New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes (9) celebrates with holder Steve Weatherford (5) after kicking the game-winning field goal during overtime of the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, in San Francisco. The Giants won 20-17 to advance to Super Bowl XLVI. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Eli Manning is headed to another Super Bowl with a shot to show the world he belongs in the same breath as Tom Brady.
Manning directed one short, final drive, and Lawrence Tynes kicked a game-winning 31-yard field goal in sudden death overtime, sending the New York Giants to the Super Bowl with a 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game on Sunday night.
In another tight one in this decades-old postseason rivalry, both defenses made key stops before New York capitalized on another costly mistake by San Francisco.
Manning and the Giants (12-7) will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. The last time the teams met for the NFL title, 2008, the Giants ended the Patriots' bid for a perfect season.
Tynes got the Giants there for a second time. He kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime at Green Bay in the 2008 NFC title game that put New York in the Super Bowl on the way to the franchise's third title.
"It's my second NFC championship game, my second game-winner," Tynes said. "It's amazing. I had dreams about this last night. It was from 42, not 31, but I was so nervous today before the game just anticipating this kind of game. I'm usually pretty cool, but there was something about tonight where I knew I was going to have to make a kick.
"Hats off to Eli, offense, defense. Great win."
Manning went 32 of 58 for 316 yards and two touchdowns in his record fifth road playoff win, New York's fifth in a row overall and fifth out of six.
David Akers kicked a 25-yard field goal with 5:39 to play in regulation for San Francisco to send the game to overtime tied at 17-17.
It was the third NFC title game in five years to go to OT.
The Giants beat Green Bay 23-20 four years ago on the way to the Super Bowl title.
Akers' kick came after the 49ers were done in by a rare turnover. After tying an NFL record with just 10 giveaways in the regular season, the 49ers committed their only one in this game at a most inopportune time.
With San Francisco leading 14-10 early in the fourth quarter and about to take over possession, a bouncing punt by Steve Weatherford glanced off returner Kyle Williams' right knee and was recovered by New York's Devin Thomas at the San Francisco 29.
The play was originally not ruled a fumble but was overturned by instant replay.
Six plays later, Manning threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham, who beat backup cornerback Tramaine Brock on the third-and-15 play. Brock was playing in place of starter Tarell Brown, who left late in the third quarter after a violent collision with teammate Dashon Goldson.
Williams helped atone for his miscue when he returned the kickoff 40 yards.
Kendall Hunter's 18-yard run and a 17-yard keeper by Alex Smith set up Akers' kick.
Neither team threatened to score after that in regulation, sending the game to overtime.
Smith had thrown two touchdown passes to Vernon Davis, and Manning and Bear Pascoe connected on a score for the Giants.
Manning threw for 265 yards, including 10 passes for 142 yards to Victor Cruz.
A 36-yarder to Cruz set up Pascoe's touchdown, and Cruz had four catches for 56 yards on a field goal drive late in the first half.
Smith completed just one pass to a wide receiver in regulation -- a three-yarder to Michael Crabtree. The two big plays to Davis did enough damage on a wet evening in San Francisco.
On the second play of San Francisco's second drive, Davis beat safety Antrel Rolle and got loose down the sideline.
He pulled down the pass from Smith and raced into the end zone. He jumped up onto a camera stage and posed, drawing a penalty for excessive celebration -- his first of two personal fouls on the day.
Davis appeared as if he might have stepped on the sideline, but after a review, referee Ed Hochuli said there was not indisputable evidence and ruled that the touchdown would stand.
Davis added a 28-yard TD catch in the third quarter.
Davis now has four touchdowns in his first two career playoff games, joining Jerry Rice as the only Niners with consecutive two-touchdown receiving games in the postseason.
Davis set a playoff record for tight ends with 180 yards receiving and the two touchdowns, including the game-winner with nine seconds remaining, in a 36-32 victory over New Orleans last week.
Williams' botched returns cost Niners chance
Kyle Williams put his hands on his helmet and dropped his head in disgust. A second big mistake by its backup punt returner did in San Francisco at the worst possible time.
Williams, returning kicks in place of the injured Ted Ginn, Jr., muffed one punt early in the fourth quarter to set up a go-ahead touchdown for New York, was stripped by Jacquian Williams in overtime to give the Giants the ball at the 24.
After three runs and a kneeldown, Tynes kicked the game-winner, and Williams slowly made a dejected walk back to the locker room as the 49ers missed out on a prime chance to go to the Super Bowl.
The fact that turnovers did in San Francisco was truly surprising. The 49ers tied an NFL record with just 10 giveaways all season -- including none on special teams -- and had a plus-28 turnover margin in the regular season. They took advantage of five New Orleans turnovers to win 36-32 last week but were on the wrong end in this game because of Williams.
Williams, the son of Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams, did not look smooth fielding punts after doing it just twice in the regular season.
He made a dangerous, sliding catch on one return and called a fair catch on another with room to run. He made his first big miscue after San Francisco forced a punt early in the fourth quarter while protecting a 14-10 lead.
Steve Weatherford hit a short, bouncing punt that Williams came up to try to field. He backed away at the last minute, but the ball glanced off his right knee, and was recovered by Devin Thomas at the San Francisco 29.
Williams helped atone for his miscue when he returned the kickoff 40 yards to help set up David Akers' tying field goal late in regulation.
On his second return in overtime, Williams gave the ball away again. He fielded the punt at the 19 and was stripped by Jacquian Williams. Thomas once again pounced on the ball at the 24, setting up the Giants' winning kick and ending San Francisco's most successful season in years.
Coach Jim Harbaugh got the Niners to the brink of the Super Bowl in his first season, taking over a 6-10 team and going 13-3 to win the NFC West. The ability to protect the ball and cause turnovers was the biggest reason for the turnaround.
The Niners forced no turnovers by the Giants and were done in by Williams' costly giveaways.
The Niners really did miss Ginn, who injured his right knee in last week's thrilling 36-32 win over New Orleans.
San Francisco was already thin at receiver after releasing Braylon Edwards late in the regular season and was unable to get anything out of its wideouts this game.
San Francisco's wide receivers had just one catch all game -- a 3-yarder by Michael Crabtree on a third-and-5 play before Akers' tying field goal with 5:39 left in regulation.