That road warrior mentality the New York Giants have embraced is paving their path nicely.
They will need it for one more game when they head to San Francisco to play for the NFC championship Sunday.
Since making the playoffs as a wild card in 2007, Tom Coughlin's team has emphasized the need to be comfortable on the road. The Giants felt downright at home at Lambeau Field in the postseason for the second straight time, humbling the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers 37-20 last Sunday.
Four years ago, they eliminated the Packers 23-20 in overtime on the Lambeau tundra.
This time, Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns for the second consecutive week, Hakeem Nicks caught two of his scoring throws — one a 37-yard desperation pass at the end of the first half — and the Giants (11-7) forced four turnovers from the usually precise Packers and had four sacks.
So it's on to San Francisco, where the Giants lost 27-20 in November. But the Giants also lost to the Packers (15-2) during the regular season.
The 49ers (14-3) won a classic on Saturday, rallying to beat New Orleans 36-32 with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis with 9 seconds remaining.
The AFC title game will match the Baltimore Ravens (13-4) and Patriots (14-3) in New England. Two years ago, Baltimore romped home at Foxboro 33-14 in the wild-card round.
Baltimore finished off a 9-0 home record with a 20-13 victory Sunday over first-time playoff qualifier Houston.
Ed Reed's interception late in the fourth quarter sealed it and the Ravens didn't commit a penalty or have a turnover. Lardarius Webb had two picks and Joe Flacco threw for two TDs.
“We have won in New England,” Flacco said. “They are one of the teams, like us, that's tough to beat at home. We know how tough it is to go into a place like that, a place like here, and win a football game. So we're going to have to make sure we prepare well all week and bring our ‘A’ game up there.''
New England routed Denver 45-10, silencing Tebowmania as Tom Brady tied an NFL mark with six touchdown passes and set another with five in the first half.
Photo: Eli Manning