Game rewind: Giants 24, 49ers 6
THE HERO New York receiver Plaxico Burress used his size and skill to make the play of the day with an acrobatic 50-yard reception that set up the fourth-quarter touchdown that stretched a tentative four-point lead into an 11-point advantage. He was New York's go-to receiver throughout the day and finished with a game-high 79 yards receiving while leading the Giants with five receptions. THE GOAT Left tackle Anthony Clement and right tackle Kwame Harris were the standouts of a horrid offensive performance by the 49ers – as in standing out the worst. Both struggled in pass coverage to contain New York ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, and neither could get much push in the running game as the 49ers finished with just 52 yards rushing on 22 carries. Clement also was called for a false start and had two holding penalties. One was declined, and the other wiped out a 31-yard pass from Cody Pickett to Brandon Lloyd that would have put the 49ers – trailing just 3-0 at the time – at the New York 2-yard line. Harris had three false starts and one holding penalty. A special mention here goes to 49ers tight end Trent Smith, who was wide open over the middle when he dropped a perfectly-placed pass by Pickett that would have taken the 49ers deep into New York territory in the first quarter and would have allowed the San Francisco offense to build some early momentum. Instead, that offense struggled the rest of the day. KEY STAT One week after rushing for a season-high 158 yards against the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense, the 49ers gained just 52 yards rushing on 22 carries, a 2.4 average. Kevan Barlow, San Francisco's leading rusher, was limited to just 4 yards on 10 carries. Take away a 22-yard run by rookie Frank Gore on a gimmick pitch play, and the 49ers gained just 30 yards on their other 21 rushing plays. THE TURNING POINT Trailing 3-0 late in the second quarter, the 49ers drove from their own 21-yard line to a first down at the New York 30 at the two-minute warning. But then three consecutive San Francisco penalties pushed the Niners back to their own 47 for a third-and-33 play. Pickett, scrambling toward the right sideline, made an ill-advised throw back over the middle intended for receiver Arnaz Battle. Safety Brent Alexander stepped in front of Battle for an interception at the New York 40 and returned it two yards before lateraling the ball to cornerback Will Allen, who took the return another 17 yards to the San Francisco 41. The Giants scored the first touchdown four plays later. Instead of potentially tying the game or going ahead before halftime, the 49ers found themselves down 10-0 at the intermission after the sudden turn of events. THE BIG PLAY The 49ers scored field goals on each of their first two second-half possessions to creep within 10-6, and the Giants began their third possession of the third quarter at their own 38. On first down, quarterback Eli Manning stepped up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush of Bryant Young and lofted a deep pass down the right sideline. Burress, covered closely by cornerback Bruce Thornton, reached up with his right to grab the ball, then cradled it on his shoulder pad as he twisted to the ground for an outstanding catch. The 50-yard completion took the ball to the San Francisco 15, and the Giants scored a touchdown five plays later to put the game out of reach. STANDOUT PERFORMER Manning misfired several times in the first half, but he came through with the big plays when the Giants needed them, setting up New York's final two touchdowns with precise throws that allowed his big receivers to go up and get the ball for big gains. He also connected with tight end Jeremy Shockey on a 32-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half and finished with a fine 89.3 quarterback rating after completing 18 of 33 passes for 251 yards. BY THE NUMBERS 0: Touchdowns passes so far this season by the four quarterbacks currently on the 49ers' roster 0.4: Rushing average for 49ers tailback Kevan Barlow, who finished with four net yards on 10 carries 2: Passes completed by 49ers in first half 2.9: Average yards per rush by Giants, who gained 93 yards rushing on 32 carries 3: Total rushing first downs in game by 49ers 3.0 Average gain by 49ers on their 46 offensive plays 4: Different starting quarterbacks for 49ers in San Francisco's last five games 5: Games this season the 49ers have been limited to nine first downs or less 5:31: Time remaining in first half when 49ers picked up their first first down of the game 6: Team-leading total of receptions by Barlow, matching his career high 6:10: Time of possession advantage for Giants, who controlled the football for 33 minutes, five seconds 9: Consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass by Giants quarterback Eli Manning, the longest streak in the NFL 11.1 Quarterback rating for 49ers' starter Cody Pickett in first half 12: Penalties by the 49ers, their season high total 13: Total yards of offense by 49ers in first quarter 21: Consecutive San Francisco points scored by kicker Joe Nedney over the past two weeks, accounting for all the 49ers' scoring in those two games 50.1 Quarterback rating for Pickett at end of game 61: Total yards of offense by 49ers in first half 80: Yards in penalties by 49ers, their season high 86: Total net yards passing by 49ers 123.3: Quarterback rating for Giants' starter Eli Manning in first half 138: Total yards of offense by 49ers, their lowest total of the season and fifth time in eight games this year they've been held below 200 yards 156: Combined yards receiving by Giants receiver Plaxico Burress and tight end Jeremy Shockey 161: Total yards in penalties in game by both teams 344: Total yards of offense by the Giants, the second-lowest total allowed by the 49ers' defense this season FAST FACTS --- The Giants beat the 49ers for the first time since 1991, snapping a six-game losing streak in the series between the two teams. The 49ers still hold a 17-15 lead in the all-time series. --- Sunday's game marked the first time since 1974 the 49ers have started four different quarterbacks in the same season. --- The 49ers had four players hurt in the game. Guard Eric Heitmann left with a neck stinger in the second half and did not return. He's listed as probable on San Francisco's injury report, as are center Jeremy Newberry (ankle/shoulder/knee), cornerback Shawntae Spencer (ribs) and fullback Fred Beasley (thumb). --- Receiver Arnaz Battle did not start but returned to action for the first time since Oct. 9, catching his first pass since Week 3. He finished with two receptions for 17 yards. --- The 49ers started the game in a two-tight end formation for the second time this season, with Trent Smith starting on one end and rookie Billy Bajema on the other in place of fullback Fred Beasley. --- The 49ers reached midseason with a 2-6 record after going 1-7 in their first eight games last year. --- After a two-game homestand, the 49ers now go back on the road to face the Chicago Bears next week. It's the third consecutive week they will face a NFC divisional leader and the fourth straight game they'll face a NFL divisional leader.
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