Eli Manning didn't get a short toss on a first-and-10 play from the Niners' 20 high enough, so NT Aubrayo Franklin tipped it and MLB Derek Smith intercepted it at the Niners' 15 late in the first quarter. But Manning would've completed 17-of-22 passes in the first half had RBs Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs not combined for three drops. Bottom Line: Manning didn't make many mistakes.
Only five of RB Brandon Jacobs' 18 carries accounted for fewer than four yards. And five of Jacobs' 13 carries in the first half went for first downs, while another was good for a five-yard touchdown. Derrick Ward dropped two passes in a seven-play span in the first quarter. The second drop should've resulted in a seven-yard touchdown, but Ward couldn't hold on near the goal line, despite that he was all alone. Bottom Line: Jacobs ran hard and avoided aggravating his ankle injury.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
TE Jeremy Shockey wrestled three San Francisco defenders to gain the extra two yards he needed for a first down on a 13-yard reception late in the third quarter. WR Amani Toomer got behind discombobulated CB Walt Harris for a 24-yard catch near the Giants' sideline with 1:10 left in the second quarter. The big gain gave the Giants the ball at their own 46 and they went ahead 19-7 on Lawrence Tynes' 39-yard FG seven plays later. Bottom Line: Shockey and Toomer produced when the Niners neutralized Plaxico Burress.
The Niners' lone sack of Manning was an assignment miscue on the left side of the Giants' offensive front, not a physical loss to a San Francisco defender. The front five consistently opened huge holes for Jacobs, too. Bottom Line: This unit is quietly having an impressive season.
RDE Osi Umenyiora blew through the left side of San Francisco's offensive line, blasted QB Trent Dilfer and quickly scooped up Dilfer's fumble to return it 75 yards for a touchdown that essentially put the game out of reach early in the third quarter (26-7). LDE Michael Strahan bulled his way past RT Joe Staley to sack Dilfer for a nine-yard loss that forced the Niners into a third-and-13 situation from their own 14. Umenyiora faked out LT Jonas Jennings on the ensuing play, which forced San Francisco to punt and gave the Giants great field position (their own 42) in the first quarter. Bottom Line: They embarrassed another offensive line.
MLB Antonio Pierce was way late to the pile and definitely deserved a silly personal foul for hitting a vulnerable Dilfer when he was down early in the third quarter. SLB Mathias Kiwanuka couldn't sack Dilfer for a large loss early in the second quarter, so Dilfer ran for 11 yards to create a third-and-one situation at the Giants' 18. The Niners went ahead 7-6 three plays later after WR Arnaz Battle's 17-yard touchdown reception. Pierce should've showed restraint earlier as well, but still hit a standing Dilfer late on the last play of the first quarter. The infraction resulted in a 15-yard penalty that moved the Niners to their own 45. Bottom Line: Pierce's pick in the fourth quarter helped atone for his two penalties.
RCB Sam Madison made a perfect break away from his own coverage to step in front of Battle and intercept a telegraphed Dilfer pass at the Niners' 36, with about six minutes left in the first half. LCB Aaron Ross should've remained on his feet in coverage, but jumped to try to bat away a Dilfer pass to Battle that resulted in a 17-yard touchdown that helped move the Niners in front 7-6 with 9:50 left in the first half. Bottom Line: The coverage was successful, other than one 47-yard catch by Ashley Lelie.
FB Moran Norris somehow came straight up the middle, unblocked, to cleanly block Jeff Feagles' punt in the end zone. The resulting safety drew the Niners within 17 points (26-9) and forced Feagles to "punt" from the Giants' 20 with 8:51 left in the third quarter. San Francisco started its ensuing drive at its own 40. K Lawrence Tynes was wide left and missed an extra point attempt following the Giants' first touchdown of the game. Bottom Line: This wasn't their best work.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo designed a plan to frustrate another offensive front, which couldn't contain Justin Tuck from an interior line position when he played in obvious passing situations. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride got mixed results when he didn't shy away from using Ward (seven carries, 27 yards) and Reuben Droughns (five carries, seven yards), despite Jacobs' success on the ground. Bottom Line: They haven't lost since Sept. 16.
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