MJ steals the show

Michael Johnson has been playing very well this season. But as any defensive back knows, unless you're picking off passes, most folks aren't likely to even notice. That all changed last Sunday as Johnson's first two career interceptions were the main reason that Big Blue improved to 5-1, knocking off the 49ers by a 29-17 count.

"Turnovers are everything," Johnson said. "Coach Coughlin always addresses statistics and tendencies and what wins ballgames. He always emphasizes the least amount of penalties as possible and causing turnovers. And that is what really helped us out today."

Johnson began his glorious afternoon with a layup, as 49ers signal-caller J.T. O'Sullivan either didn't see Johnson or just fired a really bad pass. Johnson was the only one near the ball as he picked it off at the Niners 27 and returned it 18 yards all the way down to the 49ers 9-yard line.

"On the first interception I just jumped to my zone," Johnson explained. "My key went across the field so I just stayed on the backside of my zone. The quarterback just threw it right to me."

Johnson admitted that since TDs are so hard to come by for defensive players that he was trying his absolute best to reach the goal line.

"I was trying to get to the end zone," he smiled. "I was trying hard."

On San Fran's next drive, their final before the half, Johnson struck again. He raced downfield stride-for-stride with Arnaz Battle before grabbing the ball in the end zone, which allowed New York to take a 17-10 lead into halftime.

"On the second turnover I was man-to-man on (Battle) and I stayed inside and he threw the ball right to me," he explained. "It stuck out like a gift."

Coughlin couldn't have been happier.

"That was huge," he said. "You are talking about a game that could have been tied or at least a field goal there and Michael Johnson with two interceptions today, both of them were huge plays."

Johnson's pick was a split second from going in the Niners' favor.

"If he held his head looking at the receiver one more second, it probably would have been a touchdown," veteran corner Sam Madison said.

"I was just trying to stay with the receiver," Johnson added. "It was going to hit me in the face if I didn't catch it."

Madison was happy to see number 20 earn some recognition.

"It was well-deserved and well-needed," he said. "He's always giving 110 percent effort. That was good for Michael Johnson and good for the team."

Streak snapped

John Carney made his first field goal attempt, from 21 yards, extending his streak to 13 in a row this season and 19 in a row dating back to 2007, which was the NFL's longest active streak. The 13 in a row was the longest by a Giants kicker since Jay Feely hit 13 consecutive field goal attempts from Sept. 19-Oct. 30, 2005.

However, the streak ended when Carney's second attempt was blocked by Manny Lawson and returned 74 yards for a touchdown by Nate Clements. It was the first Giants field goal attempt blocked since Dec. 24, 2005, when Washington's Renaldo Wynn knocked down a 29-yard attempt by Jay Feely. Wynn now plays for the Giants. Clements' touchdown was the first for a Giants opponent on a blocked field goal since Dec. 14, 2003, when Fred Thomas of New Orleans brought one back 64 yards.

"Sure, it happens," Carney said. "They just made a great play. It was a great athletic move by their player and it is hard to do what that guy did. But he pulled it off. That is why you play the game. I'm glad we had a chance to kick it again. I started hitting all my gears on chasing him, but he was 10 yards ahead of me, and I wasn't going to catch him. Well, the bottom line is that we won. You never play a perfect game, but that is your goal. You set out to do the best that you can and we came away with a ‘W' and at the end of the day that is all that really matters."

Coughlin said that he didn't hesitate to send Carney back out for the 48-yarder that he drilled early in the fourth quarter.


Speaking of superb specialists, Coughlin said that he was very pleased with the effort of punter Jeff Feagles against the Niners. Feagles averaged 48.8 yards on six punts, with an incredible net of 45.5.

"Jeff had a heck of a game today," Coughlin said. "I was very, very pleased with the way he punted the ball. Jeff, I thought, hit the ball really well. He pushed the returners into the corner where we had better opportunities to keep them pinned-in too."

By the numbers

The Giants improved to 5-1, their best six-game start since they were 5-1 in 1993… The Giants improved to 4-0 at home this season, which is one victory more than they had in Giants Stadium each of the previous two years…

The Giants offense did not have a turnover for the third time this season (St. Louis, Cincinnati). The Giants have won their last 15 games (12 regular season, three postseason) in which the offense did not turn the ball over.

Depleted LBs

As the Giants feared all week, Antonio Pierce was unable to play against San Francisco due to his quad injury. Chase Blackburn took his place as the starting MLB. Also, as expected, Gerris Wilkinson was sidelined due to a knee injury. Rookie Bryan Kehl started in his place. The rest of the inactives were K Lawrence Tynes, CB R.W. McQuarters, RB Danny Ware, OT Adam Koets, WR Sinorice Moss and DE Jerome McDougle.

Yes, Tynes was inactive even after stating earlier last week that he would be doing the kicking. After the game, Coughlin said that Tynes' public comments, on which he clearly frowned, had nothing to do with the coach's final decision.

Also, rookie Jonathan Goff made his NFL debut with two special teams tackles.

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