The 49ers failed to score a single point in the first quarter of any of their first four games of the season, but Sunday night against the Giants they got off to an uncharacteristically fast start.
On the second play of the opening drive Colin Kaepernick found Bruce Ellington for a 30-yard reception to bring the ball to New York’s 45-yard line. After a pair of Carlos Hyde runs that brought the ball to the 24, San Francisco’s drive stalled.
Phil Dawson booted through a 42-yard field goal to open the scoring and give the 49ers their only first quarter points of the season.
The Giants were quick to respond with Eli Manning guiding Big Blue on a 9 play, 76 yard drive highlighted by Odell Beckham Jr.’s 49-yard catch. New York drove down to the 49ers 3-yard line and faced a 3rd-and-1 with Andre Williams getting thrown into his own backfield for a loss of one-yard. New York settled for a 22-yard field goal to even the score at 3-3.
Following a San Francisco punt, the Giants took over at their own 19-yard line. Manning found tight end Larry Donnell on a pair of 5-yard receptions on two of the first three plays of the series to move the chains. On the eighth play of the drive Beckham hauled in a pass over the middle and weaved in and out of would-be tackles for a 31-yard gain. Two plays later Manning connected once again with Beckham for a 10-yarder bringing the ball to the 49ers 11-yard line.
Manning found running back Shane Vereen on a two-yard touchdown pass to extend New York’s lead to 10-3.
Kaepernick and the 49ers offense failed to sustain the subsequent drive as they were forced to punt from their own 33.
Manning and company took over and marched 43 yards on ten plays capped by a Josh Brown 41 yard field goal.
San Francisco finally showed some life offensively on the ensuing drive as Torrey Smith’s 17-yard catch moved the ball into Giants’ territory. Kaepernick scampered for 15-yards on the sixth play of the drive and brought the ball to the 13. The 49ers quarterback targeted wide receiver Anquan Boldin on three straight plays, connecting with him just once as the drive stalled at the 4-yard line.
Dawson was good from 22-yards and the Giants lead shrunk to seven points at 13-6.
New York took possession with just over 1:00 remaining in the first half and Manning orchestrated a terrific drive down to the San Francisco 14-yard line. The Giants quarterback the slung a pass that was intended for Beckham, but was intercepted by Tramaine Brock to end the scoring threat.
The Giants went three-and-out to start the third quarter.
Kaepernick finally directed a touchdown drive as he found Boldin for a three-yard score on the tenth play of the 88-yard trek.
The game was knotted at 13, but not for long.
With 4:30 left in the quarter, Manning dinked and dunked his way from the Giants 39-yard line all the way down to the 49ers 17-yard line.
New York’s signal-caller found Beckham on an underneath route and the speedster spun towards the sidelines and raced into the end zone. After the play Beckham appeared to be limping and left the game with a hamstring injury. He would eventually return in the final quarter. The Giants quickly reestablished a seven point lead.
The fourth quarter was a scoring frenzy with Kaepernick leading an 11 play, 80 yard drive and finding tight end Garrett Celek for six points with 11:49 left in the contest.
For the second time of the night the game was tied.
Seven minutes later the Giants recaptured the lead 23-20, courtesy of a 24-yard chip shot from Brown. New York had a prime opportunity for a touchdown by Vereen was stopped short of the first down at the 49ers 5-yard line. The MetLife Stadium crowd booed vociferously as the Giants trotted out the field goal unit.
Staring a potential 1-4 start to his season straight in his face, Kaepernick answered the bell starting off the possession with a 25 yard completion to Smith to the Giants 45. On the next play, Kaepernick found Boldin for a 26-yard catch and run to get within field goal range. The 49ers would hand the ball off to Hyde on the next two plays as he rushed for 8 yards then 19 yards down to the New York 4-yard line.
Two plays later Hyde punched it in for the touchdown to give San Francisco its first lead since 3-0.
The 49ers faithful at the Meadowlands roared in celebration as they were 1:45 away from the victory.
Unfortunately for Jim Tomsula and crew, Manning had other plans in mind.
New York’s signal-caller methodically using a 11-yard scramble and 11-yard pass to Vereen to get up to the Giants 40-yard line. Manning then connected with Vereen on a screen pass as he hustled 16-yards into 49ers territory.
The Giants took a timeout to stop the clock with 50 seconds and recollect themselves.
Coming out of the timeout Manning faced pressure in the pocket and heaved the ball in desperation which initially appeared to be intercepted by Brock. Upon review, the call on the field was reversed and New York kept possession.
Following an incomplete pass intended for Beckham on second down, Vereen hauled in a pass and scooted 24 yards to the 49ers 20.-yard line.
Manning threw in the direction of Beckham once again who drew a pass interference call from Arik Armstead.
With 21 seconds remaining, Manning slung a picture perfect pass in the back of the end zone for Donnell who made a miraculous catch and secured the ball for the score.
The Giants finished off San Francisco and captured an improbable victory. New York started the season 0-2 and three wins later is now atop the NFC East at 3-2.
Big Blue will travel to the City of Brotherly Love to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 6.
- Manning suprassed 400 yards passing in a regular season game for the seventh time in his career.
- Manning set a new Giants record with 41 completions eclipsing the old mark of 40 set by Phil Simms in Oct. 1985
- Manning exceeded 300 passing yards in a regular season game for the 34th time of his career
- Manning moved into 12th place in NFL history moving ahead of Kerry Collins on the all-time QB passing yards list
- Beckham had the 9th 100+ yard receiving game of his career.
- Josh Brown tied his own Giants franchise record with his 17th consecutive made field goal