Giants NFC Champ. Game Report Card
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Exactly how well did the G-Men play in San Francisco? Here are our grades:
Giants' NFC Championship Game report card
The Giants were facing the NFL’s best run defense, so there wasn’t a lot of space to run. But Ahmad Bradshaw churned out 74 yards on 20 carries and came up big in overtime. On the game-winning drive, Bradshaw gained 18 yards to move the Giants from the Niners’ 24 down to the 6-yard line, making Lawrence Tynes’ game winner an easier one. Bradshaw also had six receptions for 52 yards.
Eli Manning threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns against an incredibly stubborn 49ers defense. Victor Cruz was huge in the first half, with eight catches for 125 yards. (He finished with 10 receptions for 142 yards.) Manning completed passes to eight different receivers, and Bear Pascoe and Mario Manningham caught the two touchdowns. Manning did all this under duress, as he was hit 12 times and sacked six times.
The Niners rushed for 150 yards, but they never really hurt the Giants badly on the ground the way they could have. Frank Gore had 74 yards, and Alex Smith scrambled for 42 yards. Kendall Hunter added 31 yards, but the Niners didn’t score a rushing touchdown and did not have a run longer than 18 yards. The Giants utilized three defensive tackles at times to stop the run.
This grade isn’t higher only because Vernon Davis scored two touchdowns on breakdowns in coverage. He scored on a 73-yard catch-and-run and a 28-yard touchdown as well. But other than that, Alex Smith completed passes to only three other Niners, as the Giants did an exceptional job in coverage. Michael Crabtree finished with just one catch for 3 yards, the only catch by a Niners wide receiver.
What a turnaround the special-teams unit has made since the DeSean Jackson game in 2010! Devin Thomas recovered two fumbles on punt returns by Kyle Williams. The second fumble was forced by rookie Jacquian Williams, and the Giants scored 10 points off the turnovers, including Lawrence Tynes’ game-winning field goal. Steve Weatherford was outstanding, punting 12 times and handling a low snap on the Tynes winner.
The Giants are back in the Super Bowl, and much of the credit has to go to Tom Coughlin. He has pushed all the right buttons, including delivering a stirring emotional speech on Saturday night that left the head coach choked up. Perry Fewell’s defense had two breakdowns in coverage, but was immovable when the game was on the line. Kevin Gilbride found a way for his offense to move the ball and score when needed, and Tom Quinn’s special-teams unit won the game with two turnovers.
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