Packer Rundown: Coughlin and Manning on the Pack; injury rundown
"We play hard and we play together," New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin told reporters was the No. 1 ingredient to his defense's change from when the Green Bay Packers last met them in week two of the season.
Coughlin told reporters that his defense has progressed and that they've learned a lot since then.
That defense will be up against a more well-rounded Packer offense.
In week two the Packers were trying to find a ground game and were relying on the passing attack and the play of the special teams.
"Ryan Grant a runner, a ball-carrier has emerged who really has done an outstanding job all down through the stretch and into the playoffs," noted Coughlin on one of the primary changes to the Packers.
However, Coughlin added that there's also been a change on his team too, the play of quarterback Eli Manning.
"There have obviously been some ups and downs but he is a guy who stays away from the real highs and the real lows and knows the game very well, works very hard at it, and what he's done here late in the season is to recognize exactly what had to be done and what was necessary in order for us to have a chance to win and he's done it," Coughlin said.
"That's the thing that I'm most proud of and the thing which I think has rallied our team around him the most," he added.
Manning now says he tries to take what the defense gives him, and not force the ball down the field. As a result, his passer rating in the playoffs is 123-point-two.
He also says one of the reasons for the Giants recent success has been the quality of play and not making mistakes.
"We're not having many penalties where you don't get stuck in a whole lot of third-and-long situations. We haven't been behind in games where you're trying to catch up and trying to force things and thinking you have to make plays," said Manning.
"We just played smart football," he added.
Manning told reporters that the Packers' corner tandem of Charles Woodsen and Al Harris play physical football and know how to press receivers at the line. This forces quarterbacks to throw into tight areas.
He added that the Giants also have physical receivers to match.
"We have bigger, physical receivers ourselves, so we'll see how that match-up goes," Manning said.
Woodsen says that not just Manning has improved, but the entire Giants team and that Manning is now coming up with those signature drives every good quarterback comes up with.
He pointed out the drive at the end of the first half of last week's game against the Cowboys that resulted in a touchdown and helped build momentum for the team going into the second half.
"He's been able to do that the latter part of the season and the guys are rallying behind him and he's playing with a lot more confidence, making better decisions and the whole team's playing better," Woodsen said.
One of the keys to stopping the Giant's air attacks will be getting to Manning says Woodsen.
"We've got to get to him. It's no secret," said Woodsen. "If you can get to quarterbacks you can get them rattled, you can get them out of their game-plan."
The high temperature in Green Bay on Sunday is expected to only be seven degrees above zero and with the game starting at 5:30 p.m. it will only get colder.
Both Manning and Coughlin said that they aren't going to worry about the cold because they can't change it.
"The weather is what it's going to be. You can't control it. Both teams have to play in it," Manning said. "If you play good football on Sunday everything will work itself out."
Green Bay Packers' linebacker Nick Barnett and center Scott Wells left practice early Wednesday. Barnett has had a sore hamstring for about a week, and Wells pulled a gluteal muscle in the early part of Wednesday's workout.
Packer Head Coach Mike McCarthy said both were pulled for precautionary measures and both will be good to go for Sunday night's NFC Championship Game.
The Packers had a season-low six players on its injury list Wednesday.
Bubba Franks, Charles Woodson, Koren Robinson, and Greg Jennings were limited at practice with various ailments.
Also, McCarthy says it's too early to tell if punt returner Will Blackmon will play against the Giants.
Blackmon was limping Wednesday as has continues to get over a lingering foot injury.
For the Giants, rookie corner Aaron Ross practiced Wednesday after dislocating a shoulder in last Sunday's win over Dallas. He expects to play against the Packers.