If you're a fan of smash mouth football, Sunday's contest between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers is for you. The teams collide in a rematch of the NFC Championship game on January 22, when the Giants prevailed, 20-17, in overtime after Kyle Williams' second muffed punt return setup the game-winning field goal from Lawrence Tynes.
Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and that made the Giants running back very angry. Bradshaw played like it against the Cleveland Browns, running for a career-high 200 yards in a 41-27 victory. Thanks to the Eli Manning's three touchdown passes to Victor Cruz, Giants fans were treated to three times the salsa with the wide receiver setting a career-high in TD receptions.
Giants: Eli Manning (128-197, 1,579 yards, 10 TDs)
49ers: Alex Smith (94-137, 1,087 yards, 8 TDs)
Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw (65 carries, 333 yards, 2 TDs)
49ers: Frank Gore (79 carries, 434 yards, 4 TDs)
Giants: Victor Cruz (37 catches, 438 yards, 5 TDs)
49ers: Michael Crabtree (27 catches, 311 yards, 1 TD)
Giants: Michael Boley (3)
49ers: NaVorro Bowman (1)
STATE OF THE G-MEN
The Giants (3-2) have been a juggernaut offensively, entering the game second in total yards (429.2 per game) and scoring (30.4 ppg). Their 1,877 yards over the last four weeks are the highest over a four-game stretch in franchise history.
However, a defense that's normally the Giants' staple has struggled. The front four has just one combined sack and the stop unit is giving up 22.2 points a game while allowing 24 plays of at least 20 yards, sixth-worst in the NFL
Except for a Week 3 hiccup in Minnesota, the 49ers have had the look of a serious Super Bowl contender. The Niners (4-1) have outscored its last two opponents (Jets, Bills) 79-3 and are tied for third in scoring with 29.8 points per game. In destroying the Bills, 45-3, the 49ers became the first team in NFL history with 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing, totaling a franchise-record 621. Quarterback Alex Smith leads the league in passer rating (108.7).
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WHAT TO WATCH FOR
One week after getting their running game going, the Giants won't have it easy against a Niners rush defense that's held opponents to 81 yards a game on the ground (3.24 yards per attempt) and has allowed only one 100-yard rusher (Marshawn Lyunch) in their last 43 games. The Niners defense will be frothing to go after Manning, who the stop unit sacked six times and nailed him on six other pass attempts back in January. Manning, though has been sacked just five times, enters the game second in passing yards and may get Hakeem Nicks back. Nicks flew to San Francisco questionable after missing the past three games with swelling in his left knee and pain in his right foot.
Whether or not the Giants will see old friend Brandon Jacobs make his 49ers debut, they will be charged with trying to halt a freight train. Frank Gore's 434 rushing yards and 5.5 yards per attempt is among the game's elite.
"Expect the unexpected. With this (offensive) line, there’s no telling what we can accomplish." -- Ahmad Bradshaw.
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