The New York Giants have advanced to the Super Bowl by beating the San Francisco 49ers in overtime 20-17. These two teams have had a history in playing epic games dating back to 1986 when the Giants defeated the 49ers 17-3 to capture their first Super bowl title. On the Giants second Super Title run in 1990, they defeated the 49ers again in a classic battle 15-13 on a Matt Barr
game winning FG. This game equaled the excitement of those historic clashes and for the most part, exceeded them with big plays on both sides of the ball. The game started with the 49ers failing to sustain any kind of offense on their first possession. The Giants on their first possession were very proficient as Eli Manning
(32/58 316 yards, 2 TD and no interceptions) connected on several third down conversions until Manning
fumbled on third down as Kareem McKenzie
recovered it, forcing the Giants to punt.
On the second play of the 49ers second possession, Alex Smith
connected to Vernon Davis
(3 catches for 112 yards) for a 78 yard TD pass. On the play, it appeared that Antrel Role
was expecting help from Corey Webster
and seemed flat footed as Davis ran by him. Both defenses were outplaying the other teams offense as the score remained 7-0 49ers as the first quarter ended. On the second play of the second quarter, Eli
connected to Victor Cruz
(10 catches for 142 yards) for a huge gain on another big third down conversion. A few plays later, Manning
connected to Bear Pascoe
to tie the score at 7.
The Giants were outplaying the 49ers at this point as the defense stepped up and stopped the 49ers on consecutive drives. With the second quarter coming to an end, Manning
put on a show as the Giants marched down to the 49ers 14 yard line and settled for a 31 yard FG by Lawrence Tynes
to give the Giants a 10-7 lead heading into the Half.
As the second half began, the 49ers defense took over the game as the Giants couldn’t sustain any offense and were forced to punt on two straight possessions in the third quarter. On the following possession, Alex Smith found Frank Gore open for a 24 yard gain and on the very next play; Smith
again in the end zone for a 49ers TD and the lead at 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter. All year the Giants have been a great come from behind team; as Eli Manning
has lead them to 6 comeback victories in the fourth quarter and today would be no different.
With the score 14-10 in favor of the 49ers, the Giants got the break they’ve been looking as Kyle Williams
(who was replacing the injured Ted Ginn Jr
) mistakenly let the ball graze his leg on a punt and Delvin Thomas
alertly picked it up. Originally, the call on the field was a dead ball and 49ers ball. However, Tom Couglin
challenged the play and won the challenge. Manning
quickly took advantage and after a couple of fine receptions from Cruz
inside the 49ers 20 yard line. After a holding penalty on the Giants, Manning
was looking at a third and long and once again, Manning
found a way and connected with Mario Manningham
for a Giants TD and the lead at 17-14.
The 49ers responded quickly as well and moved the ball inside the Giants red zone and ended up kicking a FG to tie the score at 17-17 with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. From this point on both defenses were dominating the action as both offenses were forced to punt with each possession as regulation time expired; forcing overtime. As overtime began, the Giants won the coin flip, but couldn’t move the ball as both teams were forced to punt on their first two possessions in overtime.
The turning point in the game occurred when the Giants punted to Kyle Williams
( who earlier had a miscue on a punt) and was stripped by Jacquian Williams
and fumbled the ball into the hands of Delvin Thomas
; setting up the winning FG by Tynes for a Giants 20-17 victory and a trip to their fifth Super Bowl. Manning
was truly outstanding in this game; as he was sacked 6 times, knocked down 12 times and hit 20 more times. The Giants not only won the game, but they also won other major categories such as: Time of possession (39:36 to 28:18), First downs (20 to 15), third down efficiency (7-21 33% to 1-13 7%), total yards (352 to 328), red zone (2-4 50% to 0-1 0%).
Now the Giants will face the New England Patriots in a rematch from Super Bowl 42 where the Giants ended the Patriots plight for perfection by defeating them 17-14. Make no mistake, the Patriots haven’t forgotten that; nor have they forgotten a lost to the Giants during the season as well. This rematch will have all the whistles and bells and should be a classic in the making.