The first time the New York Giants went to Candlestick Park this season to meet the San Francisco 49ers they were 6-2 and coming off an impressive road victory over the New England Patriots. The Giants came out of that game with a 27-20 loss, a game that sent them spiraling into a six-game stretch where they lost five times.
That game was a back-and-forth affair the Giants thought they had a chance to win right until the end when Justin Smith batted away an Eli Manning pass on fourth-and-two from San Francisco's 10-yard line in the waning seconds, killing a Giants' comeback attempt.
"I thought we were in perfect control. I thought we would get there, score, put it into overtime, win it in overtime," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the loss.
The Giants led that game 13-12, but in a season where fourth-quarter magic has been their specialty they watched the 49ers score 15 straight points to take a 27-12 lead. This time, their rally fell just short.
The Giants dominated time of possession in the game, 34:36 to 25:24, but could not push across enough points against the San Francisco defense.
Just like with Green Bay, which narrowly defeated the Giants during the regular season, the Giants have been pining for another shot at the 49ers.
"They are a good team. We are a good team. We will run back into them," said Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham after the loss.
Now, the Giants have that chance they wanted. Question is, can they take advantage of it the way they did against Green Bay? A trip to Super Bowl XLVI depends on it.