories of the Eli Manning to David Tyree catch that led to a Giants Super Bowl championship four years ago.
While not as dramatic as Tyree's legendary catch against the New England Patriots, Hicks' 37-yard touchdown catch was sensational because it came as time expired in the half and it looked like the Giants blundered management of the clock and a chance to put at least three more points on the scoreboard.
Instead, Manning's desperate heave-ho gave them seven more points leading the way to a resounding 37-20 win over the Packers in this NFC Divisional playoff game.
Ahmad Bradshaw got the the Giants into field goal range with a 23-yard run out-of-bounds at the 37-yard line to stop the clock with :06 left in the second quarter. With no timeouts left, Manning went back to pass but was chased out of the pocket as the seconds ticked by.
Then with one second left— and no time left for a field goal attempt— Manning heaved the Hail Mary pass to the back of the Packers end zone.
Hicks leaped between two Packers defenders, pressed the ball to his face mask and tumbled to the ground for the score. Time remaining on the clock— :00.
Comparisons to the Giants 2007-08 playoff run to this season have been the topic of conversation for weeks and Hicks' grab could be taken as an omen of things to come.
Like in 2008, the Giants had to roll through frozen Lambeau Field.
The first half of this playoff battle was a back and forth affair— not unlike their Dec. 4 meeting at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants were the beneficiaries of a couple of Green Bay fumbles and had the misfortune of having one taken away on a bad call by the officials.
As the first quarter was winding down, Giants defensive back Kenny Phillips recovered what looked like a fumble after a Greg Jennings catch but it was ruled that the receiver was down. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin challenged the ruling on the field but the call wasn't overturned. Every camera angle showed that Jennings' knee never hit the ground before the ball came loose.
The Packers continued their drive and tied the game at 10-10 on a Aaron Rodgers TD pass.
The Giants failed to score on a first-and-goal from the five yard line and kicked a field goal to make it 13-10.
The Packers hit the field to start the second half with gusto while the Giants looked flat.
A field goal at 3:50 cut New York's lead to seven, 20-13.
The Packers blew a big chance in the fourth quarter when Rodgers under-threw to a wide open Michael Finley on third down at the Giants 40-yard line, then decided to go for it on the fourth.
Rodgers was sacked and the Giants took over.
The Giants didn't get a first down in the second half until almost four minutes elapsed in the fourth quarter when Mario Manningham caught a pass and the team started to move the ball once again.
The drive stalled and Lawrence Tynes narrowly put the ball inside the uprights on a 35-yard field goal to increase the lead to 23-13 with 7:48 left.
A third Packers fumble by Ryan Grant was picked up and returned by Chase Blackburn to the Green Bay 4-yard line. On the next play Manning threw his third TD pass of the day— hitting Manningham crossing the back of the end zone.
Giants lead 30-13 with 6:48 to go in the game.
Rodgers couldn't complete a crucial third down play but a phantom "blow to the head" personal foul was called on the Giants Matthias Kiwanuka for knocking the Packers QB down. The call gave Green Bay new life but the clock was slowing ticking down.
The second bogus call of the day against the Giants would lead to another Green bay touchdown.
Rodgers hit Donald Driver with a 16-yard TD pass with 4:46 on the clock to narrow the Packers deficit to ten, 30-20.
A second failed Packers onside kick was pounced on by Victor Cruz and left the Giants at mid-field.
Manning hit Cruz on a critical third-and-long to essentially lay the Packers to rest followed by a big run by Bradshaw to the Green Bay 10-yard line which closed the lid on the Packers coffin.
Brandon Jacobs rumbled into the end zone to make it 37-20 and put the final nail in the Packers season.
Next week, the Giants go to San Francisco to face the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. The last time the two teams played each other in the playoffs was 2003. The Giants lost, 39-38, on a botched Giants play that will forever be remembered as "The Snap."
If the Giants keep rolling along like they have, maybe the Hicks catch is a sign of things to come.
Right now, Giants fans would rather be reminded of "The Catch."