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Giants defeat 49ers, 26-3

A little past 4 p.m. here Sunday, fans in Candlestick Park loudly began chanting, "Let's go Giants."

They were not rooting for the local baseball team, which was about to play St. Louis in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

These were fans of the football Giants, proudly wearing their blue and white jerseys. By the end of the game, they were the only voices heard in the old stadium by the bay.

Of course, they had a lot to celebrate. The Giants continued to make themselves comfortable in other teams' homes as they pulverized the San Francisco 49ers, 26-3, in a mismatch rematch of the 2011 NFC Championship Game - won by the Giants on the same field.

Both teams are 4-2.

"I think this is our most complete game all year long against a very, very worthy opponent," said safety Antrel Rolle, who aided the cause with two third-quarter interceptions. "All three phases did an exceptional job - offense, defense and special teams."

"A very good football game for our team," coach Tom Coughlin said. "The players were very excited about playing this game. There wasn't any doubt about the way we went through our week of practice - there was great enthusiasm, great energy every day."

Particularly with the defense. The 49ers had won their last two games by a combined 79-3, gained a franchise-record 621 yards last week vs. Buffalo and led the league with 195.8 rushing yards per game. The Giants held them to a first-quarter David Akers field goal and 314 total yards - only 80 of them on the ground. After a week of answering questions about why they had just eight sacks in five games, the Giants appropriately sacked Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick a total of six times in their sixth game.

"The defense finally decided they were going to come out and play today and they did," Coughlin said.

"When he (Smith) threw the ball we had corners and safeties right on the guys the passes were intended for," said defensive end Justin Tuck. "We got pressure on him. Even when we didn't sack him we had guys in his face, which made it difficult for him to step up and throw the ball accurately.

"They want to run. They want to pound you, first and foremost. We took that away from them by getting up on them and getting a lead. They had to come from behind in the second half and that changed the dynamic of the football game. I feel it was a great team effort."

The offensive members of that team also had high praise for the defense.

"We were waiting for them to play like we know they can play," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We have great confidence in them. They played outstanding - flying around. When you see them play like that, holding them to field goal (attempts) early on when they weren't moving the ball, then we could be patient offensively."

The Giants scored on Manning's six-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz, Ahmad Bradshaw's one-yard run and Lawrence Tynes' field goals of 34, 30 yards and 22 yards. Tynes also had a field goal attempt blocked by Tarrell Brown.

Bradshaw rushed for 116 yards on 27 carries, while Cruz led the Giants with six catches for 58 yards. In the fourth quarter, the Giants had a 13-play drive executed entirely on the ground that took 7:10 off the clock.

"That was great - that's what you want to be able to do," said Manning, who was not sacked (after absorbing six sacks here in the title game). "That's when the offensive line just takes over the game. … That was the drive that ended the game."

"I think it was a statement game," Cruz said. "We made a statement that we came out here against a good team and had some good plays and won the football game. So the statement we made is that we're here to stay and we had some good drives and we have a very good offense."

Akers kicked a 42-yard field goal for the 49ers' only points. He also missed on tries of 43 and 52 yards.

David Wilson's long kickoff return and two Rolle interceptions helped the Giants open up a sizeable lead in the third quarter.

Wilson returned the second-half kickoff 66 yards to the Niners' 32-yard line. "That was a momentum-changing play," Coughlin said.

Bradshaw's 11-yard run gave the Giants a first-and-goal at the five. Bradshaw then ran the ball on three consecutive plays and on third down, powered over left guard for the touchdown that increased the Giants' lead to 17-3.

On the third play of the 49ers' next possession - a third-and-six from the 23 - Rolle made a dazzling one-handed grab of Alex Smith's overthrown pass for former Giant Mario Manningham. Rolle returned the ball 20 yards to the San Francisco 12-yard line.

"The first (pick) was just a cover three," Rolle said. "I was able to read the quarterback. Corey Webster did a great job undercutting the slant route. I was fortunate to hold onto it one-handed and make a play."

The Giants were stopped on three consecutive snaps and Tynes came on to kick his second field goal for a 17-point lead.

Three plays later, this time on third-and-15, Rolle again picked off a Smith pass, this one intended for Michael Crabtree. Rolle ran the ball 22 yards to the 49ers' five-yard line. But the Giants were again frustrated in the red zone and summoned Tynes, who made it 23-3 with 6:10 left in the quarter.

"On the second interception, Ahmad screamed at me from the sidelines, 'Trel, he's watching you,'" Rolle said. "I thought, 'Okay, if he's watching me, I'm going to (confuse) him a little bit. I went like I was playing the deep third (of the field) and I actually came down and played the hook. And he threw it right to me."

Tynes scored the game's final points after the time-consuming drive on the ground in the fourth quarter.

The Giants scored 10 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 10-3 halftime lead.

Immediately following a Steve Weatherford punt, Prince Amukamara intercepted an Alex Smith pass for Delanie Walker at the Giants' 33-yard line.

"That was the play that Vernon Davis (the Niners' starting tight end) scored on us last year," Rolle said. "He kind of beat the coverage. We got that play a couple of times throughout the week and the first time Prince ran with his number one receiver. I kid him a lot and I said, 'Prince, you didn't play any zone in college, did you?' I kept telling him, 'This is what's going to come, because they were successful with it last year.' I kept telling him that play was coming. And he played it to perfection. He played it better than anyone could have played it."

Domenik Hixon made two critical catches on the seven-play drive. He leaped high to haul in a Manning pass for a 39-yard gain and three players later, on third-and-eight, Hixon went low to snag a throw for a 16-yard pickup to the six-yard line.

On the next play, Cruz made a move on Carlos Rogers and caught Manning's pass in the back center of the end zone.

After the defense forced a 49ers punt, the Giants drove 51 yards in seven plays before Tynes kicked a 34-yard field goal. Cruz and Hakeem Nicks each caught 16-yard passes to open the drive.

Late in the half, the Giants had another scoring opportunity when Nicks made a splendid catch for a 26-yard gain on the left sideline and Hixon followed by going low for 14-yard pickup to the 20. A pass to Cruz picked up eight more yards, but Brown flew off the Giants' right side and blocked Tynes' 40-yard attempt with 11 seconds left in the half.

A 36-yard catch by Manningham set up Akers, but his 52-yard try flew wide left as time expired.

The Giants trailed, 3-0, at the end of a first quarter in which they owned the ball for only 3:36 and ran seven offensive plays.

San Francisco had two scoring chances in the quarter, but capitalized on only one of them, because Akers was wide right on a 43-yard field goal attempt at the end of the game's first series. After the Giants went three-and-out, the 49ers drove 61 yards in 11 plays before Akers kicked a 42-yard field goal for a 3-0 San Francisco lead.

The 49ers never scored again.

"We just played team defense," Tuck said. "We were able to get them out of their running game. After their second drive we shut down their running game. That allowed us to dial up some blitzes, dial up some pressure on Smith. Our secondary played well throughout the game. And the offense did a great job of moving the ball and keeping our defense fresh. It allowed us to play fast all game."

And play very well. Just ask the 49ers. And the Giants fans who enjoyed the party in an enemy stadium.


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