NFC East: Antrel Rolle

Rapid Reaction: Giants 26, 49ers 3

October, 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO –- Tom Coughlin said nobody gave the New York Giants a chance to win. But they left Candlestick with another victory over the favored San Francisco 49ers, 26-3 on Sunday.

What it means: The Giants wanted to see how they measured up to an NFC contender. When it was over, the Giants reminded everyone who the defending Super Bowl champions are and how good this team can be when it is motivated and healthy.

The Giants made a statement by dominating the Niners on their own turf. The defense came up with its best performance of the season, suffocating the Niners' offense. Eli Manning and the offensive line were sensational. The Giants moved the offense against perhaps the best defense in the NFL.

More importantly, this is the kind of win that can propel the Giants to a solid winning streak. The Giants have won two straight and will roll into two critical division games with a ton of momentum.

The ball hawk: The Giants got the sacks they wanted, but they also collected something even better –- three rare interceptions of Alex Smith.

Smith came into this game having thrown just one interception on the season. But Prince Amukamara picked off a pass in the first half and Antrel Rolle intercepted Smith twice in the third quarter, helping to set up two Giants field goals.

Rolle said last year that he often was not put in position to be the ball hawk that he wants to be. He certainly harassed Smith on Sunday.

No Vernon: Vernon Davis scored three touchdowns against the Giants in two games last season. On Sunday, he was invisible when the game was on the line. He made just two catches for 13 yards in the first three quarters.

O-line: The Giants' offensive line felt as if it had something to prove after giving up six sacks and 12 official quarterback hits to the Niners defense in the NFC title game. This time, Manning's jersey was kept clean and Ahmad Bradshaw broke the 100-yard barrier for the second straight Sunday, this time against an elite run defense.

Salsa time: After all the back and forth about the salsa with Carlos Rogers last week, Rogers had to watch Victor Cruz do it at his expense in the first half.

Cruz caught a Manning bullet over the middle in the back of the end zone and delivered his patented salsa celebration. Rogers initially said he might mimic the salsa again if he made a play. But after finding out that Cruz dedicated the salsa to his late grandmother, Rogers said he wouldn't do it.

Diehl comes off bench: David Diehl was active for the first time since Sept. 16 when he injured his MCL against Tampa Bay.

He came in as the extra blocker. The Giants opted to keep Sean Locklear at right tackle and Will Beatty at left tackle with the offensive line doing well. Diehl had started all 142 regular-season games he played in for the Giants.

Special-teams miscues: The Giants had a field goal blocked near the end of the first half, but the Niners helped the Giants' cause with two missed field goals. David Akers missed from 43 and 52 yards.

What's next: The Giants get their first taste of Robert Griffin III next Sunday at home. At 0-2 in the division, the Giants need an NFC East victory.
GLENDALE –- After an emotional win in Philadelphia last week, the Giants won their third straight game with an impressive come-from-behind victory over the Cardinals.

What it means: The Giants looked like they were heading for a loss when they allowed Beanie Wells to score with about five minutes to go to fall behind 27-17. But Eli Manning threw for two touchdowns in the final 3:44 to complete a stunning comeback and take advantage of the Eagles and Cowboys losing on Sunday.

A little controversy: On the game-winning drive, the Giants were aided by a somewhat controversial call. Manning completed a 19-yard pass to Victor Cruz, who appeared to stumble to the turf untouched. As he got up without the ball, the Cardinals recovered the ball and argued they recovered a fumble. But Arizona could not challenge the play because the officials ruled that Cruz voluntarily went down. Manning hit Nicks for a 29-yard touchdown on the next play to push the Giants up 31-27.

Beanie and Fitz: The Giants almost lost the game because they couldn't handle Wells, who rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Wells scored all three of his touchdowns running toward his left and over the right side of the Giants defensive line. He flattened Corey Webster on one touchdown run and ran over Greg Jones on his second.

The Giants also couldn't contain Larry Fitzgerald, who finished with eight receptions for 102 yards, for most of the game. Fitzgerald set up Wells’ first touchdown run with a huge 47-yard catch that saw him out-muscle safety Deon Grant for a jump ball. But the Giants won the game when Webster broke up the Cardinals' final pass to Fitzgerald on a fourth down.

Tuck out: After flying to Arizona with the team, defensive end Justin Tuck did not play due to pain in his neck and a strained groin.

Jason Pierre-Paul started at left defensive end. Dave Tollefson, the Giants backup defensive end, saw more playing time and collected two sacks in the first half.

Welcome back: Defensive end Osi Umenyiora made his season debut after missing the first three games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Umenyiora had a patented strip sack as he came off the edge and forced a Kevin Kolb fumble in the first quarter. Umenyiora also sacked Kolb on the final drive.

Injury report: Center David Baas suffered a “burner” in the third quarter according to the Giants. Tuck’s neck injury also was classified as a burner initially when he suffered it against the Jets in the preseason.

Backup Kevin Boothe came in for Baas and got beat by nose tackle David Carter, who stripped Manning for a fumble. The Cardinals recovered at the Giants’ five-yard-line and would score a few plays later on a Wells’ touchdown run to go up 20-10 with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard suffered a rib injury during the third quarter as well.

Antrel returns: Safety Antrel Rolle played his first five seasons in Arizona before signing with the Giants in 2010. Playing against the Cardinals for the first time, he came up with an interception when he read Kevin Kolb’s eyes and picked off a deep pass to the left for Fitzgerald with 10:48 remaining.

Rolle also had a big breakup to stop the Cardinals on a third down late to give Manning the ball back before the final touchdown drive.

What’s next: The Giants return home to host the Seattle Seahawks. The Giants destroyed the Seahawks, 41-7, in Seattle last year.