SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Though Jeremy Shockey and Michael Strahan
had miserable memories of Candlestick Park, Eli Manning was still
in college when the New York Giants' last trip to the playoffs
ended here in a historic collapse.
The young quarterback thought the old building was an excellent
place to get his first true road victory.
Manning passed for 251 yards and a touchdown, Brandon Jacobs
rushed for two short fourth-quarter scores and the Giants' defense
yielded just 138 total yards in a 24-6 victory over the San
Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Plaxico Burress had five catches for 79 yards in the third
straight victory for the Giants (6-2), who maintained their lead in
the NFC East by suffocating the 49ers' offense, which hasn't scored
a touchdown in its last 13 quarters at home.
The Giants' offense also floundered for long stretches against
San Francisco's solid defense, but a handful of big throws by
Manning led to scores.
"We just had to get the ball in our receivers' hands and let
them be the athletes," said Manning, who had been 0-5 in games
outside Giants Stadium; New York beat New Orleans at the
Meadowlands in Week 2, technically a Saints home game after
Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome. "We had to figure out a
way not to hurt ourselves, and mostly we avoided that. We had too
many mistakes, but they didn't end up hurting us."
That wasn't always the case in San Francisco. Just 11 Giants are
left from one of the club's most infamous postseason defeats: On
Jan. 5, 2003, New York allowed San Francisco to rally from a
24-point deficit in the second half of a 39-38 wild-card victory.
It was the second-biggest collapse in NFL playoff history, and
New York hasn't been back to the postseason or Candlestick since.
But while the 49ers are 10-31 since that win, the Giants have
rebuilt themselves into a postseason contender behind Manning, who
was 18-of-33 and threw a TD pass in his ninth straight game.
Shockey, who dropped a pass in the end zone during the second
half of that playoff loss in San Francisco, stretched full-length
to catch a 32-yard scoring pass 13 seconds before halftime.
"It was wide open, and there was no one there," Shockey said
of his TD catch -- not the ball he dropped two seasons ago. "I have
never seen that look in my whole career, and I probably will never
see it again. It was a completely busted coverage."
Burress made a stunning one-handed, 50-yard catch on the final
play of the third quarter, and Jacobs rushed for a 1-yard score
moments later. Amani Toomer then made a 23-yard catch near the goal
line, setting up another 1-yard TD run.
Cody Pickett, the 49ers' fourth starting quarterback in five
games, made few mistakes in his first start. But he couldn't spark
anything behind San Francisco's comically inept offensive line,
which committed several penalties and rarely allowed Pickett a
"Cody did a great job with the plays, but it's tough getting
the timing down when you don't have the same quarterback in
practice every week," receiver Brandon Lloyd said of Pickett, who
went 12-of-21 for 102 yards.
"(Pickett) didn't cause any problems for us," Strahan said.
"It seemed like every time he dropped back, we were successful in
putting some pressure on him and hitting him."
Joe Nedney kicked two field goals for the Niners (2-6), who lost
for the sixth time in seven games.
The 49ers' offense briefly got going late in the first half,
with Pickett scrambling for two first downs before Lloyd took the
crowd's breath away with a one-handed, behind-the-head catch inside
the New York 5.
Manning quickly hit Shockey twice for the Giants' first TD.
"It is a lack of focus and concentration," 49ers coach Mike
Nolan said of the penalties. "Emotion is a huge part of the game,
and you can't let emotions get the better of you. There's not a
tremendous amount of noise at home. Today, (false starts are)
San Francisco scored on Nedney's 48-yard field goal early in the
second half, ending nearly 108 scoreless minutes for the Giants'
defense, which shut out Washington last week. Nedney hit a
52-yarder several minutes later.
San Francisco got four of its nine first downs on
penalties. ... Back judge Don Dorkowski injured his calf during the
second half, and the game was finished with six officials. ... The
Niners had just 10 men on the field for the game's first play -- a
28-yard catch by Shockey.
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