Having the New York Giants come into town was the one game the San Francisco 49ers would definitely have had circled on their calendar. After all, the 49ers beat the Giants in the regular season last year and then lost in overtime to the Giants in the NFC Championship game.
However, the Giants once again played spoiler, thoroughly dominating the 49ers in the air, on the ground, and on defense. The Giants played as complete of a game as possible behind a stubborn defense, Eli Manning, and some very nice catches by Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz.
Last year it was fumbles by Kyle Williams that killed the 49ers. This year it was Alex Smith’s interceptions. Smith, who had only 5 interceptions last season and came into today’s game with 1 all year threw three picks.
Prince Amukamara has continued to impress in his second season and is living up to the hype that caused the Giants to select him in the first round of last year’s draft. The Giants needed Amukamara to step and he has done so in a big way.
If the Giants get this kind of production out of Amukamara moving forward the Giants secondary will have turned from question mark into a strength.
However, the Giants were not without their warts in this game. Antrel Rolle picked off Alex Smith twice in the third quarter. His first interception gave the Giants offense superb field position at the 49ers 12-yardline. Sixteen seconds later the Giants had settled for a field goal to make it 20-3.
On the very next drive by the 49ers, Rolle again picked Smith off and again gave the Giants offense superior field position at the 49ers 5-yardline. One minute and thirty-three seconds elapsed before the Giants once again had to settle for a field goal.
It is true the Giants defeated the 49ers handedly but when you are given the ball on back to back possessions inside the opponents 20-yardline you have to at least walk away with a touchdown on one of those drives, especially when you have four shots at the end zone inside the five.
The Giants inability to score inside the red zone has not been a major issue because the Giants are 4-2 and sitting alone atop the NFC East. However, they will need to perform much better in this area if they want to continue to sit atop the division. There is just no excuse for not coming away with at least 10 points from those two turnovers.
This has been a problem all year long. If it weren’t for Andre Brown pushing the ball over the goal line against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 with only 31 seconds left in the game the Giants would have been 0-9 in terms of touchdowns inside the green zone as Tom Coughlin calls the red zone.
So far this season, Eli Manning owns only a 44.8 completion percentage inside the red zone, going 13-29 heading into today’s game. He does have 6 touchdowns now but the Giants can do a much better job inside the red zone. Even if it means Eli Manning being the same player inside the opponents twenty-yardline as he is outside of it.
While it was a great win today, the Giants still are far from perfect and need to button up their red zone offense in the coming weeks. If the Giants do figure it out and improve inside the red zone the Giants could very well be the best team in the NFL.