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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants' win over 49ers

In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, we give our takeaways from the Giants’ Monday night victory over the 49ers:

JOHN SCHMEELK: The reason the Giants won this week is simple: two takeaways. San Francisco outgained the Giants by nearly 100 yards, 374-277. The 49ers punted three times to the Giants’ five. The 49ers were better on third down: 8-13 vs. 5-12. The one number that ended up mattering was +2: two takeaways for the Giants versus zero for the 49ers. In a close game like the Giants played on Monday night, those plays can make all the difference.

B.J. Goodson’s first interception, which he was able to grab thanks to a Janoris Jenkins’ deflection, gave the Giants the ball on the 49ers 12-yard line. Three plays later, Odell Beckham Jr. was in the end zone. Goodson’s second interception came at the start of the fourth quarter. The 49ers were at midfield when quarterback Nick Mullens threw behind Marquise Goodwin, who re-directed the ball right to Goodson. It prevented a potential 49ers scoring drive that could have made it a two-score game. It should surprise no one that in both Giants wins this season they finished on the plus side in the turnover ratio. Against the Texans in Week 3, the Giants were also plus-2 after picking off Deshaun Watson and forcing a Lamar Miller fumble. The Giants did not turn the ball over against either the 49ers or the Texans.

At 2-7, the Giants are playing with a slim margin of error and it will be very difficult overcoming turnovers moving forward. Protecting the football and taking it away on defense could very well be the difference-maker for the rest of the season.

DAN SALOMONE: The Giants are undefeated in their new eight-game season, but even if they go 8-0 the rest of the way, it will only amplify what could have been if not for the 1-7 start. From coach Pat Shurmur to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the team has embraced this notion of a season within the season. The bye week fell directly at the midpoint of schedule, and the Giants came out of the break with a primetime win on the road, highlighted by a vintage game-winning drive from Eli Manning. The offensive line held up, the defense made stops when it absolutely needed to, Beckham caught two touchdowns, and Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram made key plays – just like how it’s supposed to be.

“Take me home, 10” is what Beckham always tells Manning, and for the 41st time of his career (including five times in the postseason), the franchise quarterback rallied the team with a game-winning drive. Heading into the bye week, Manning admitted in a radio interview that “you don't know how many more opportunities you have” when you’re a 37-year-old quarterback and the team is losing.

“After we went and scored, I came back to the sideline and said to him, ‘Man, you’ve been doing this since I was like 12,’” the 21-year-old Barkley said about being a part of his first game-winning drive with Manning. “That’s Eli. When he’s in one of those moments, he’s a heck of a player. You know why when you’re around him. When you’re young and you’re watching him on the television, you’re like, ‘Oh wow.’ It’s his craft that he works on. He’s such a smart player and such a hard worker. When he’s in those positions, he just thrives.”

LANCE MEDOW: Football is won and lost in the trenches. Thanks to a strong showing from the offensive line in pass protection on Monday night, Eli Manning was sacked just one time (in the second half) and took three quarterback hits overall. That’s quite a turnaround considering Manning was sacked 31 times in the first eight games (at least twice in seven of those eight contests). It’s no coincidence that when you give your quarterback time to survey the field and throw the ball, good things can happen. Recently acquired Jamon Brown was inserted into the starting lineup at right guard and clearly made an immediate impact. On Manning’s first touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr., Brown cleaned up the pocket by pushing off 49ers defensive tackle Sheldon Day to right tackle Chad Wheeler and then hustling to pick up defensive end Cassius Marsh. That clearly bought more time for Manning, who took advantage by riding the pocket.

On the flip side, the Giants are still looking to create a more consistent pass rush. Entering Week 10, the 49ers had surrendered 31 sacks, but the Giants came up empty in that department, allowing Nick Mullens to have plenty of time to survey the field. That, combined with the presence of a consistent run game, were two reasons why San Francisco was an impressive 8-for-13 (62%) on third down. The Giants were able to bring a lot of pressure on the final drive of the game, and that was a big difference-maker in sealing the victory.

Special teams can be a huge X-factor or a facet of the team that comes back to haunt you. On Monday night, I would say that group fell somewhere in between. Corey Coleman shined as a kickoff returner, but two of his noticeable returns were wiped out by holding penalties and Aldrick Rosas’ opening kickoff in the second half landed out of bounds, handing the 49ers great field position. Thanks to that gift, San Francisco ultimately scored a touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter. Was it a perfect performance all around? No, but for the first time this season, the Giants overcame some of their miscues and found ways to finish drives with touchdowns and close out a game with help from both the offense and defense. That’s encouraging as they look to gain some momentum down the stretch.

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