|Giants coach Tom Coughlin's bark transferred into his team's 26-3 bite out of the San Francisco 49ers. (US Presswire)|
Whether or not the Giants’ 26-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers was, in fact, an upset is definitely up for debate. Coach Tom Coughlin didn’t feel like his team was given much of a chance heading into Week 6, while many in the media felt he was simply trying to motivate his team -- a squad that happens to be the defending Super Bowl Champions.
But regardless of the outcome, the details of Sunday’s win were undoubtedly surprising. New York outrushed San Francisco -- the NFL’s top running offense and seventh-ranked run defense entering the game -- and dominated the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. The Giants won the possession battle, rejuvenated their pass rush and won the turnover battle.
It’s not that these are new things for this franchise, but the last time fans saw the Giants' defense playing like this, they were marching toward their fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Quarterback Eli Manning hadn’t thrown for less than 200 yards in a game since Week 14 of the 2010 season, but you won’t hear him complaining. The Giants won on Sunday by playing like the 49ers. With a first-half lead in hand, they turned to the run and possessed the ball for 11:14 in the fourth quarter, making a San Francisco comeback all but impossible. Coming off a 200-yard performance against the Cleveland Browns, Ahmad Bradshaw finished with 116 yards on 27 carries in what may actually be his best performance of the season. Victor Cruz got the best of 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers and the offensive line was nothing short of brilliant. Previous game's grade: A-
The 49ers were trailing for most of Sunday’s game, which meant they practically abandoned their prized running game. The Giants defense didn’t seem to mind. The unit that had just eight sacks entering Sunday picked up six and also forced three interceptions (two caught by Antrel Rolle, another by Prince Amukamara). But perhaps the best thing that you can say about the Giants defense is that it bent, but never broke. The 49ers possessed the ball for 11:24 in the first quarter and only came away with three points. Even Randy Moss’ 55-yard reception was ultimately fruitless. Perry Fewell’s unit has been waiting for a big performance like this. Previous game's grade: B-
Special teams: B-
Once again, kick returner David Wilson had a nice effort ruined by a holding call, but he did reel off a 66-yard return as well. The biggest mark against this unit was the blocked field goal (Coughlin seemed to want an offsides call on the play) but kicker Lawrence Tynes did nail his other four attempts. Two of Steve Weatherford’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, which is an improvement from last week. Both the kick and punt coverage teams did well. Previous game's grade: C
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride took some heat from 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for mentioning Justin Smith’s propensity toward defensive holding, but Gilbride got the last laugh. Not only did New York out-possess the 49ers for the final three quarters of the game, but Manning was never sacked, which is usually what happens when Smith is allowed to get away with defensive holding. Fewell’s unit was brilliant in coverage, the defensive line held up despite the injuries at defensive tackle and even though Mario Manningham gained seven yards on a reverse, he was nearly tackled well behind the line. Clearly Fewell anticipated that play, but the Giants defense didn’t execute properly. Of course, they did have six sacks and three interceptions, so Fewell is probably not too concerned. Previous game's grade: A-
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