The Red Zone: Conference Championship Edition.

Giants 23, Packers 20 – Words I’ll have to get used to: Eli Manning is a Super Bowl quarterback, and it was all about his receivers exploiting the Green Bay secondary. Al Harris should be made to wear a T-shirt that says “Property of Plaxico” for at least a month; he got burned so badly by Burress throughout the game.  Despite four lead changes, Green Bay wasn’t ever able to develop an offensive groove and exploit the Giants’ hobbled secondary.  Ryan Grant was nowhere to be found in the game plan; in fact, the Packers had only 25 rushing yards the entire game.  Lawrence Tynes obviously went from goat to winner fairly quickly, but I had a sense that there was football karma coming when some Green Bay player nearly replicated the Matt Hasselbeck OT comment word for word when the Packers won the toss in OT. I predicted then, “Brett will throw another pick,” and voila, Corey Webster jumps a route to Donald Driver.  The game could have been Green Bay’s at the end of the 4th — if only the two Packers near R.W. McQuarters’ punt fumble would have fallen on the damn ball rather than trying to scoop it up.

Patriots 21, Chargers 12 – Well, I suppose Norv Turner decided to squander the new-found balls he had discovered last week in Indianapolis; he seemed perfectly content to settle for Nate Kaeding field goals when the Chargers defense picked Tom Brady three times and the offense drove down the field into the red zone repeatedly but could never finish the job.  The Chargers’ D gave Brady mostly the slants and short passes, and he nailed the ones he really needed, and when your opponent scores three touchdowns on a bad day, you can’t just kick field goals.  LaDainian Tomlinson was in for two plays and then was out for the rest of the game with a sprained MCL — no explosiveness, apparently, but he was sorely missed, even as Philip Rivers was throwing well and often to Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers.

Photo: AP/David J. Phillip

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