The sky in East Rutherford was falling after the Giants began 0-2 for the third consecutive season.
It wasn't just because of the losses. It was the way they lost them. For the team that had the word "FINISH" engraved inside its Super Bowl XLVI ring, the Giants gave up fourth-quarter leads as they fell to Dallas and Atlanta. But coming off two-straight wins to get back to even, Eli Manning conjured the magic again.
Down by four points with 1:41 to play and no Odell Beckham Jr. or Rueben Randle to begin the series, Manning led an eight-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Larry Donnell with 21 seconds left in the game. The 30-27 victory over the 49ers marked Manning's 32nd game-winning drive of his career.
Afterwards, the 12-year franchise quarterback was asked where it ranks, to which the two-time Super Bowl MVP quipped, "Well, there were a couple in the Super Bowl, obviously."
Added Manning: "This one was special just because we hadn't been as good in the two-minute drives as we once were and we should, come in there and had great confidence and we would ride down and win a lot of games that way."
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN:Manning, who went 5 of 8 for 66 yards on the final drive, hit Donnell in the end zone, and the tight end made a great catch to bring MetLife Stadium to a roar. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers took over with 17 seconds remaining at their own 22, where the Giants forced an incompletion and a sack to seal the victory.
GAME BALL: **As Manning said in his postgame press conference, it was just one of those days he felt good throwing the ball. And that was an understatement. The former No. 1 overall pick is at a point in his career where he hits a milestone almost every time he lines up under center. Here's a list of the accomplishments that Manning notched on Sunday night: franchise record completions (41), third-most passing yards of his career in a single game (441), passed Kerry Collins (40,922) for 12th all-time in career passing yards, and broke Phil Simms' franchise record with his 102nd victory.
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: The Giants wake up Monday morning on top of the NFC East through the first five weeks of the season. Dallas (loss to New England), Washington (loss to Atlanta) and Philadelphia (win over
New Orleans) are all 2-3. That makes next week's "Monday Night Football" game between the Giants and Eagles in Philadelphia even bigger. But first and foremost, the team's thoughts are with tight end Daniel Fells, who was placed on injured reserve after being hospitalized with a MRSA (staph) infection.
"We dedicated the game to Daniel Fells and his family and thank God we were able to give him the game ball," coach Tom Coughlin said at the beginning of his postgame press conference. "That was some football game tonight and to have a guy from his (position meeting) room go up there and make that catch at the end of the game was just incredible."
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE 49ERS:San Francisco fell to 1-4 under first-year head coach Jim Tomsula, who had been the team's defensive line coach since 2007. Tomsula, whose 49ers lost to Manning and the Giants in the 2011 NFC Championship Game, knew that it wasn't over on Sunday night when San Francisco took the lead on Carlos Hyde's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:45 to play. Tomsula was asked if he looked at the clock right after the score.
"Yes, sure did," he responded. "You give Eli time, so yeah."
On his message to the team, Tomsula said: "We've been through some ups and downs and some crazy stuff. We will stay together. There's a very good resolve in the locker room and a group of guys that are made of the right stuff. Let's grab that, hold it tight, and keep going through it."
Photos from the Giants Sunday matchup vs. 49ers