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(Sunday, November 13th)
Final Score: San Francisco 27, NY Giants 20
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Defensive end Justin Smith batted down Eli Manning's fourth-down pass late in the fourth quarter to preserve the San Francisco 49ers' 27-20 victory over the New York Giants.
The Giants used a 32-yard Hakeem Nicks touchdown reception to get within seven, 27-20, midway through the final period. The visitors then forced the 49ers to punt before marching down the field. Faced with a 4th-and-2 from the 10 with 37 seconds to play, Smith put his arms up to knock down Manning's pass.
Alex Smith took a few kneel downs to seal San Francisco's seventh straight victory, the club's best run since it ripped off 11 straight victories during the 1997 season.
"We talked about it during the week, with (Troy) Aikman and (Joe) Buck doing the game and we want to keep climbing and be on that national stage," Smith said.
The 49ers (8-1) got the win despite running back Frank Gore having zero rushing yards on six carries. Gore came into the game with a franchise-record five straight 100-yard efforts on the ground, but was held out in the second half due to ankle and knee injuries.
Kendall Hunter carried the ball six times for 40 yards and a touchdown for the 49ers. Smith completed 19-of-30 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Manning connected on 26-of-40 passes for 311 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Giants (6-3), who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Manning engineered a fourth-quarter comeback in each of those contests.
Brandon Jacobs carried the ball 18 times for 55 yards. Starter Ahmad Bradshaw missed his second straight game with a foot injury.
Mario Manningham and Nicks were both questionable for the game with knee and hamstring injuries, respectively. Manningham caught six passes for 77 yards and a score, while Nicks hauled in two passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Down 13-12 late in the third quarter, the 49ers took over at midfield following a 29-yard punt from Steve Weatherford. A neutral zone infraction on third down gave San Francisco a fresh set of downs. Hunter's six-yard run put the ball at the 31. On the next play, Smith found a wide-open Vernon Davis. The tight end sprinted down the left sideline and leaped over safety Kenny Phillips for a score. Michael Crabtree caught the two-point conversion for a 20-13 lead with 13:22 to play.
Manning was then picked off by Carlos Rogers. On the next play, Hunter sprinted 17 yards into the end zone for a 27-13 margin with 12:21 remaining.
"The crossing pattern (Davis' TD) -- I'll have to look at that, but that was too easy," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "The run (Hunter's TD), the final touchdown, was too easy."
The Giants needed a big drive to stay in the game, and that's just what they got. Jake Ballard caught passes of 17 and 15 yards to move the ball to the San Francisco 36. On 3rd-and-6 from the 32, Manning threw a nice pass down the left sideline for Nicks. The wideout caught the ball and was tackled into the end zone, making it a 27-20 contest with 8:37 to go.
New York's defense then forced a three-and-out. A 56-yard punt and holding penalty pushed the Giants back to their own 20 with 6:35 left. Faced with a 4th-and-6 from the 35, Manningham came down with an 18-yard catch along the left sideline. Two plays later, Manning threw a bomb deep down the field. The ball hit off Manningham's outstretched fingers and fell to the ground. Victor Cruz came up with a 10-yard catch on 4th-and-5 for a fresh set of downs.
The Giants kept things going after the two-minute warning. D.J. Ware and Cruz caught passes of 10 and eight yards, respectively, to move the ball to the 10. New York gained no yards over the next two plays to set up 4th-and-2.
Lawrence Tynes and David Akers traded field goals in the first half. The Giants started the game with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Manningham and Jacobs helped New York move the ball to the San Francisco nine. Faced with a 3rd-and-6, Cruz only came up with a four-yard catch. Tynes made a 23-yarder to make it 3-0.
The 49ers responded with a 12-play, 62-yard march that took six minutes off the clock. Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn helped San Francisco get the ball to the New York 18. Akers was good from 36 yards out to make it 3-3.
The Giants countered with a 13-play, 73-yard drive. New York faced a trio of third downs on the march, but failed to convert the last. On 3rd-and-9 from the 10, Ballard caught a three-yard pass. Tynes made a 25-yard field goal to give the visitors a 6-3 edge with nine minutes left in the second quarter.
New York almost gave the ball right back to its offense. Cornerback Corey Webster intercepted Smith, but defensive end Osi Umenyiora was offsides on the play. The 49ers kept the ball and Crabtree caught a 21-yard pass. Crabtree was called for offensive pass interference later in the drive, setting up a 2nd- and-17 from the New York 47. Thus, San Francisco settled for a 52-yard Akers field goal to make it 6-6 with five minutes left.
On the ensuing kickoff, San Francisco surprised the Giants with an onside kick. The 49ers recovered the ball at the 47. Faced with 3rd-and-1, Delanie Walker caught an 18-yard pass over the middle. A sack led to a 39-yard Akers field goal with 1:49 remaining.
Manning was then intercepted by Rogers at his own 43. The 49ers got to the 24, but Smith was picked off by Webster.
The 49ers started the second half with a 10-play, 70-yard drive. The home team started the march with three straight plays of over 10 yards. A 19-yard Walker catch got the ball to the 10. Three incomplete passes by Smith set up Akers for a 28-yarder. The veteran was good for a 12-6 margin with 11:14 to go.
Following the first two punts of the game, New York took over at its own 16. On 3rd-and-7, Cruz caught a 36-yard pass along the left sideline. Jacobs ran for 15 yards and Bear Pascoe caught a 14-yard pass to put the ball at the 21. Faced with a 3rd-and-6 from the 13, Manning lofted a perfect pass into the right corner of the end zone for Manningham. The catch was made and both feet came down inbounds for a 13-12 lead with 2:25 remaining.
The all-time regular-season series is tied 14-14. The Giants had won the last three meetings...Cruz caught six passes for 84 yards...Akers is 5-for-5 on field goals from 50-plus yards this season.
11/13 21:38:54 ET