A hot NFC rivalry ended bitterly in the cold for the New York Giants, who lost 23-11 to the Philadelphia Eagles at the Meadowlands.
The Eagles now head to the NFL Championship Game. The Giants head home.
While Big Blue's defense held Philly running back Brian Westbrook to only 36 yards on 18 carries, they couldn't stop quarterback Donovan McNabb -- and the Giants' offense failed to capitalize on many opportunities in the red zone.
The Giants, defending Super Bowl champions, breezed through the first half of the season -- and then some -- but lost a couple of games down the stretch. Quarterback Eli Manning had one of his worst games in some time, throwing for only 169 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
Star running back Brandon Jacobs had said he feels as good as he has since Week 3 -- and he looked great, running for 92 yards on 19 carries. But Justin Tuck, named to the NFC All-Pro Team Friday, battled a sore knee and lower leg. And kicker John Carney missed two field goals out of four at crucial points in the game, which must have been disheartening for the team.
New York was 7-1 at home this year, its only loss coming late in the season to the Eagles.
The Eagles struggled until Thanksgiving, then turned things on and are reminding many of last year's Giants, who got hot just at the right time and rode the streak all the way to an improbable championship.
The tradition of mayors from playoff cities placing friendly football wagers will continue this weekend.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter have agreed on their bet.
Bloomberg owes Nutter a giant New York-style cheesecake from Carnegie Deli. Had the Giants won, Nutter would've sent over five Philly cheesesteaks.
This is all so cheesy, isn't it?
KICKING CONCERNS COUGHLIN
Lawrence Tynes has spent most of the season after kicking the game-winning field goal in last year's NFC title game as a spectator for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Tynes hurt his knee in training camp, and lost his job because 44-year-old John Carney joined the Giants and basically didn't miss.
Carney, who was named a second-team All Pro on Friday, hit 35 of 38 field goals attempts and all 38 of his extra points in helping the Giants (12-4) win the NFC East and earn the conference's top seed.
It was impossible for coach Tom Coughlin to give Tynes' his job back, although it was also impossible for the team to cut the 30-year-old kicker.
Carney has a weakness though. His kickoffs have gotten shorter and shorter in the second half of the season. In the final eight games, the average starting field position for opponents have never been less than their own 30-yard line, and recently the starts has been closer to the 35-yard line.
OUT: G Shawn Andrews (back). DOUBTFUL: RB Dan Klecko (shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: T Jon Runyan (knee). PROBABLE: DE Victor Abiamiri (foot), LB Stewart Bradley (rib), S Brian Dawkins (back), S Quintin Demps (quadricep), G Todd Herremans (shoulder), CB Asante Samuel (hip), TE L.J. Smith (shoulder), RB Brian Westbrook (knee).
PROBABLE: LB Zak DeOssie (back), DE Justin Tuck (lower leg, knee).
Sunday's game probably will be played in near-freezing temperatures with wind gusts reaching 25 mph.
The National Weather Service said Friday a storm is expected to start Saturday afternoon and end early Sunday, leaving 6 to 8 inches of snow in the area where Giants Stadium is located.
"It looks like by gametime, it should be dry, but it will be cold," meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki told The Associated Press on Friday.
Ciemnecki said temperatures for the 1 p.m. EST kickoff will hover around 32 degrees, with winds gusting out of the northwest from 15 to 25 mph.
"It looks like classic cold football weather," Ciemnecki said.
DAWKINS LEADS EAGLES DEFENSE
Brian Dawkins has played in all kinds of defenses, seen every scheme and watched all the big stops in all the big games in 13 years with the Philadelphia Eagles.
What the Eagles did this season in defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's system left the Pro Bowl safety dazzled like few other times in his career. The Big Green defense just may be the best in the Andy Reid era, especially when it comes to stopping the run.
Dawkins and Asante Samuel may get the attention and accolades, but Philadelphia's run-stuffing success starts with the two men in the middle: defensive tackles Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson.
"This is the best run-stopping defense that I've played on since I've been here, by far," Dawkins said. "That allows the whole other part of the defense to flow, when we stop the run."
Wondering what the vibe is like in Philly this weekend? Here are some sights and sounds from our friends at NBCPhiladelphia.com: