By Jon D. Gaede, BVN Staff –
SAN FRANCISCO - Just a month ago, the New York Giants were an aging 6-6 football team. Today, they are NFC Champions and headed back to the Superbowl.
The old, but iconic Candlestick Park had served the 49ers well this season, as the club posted an impressive 13-3 record against the league.
Under coach Jim Harbaugh, these 49ers have established a defensive reputation, worthy of respect. During the regular season, they held their opponents to a mere 14.3 points per game, second in the NFL.
It is safe to say that a solid defense may be a requirement to reach a Superbowl, however, don’t forget that some teams get healthy, gain momentum and peak in January. Unfortunately for San Francisco, that team is the New York Giants.
The stage at Candlestick was everything the 49ers would want. Windy, cold and wet. The 70,000 home team faithful had not hosted a playoff game since 2002. Quite a dry spell for one of the NFL’s storied franchises.
The roar of the crowd was constant, as fans waved white towels that read, “Rock the Stick”. They didn’t need to wait very long to cheer, as their phenomenal tight end, Vernon Davis caught an Alex Smith pass for 73-yards, at the seven minute mark for the games’ initial touchdown.
The Giants answered early into the 2nd quarter toss from Eli Manning to Bear Pascoe for a 7-7 tie. Ten minute later, after stalled 49er drives, the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes kicked the first of two 31 yard field goals, this one to put New York ahead 10-7 at the half.
The San Francisco defensive line found a way to hurry and eventually sack Eli Manning in the second half. At the 5:16 mark of the third quarter, a scrambling Alex Smith, once again found his go to tight end, Vernon Davis for 28 yards and a go ahead score, 14-10.
As the rain continued to fall and blow sideways over the gridiron, so did the 49ers. Punt returner Kyle Williams had two miscues on the day.
Influence by miserable weather, nevertheless, the mistakes put the Giants into scoring positions and they cashed in.
The national television audience was watching an NFL classic. Manning then hit Mario Manningham for a 16 yard score, putting the Giants ahead 17-14.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore was able to carve a few mud runs and helped set up 49er kicker David Akers for a 25 yard field goal that put the game into overtime 17-17.
After stopping the Giants and forcing them to punt, the NFC championship game would turn on one play. Filling in for the injured Ted Ginn Jr., 49er punt returner. Kyle Williams was stripped of the ball and recovered by New York.
Five plays later, a sure footed Lawrence Tynes, put the ball through the uprights and into the Superbowl. The resurgent 49ers have a long time to ponder what could have been. For New York, they crush San Francisco hearts and earn a rematch against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
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