Patriots and Giants into Super Bowl

The New England Patriots and the New York Giants will meet in Super Bowl XLII.

    Touchdown: Wes Welker of the New England Patriots puts on a show [GALLO/GETTY]

    The 42nd Super Bowl will feature the New England Patriots and the New York Giants after both teams won their respective conference finals to set up the clash in Arizona.

    The Patriots, who extended their mark to 18-0, kept up their pursuit of a perfect season by beating the San Diego Chargers 21-12 Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl as American Football Conference champions.

    While the Giants upset the form guide to snatch a 23-20 victory in overtime over the Green Bay Packers as Scottish kicker Lawrence Tynes landed the winning 47 metre field goal.

    The early match on Sunday saw the Patriots driven by quarterback Tom Brady who overcame a slow start and some errant passing in windy conditions with a pair of second-quarter touchdown drives and a fourth-quarter TD strike to Wes Welker, which made up for three stunning interceptions.

    "I think the difference was the players," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on the field after hoisting the AFC trophy.

    "These guys played great. They played great all year and played great today."

    New England are now one win away from becoming the only team other than the 1972 Miami Dolphins to cap a perfect campaign with a Super Bowl title.

    Laurence Maroney rushed for 122 yards as New England relied on a running game to move the ball and grind out the clock after taking a 14-9 lead at the intermission.

    San Diego, led by a gutsy performance by injured quarterback Philip Rivers and without running back LaDainian Tomlinson, failed to fully capitalise on three drives deep into Pats' territory.

    The Chargers settled for field goals by Nate Kaeding of 32, 23 and 40 yards in the first half, two of the kicks coming on drives that stalled from first-and-goal from the nine yard line.

    Junior Seau returns to haunt San Diego
    Seau strikes

    The Chargers had another golden opportunity early in the third quarter when cornerback Drayton Florence intercepted a Brady pass that deflected off the fingers of Donte Stallworth.

    San Diego drove to a third-and-one from the three but failed again to get a touchdown as linebacker Junior Seau, who played 13 seasons as a Charger, knifed into the backfield to drop running back Michael Turner for a two-yard loss.

    A 24-yard field goal by Kaeding made it 14-12.

    Brady squandered a perfect chance when he tossed an end zone interception on third down from the two-yard-line but came right back to engineer a 67-yard drive that culminated in Welker's sprawling TD catch and made for the winning margin.

    San Diego drove to the New England 36 yard line before the Patriots held on a third-and-10 and the Chargers punted.

    The Chargers never got the ball back as the Pats painstakingly marched down the field on short passes to running back Kevin Faulk and shifty runs by Maroney that used up the last nine minutes 13 seconds of the game.

    New England can now take aim at a fourth Super Bowl crown in seven years and a perfect 19-0 season.

    "Now we have a chance," said Seau. "A chance to be part of forever."

    Plaxico Burress: Super Bowl bound [GALLO/GETTY]
    Giants walk tall

    Eli Manning has the chance to steal some of the thunder from his big brother Peyton as he takes his New York Giants on an improbable trip to the Super Bowl.

    A suddenly matured Manning guided the Giants to their 10th straight road win, a frostbitten 23-20 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship.

    Now comes the daunting task for Manning and the Giants, who will play the unbeaten New England Patriots in two weeks for the NFL title.

    After Tynes missed a 36-metre field goal at the end of regulation following a bad snap, he got a reprieve in overtime following Corey Webster's interception of a struggling Brett Favre.

    He nailed a 47-metre, then sprinted directly to the locker room as the rest of his frozen teammates celebrated.

    The Giants grabbed their first NFC championship in seven years, capping a month long surge.

    The Super Bowl will be played on February 3 in Arizona.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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