Monday, November 14, 2011

49ers beat NFC rival Giants

The NFC East leader, NY Giants, marched into Candlestick with a 6-2 record, fresh off knocking off the Patriots in New England.  It was hard-fought defensive struggle, but then in essentially 5 plays, the 49ers grabbed momentum and memorably kept their 7 game winning streak intact by winning 27-20.

- The 49ers enter the 4th quarter after just going down 13-12.  Frustratingly not being able to score a TD though being in the redzone all game, Alex Smith exploits a blown coverage and finds Vernon Davis for a 31 yard TD.

- Crabtree comes out of the backfield, streaks toward just inside the right pylon to receive the 2 point conversion for a 7 point lead.

- Ensuing kickoff, the entire special teams unit races downfield like banshees and swarms the returner at the 11 yard line.

- Eli Manning is picked off across the middle by Carlos Rogers at the 34 (Manningham inexplicably cut off his route), who returns it to the 17.

- Very next play, Kendall Hunter scampers into the end zone for a 2 TD lead.

Of course, with 34 seconds left, Justin Smith's 4th down knockdown of Manning's pass after a long 6 minutes drive seals the victory.  But that early 4th quarter sequence, displaying the 49ers' toughness in all 3 facets of the game, was the turning point.

With a commanding 5 game lead in the NFC West for a playoff berth, the 49ers have turned their attention to attaining a 1st round playoff bye.  As they stand at 8-1 (only SF and undefeated GB have less than 3 losses), they are 1.5 games ahead of the 7-3 Saints and 2 games ahead of the 6-3 Giants, Lions and Bears.  And again, SF has only played one divisional game vs NFC West opponents.  Is it possible to avoid midseason letdowns, overconfidence, inevitable injuries (Gore, please be okay) and misfortune and hold onto the 1st round bye?

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