These two teams met last season with a chance to play in the Super Bowl on the line, and the Giants won a hard-fought battle in overtime. Two special teams errors from Kyle Williams proved to be crucial mistakes, and both the Niners and their young receiver were looking to prove that they are ready to take the next step this season.
But San Francisco’s plans could not have gone more awry on Sunday.
Alex Smith had built a reputation for being an efficient quarterback who commits few errors over the past year, but he threw three interceptions Sunday. The Niners also allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to rush for 116 yards, making him just the second player to break the 100-yard mark against San Francisco in the past 44 games, as noted by The New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano.
Correction: Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards on the 49ers last year. ... He and Bradshaw are only ones to do it vs. SF in last 44 games. #NYG— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) October 14, 2012
Eli Manning did not put up jaw-dropping numbers, completing 15-of-28 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown. But he made no errors in this game and was able to get the Giants offense to move the ball.
The Giants have been frustratingly inconsistent during the regular season in recent years, but the team’s two championships in five seasons have shown their ability to come together in the postseason.
In the playoffs, Manning has been incredibly clutch, while the defensive line has dominated. Returning to San Francisco for a rematch of the NFC Championship Game created a postseason atmosphere, and the Giants delivered once again.
Manning was unflappable, and the Giants' defensive line clamped down on the 49ers' running game, limiting them to 80 yards on 17 carries and sacking Smith six times. This pressure was a major factor in his three interceptions.
While the 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons may still end up with better records in the regular season than the Giants, this will mean little when the playoffs start.
The blowout win proves that when a game matters, New York is a scary matchup for any team in the NFL. While the team may continue to play inconsistently this season, it is still in excellent position to make the postseason at 4-2.
Manning and the defensive line will ensure that the Giants remain the team to beat in the NFC once December and January arrive.