Giant memories

Niners linebacker Julian Peterson talks about everything that has happened since the last time the 49ers faced the New York Giants, a 39-38 playoff victory after the 2002 season that featured one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, and he also gives his take on the development of New York quarterback Eli Manning, among other subjects.

Q: This will mark the first time the Giants will play in San Francisco since the dramatic 39-38 49ers victory in the 2002 playoffs. What memories do you have of that game?

Peterson:
Well, there were a lot emotions flying. Obviously, we started off pretty fast and they (the Giants) set the tempo and pretty much controlled the majority of the game. Then, we just came back in great fashion, as our team prepared to trade over and the 12th man from the crowd just kind of rolled over too. So, it was a very emotional game. (There were) a lot of big plays and a lot instant replays that were called. It was great though and it was a great playoff atmosphere.

Q: Will you or some of the other defensive veterans such as Bryant Young use such memories to spur on the younger members of your defensive unit this week?

Peterson:
Well, it's a totally different situation. At that time, it was a whole different team, whole different staff, and everything. But, right now we're just trying to get better game after game after game. We're coming off a nice win from last week and we just don't want to repeat what we did the very first week with the Rams in having a nice win and just coming back with a couple slump games after that. So, we just want to try and keep the same intensity we had last week and keep it going from there.

Q: The kind of weird thing about that (2002 playoff) game and here in New York that game is kind of remembered as, obviously, a heartbreaking loss with the way the game ended with the field goal and the comeback that you guys had on them. And the next year the team went 4-12 and Jim Fassel was fired and so on. But, for you guys, you went onto the next game and lost to Tampa Bay and then Mariucci was dismissed. In other words, it really didn't spur you guys onto anything else or anything much different than the Giants.

Peterson:
Pretty much. We went through the same situation pretty much.

Q: And then neither team has been to the playoffs since then. Is that game viewed in your mind as kind of the last time…?

Peterson:
Well, I thought in 2003 we had potential. We just had some mishaps. I would say a couple of times we lost four games less than a point away. Some of them came down to field goals, some of them came down to we should have played a little bit better to stop that situation from happening. But, life goes on and the season goes on. Hopefully, we'll just try to get back to where we were and get back in the playoff hunt.

Q: Does it seem like a long time ago since you guys were in a playoff game?

Peterson:
Well, yeah it does, really. I was so used to going every year at one point and now it's like the last two years, we have not been there. Last three years now or it might be two? Is it two? That's too long for me. I'm used to those extra little checks that we get and get to the next point to try and get to the Super Bowl level and actually play in the game to win. That's what we're all trying to get go. There's only really one person who has experienced that, which is Bryant Young, that I know of.

Q: What do you see from the Giants offense?

Peterson:
I see a lot of potential playmakers and they have a lot of explosive guys, particularly Tiki Barber, who can hurt you on the ground and as far as catching the ball out of the backfield, too. You also have (Jeremy) Shockey, who is also a great weapon. They also added Plaxico Burress, a nice big receiver and big red-zone type of guy. Amani Toomer has always been consistent for them year after year. And you have to give your props and tip your hat to Eli Manning, who's been playing great, considering last year when he had a rough little start. But, he's doing great. So, we have to find a way to disrupt his timing, too. But, they have a very good offensive team. So, we just have to make sure that we can hold them off and make sure they don't get any explosive plays or any big plays on us and control the tempo.

Q: What do you see more specifically from Eli?

Peterson:
I just see that his awareness has gotten a lot better. His progressions have gotten a lot better just looking down the field and what to expect as far as who's covered and who's not and what type of zone it is. You can tell he knows the game a little bit better now. It seems like he's been doing a lot of studying with his brother and it's paying off for him. But, still at times you can get him rattled. When the pressure gets to him a little bit, he kind of looks at the pressure first and then decides to throw where he has to throw. If we continue to put on a lot of heat in his face like (we did) last week, then we'll be successful at what we have to do.


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