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Inside Candlestick Park last Sunday in the National Football Conference’s televised Wild-Card Weekend spotlight a miracle happened about the third quarter with just over four minutes left to play in that quarter. The vaunted New York Giants heavily favored to defeat our beloved San Francisco 49ers had utterly fulfilled that promise to all the critic’s and sports analysts around the country. They had indeed trounced on every fiber of our being by leading 38-14 in the third quarter.
The New York Giants under quarterback Kerry Collins had literally dissected the insides of the 49er secondary and quartered the 49er defensive line with excellent running from Tiki Barber for 115 total yards. Amani Toomer was like a superman on offense for the Giants making completion after completion at 49er cornerback Ahmed Plummer’s expense and ours. He had eight receptions for 136 total yards and converted three touchdowns, he averaged an amazing 17 total yards per reception.
New York Giant phantom of the opera tight end Jeremy Shockey delivered on his promise of being arrogant and cocky by splitting the middle of the 49er defense and catching seven receptions for 68 total yards and one touchdown. All Pro veteran linebacker Julian Peterson assigned to Shockey kept him in check most of the game with exceptions in terms of the touchdown and a long reception of 27 total yards.
Right from the beginning everyone witnessed a San Francisco welcoming when Jeff Garcia right from their opening offensive drive hooked up with 49er playmaker Terrell Owens for a 76-yard touchdown pass that sent the 49er stadium into hysteria. It sent me to my feet and arms stretched wide as I reveled in the bask of potential victory which would be very premature to my thinking.
The very heart and soul of the 49er organization would be rocked with thoughts of inevitability as the Giants scored one score right after another with Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey leading the charge. At halftime the mood in the stadium was dead silence and would continue until Terrell Owens came knocking again in the third.
But something happened in the locker room and on the sidelines in that halftime moment and right out on the sidelines. Players of rank and file began to scream for redemption and words of inspiration and healing were spoke as if there was still profound hope. Fans all along the rim of the stadium and sitting way up in the nosebleed sections began to stir and notice a presence in the air.
It was a presence that made every single person there sworn to uphold the San Francisco 49ers feel confident again and ignited a passion that started to be known as screaming and shouting words hallowed with victory still near. The players on the field began to feel and hear the war drums beating from all 49er fans that now was the time to fight anew.
And that is what the 49ers did, like the ghosts of 49er past were there to help lead Jeff Garcia on charge after charge, the deficit in scoring started to be trimmed like a barber trimming the hair of flower children in the 60’s and 70’s.
The New York Giants bewildered at the sudden surge from San Francisco could offer little to stop the wrath that was rained down on them. It was like the movie Apocalypse Now when the commanding officer would get up and say: "I like the smell of fresh napalm in the morning." Many bombs rained down on the Giant defense in that second half so many that we indeed came back after seeing the afterlife while on the operating table we resumed the lead by one single point on the scoreboard. It was that Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens connection that touched off the magic in Candlestick and it would be remembered for a long time to come.
Terrell Owens delivered a halftime speech to all his teammates after hearing of a newspaper story that referred to most of the playoff teams as contenders, but in turn labeled the 49ers "pretenders." He made that speech a motivational one as he injected that theme from that storyline right into the craniums of every player. Owens was in all seriousness displaying the attributes of a true leader; he had hid under the spotlight of Jerry Rice for many seasons. Now as if by some telepathy between the two has accepted those role and spoke volumes about winning not losing.
Right out on the sideline later, he spoke fluently with Jeff Garcia. "I said there’s going to be a point where they double-team me, and you have to give Tai and J.J. (Stokes) and Eric (Johnson) the opportunity to make plays," said Owens. Garcia taking all that advice in stride went out and knew that he was not giving Owens ample opportunities and concentrated on targeting him more often. The results were almost instantly translated in a scoring frenzy that would rock the foundation of the Giant secondary.
All along the offensive line they delivered a message to the New York Giant defensive line like "the buck stops here." They never allowed a sack on Garcia and both Michael Strahan and Kenny Holmes premier pass rushers were neutralized by a line still healing with injuries. Great credit must go to the line in establishing control at the line of scrimmage on all of their drives, it was because of this concentrated effort that Jeff was permitted the time to make sound quality plays.
But you also have to give credit to others as well not just Terrell Owens, and believe it or not he will now be the first one to tell you so. It was receptions critical ones at that from tight end Eric Johnson and wide receiver Tai Streets that helped propel the offense up and down the field.
But let me tell all of you and some of you already know this Terrell Owens is the leader of this offense, he defines it more and more every year. He was selfish and he was immature last year but he has suddenly transformed roles and embraces the fact that he is leading. Owens has gone to great lengths to redeem himself with others to meeting with Steve Mariucci and smoothing out differences to putting a ban on all media interviews with him. The reasons for the ban have been simple, to stop the twisting of his words and translating them into something negative that damages the reputation of the team. I salute Owens for making this stand and for being a motivational force on this team, God Bless him for doing this.
"What he had to say was great to hear," 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia said. "I think it is always great to see one of your star players or one of the players you depend on week in and week out, to step up and have some things to say to the team."
"He’s put some of the pressures he puts on himself aside and made himself more team-oriented," Garcia added. "He’s opened up to his teammates. His personality has come out and he’s been more expressive. Those are things that make him feel better about being apart of this team because I know in the past there have probably been issues on whether he wanted to continue to be here with the 49ers."
On the punt return duties Vinny Sutherland has earned the right to take Cedric Wilson’s position because of a costly muffed punt in the second quarter. The Giants recovered the punt that was muffed at the San Francisco eight-yard line and scored on the following play to take a 21-14 lead. Although it is unfortunate to see him move backwards I believe the benching in some ways will help remind him of the overall consequences especially being a playoff game where all is on the line.
Steve Mariucci in all aspects seems to be playing to win for his long awaited contract negotiations. The fact remains that a playoff win was huge in respects to his resigning with the team, I am confident in believing that winning this game benefited him in the eyes of ownership and management rather than being a detriment. I am still on record as being a Mariucci supporter, I do that because I believe he gives us the best chance to win and has provided consistency to the ranks of this team.
Being ultra-conservative has been the ugly label he has had to live with in so many a fans eye. He continues get barrages of anti-sentiment when it comes to this subject, the fact that he allowed the offense to open up in the third quarter brings this fact to the forefront. Why not do this all of the time? He defends his position that sometimes-different situations call for different methods or approaches and this was one that deemed it necessary. All I know is that the gloves came off in the second half and all the stops were ruled out as the 49ers came back from a 24-point deficit to win this game.
All I know is that Mariucci deserves a contract and I hope that is forthcoming right after the post-season. It would be iron-clad should he take us to a Super Bowl but regardless I see Mariucci as being the coach that eventually takes us there hands down. He gives this team the best shot because of his familiarity and ability to motivate his players and at the same time is an expression board for them. Every coach has their flaws and Mariucci does have his own, but when the rubber meets the road I could see no other I would want at this time other then Steve.
"If you got a coach who’s going into the tank, the whole team does," 49ers center Jeremy Nnewberry said. "Mariucci is a steady factor, has been all year. When we were down 24, nobody gave us a chance. But this guy kept his composure, and the team kept its composure."
"Critics are always going to be critics;" said 49ers tackle Derrick Deese. "This game shows what kind of team we have. As players, we know what kind of coach we have."
Whatever is said of this man it should be with honor and respect, anything other than that is meaningless in my book. I am all for firing up the offense and spreading the field with a more wide open passing attack, I am also for implementing more trick plays as Terrell Owens did in this playoff game. But I also know that Mariucci is only conservative when he believes he needs to be, and it gives us the best shot at winning.
Now to the blown call at the end of the game, the NFL has admitted that the officials in this game failed to call offsetting penalties at the end of this game after a botched snap for a field goal attempt by the Giants. As the snap was botched by Trey Junkin to Matt Allen, Allen was forced to lunge for the ball and then scramble out of the pocket as the final seconds ticked away.
Allen lobbed a pass towards the end zone near offensive lineman Rich Seubert but it hit the ground right before 49er defensive end Chike Okeafor pulled him down before the ball arrived. But flags were thrown and the officials ruled that the Giants had an ineligible man downfield when in reality he had indeed checked in as an eligible receiver. But lineman Tam Hopkins had not and he was close to the area where the ball fell signaling a call for ineligible man down the field if it had been correctly called. So the pass interference and the ineligible player down the field would have offset each other giving them another shot at the up-rights. But it never happened and the NFL recognized the mistake and offered apologies and explanations to both teams.
Bottom-line it was a mistake, but how many mistakes take place in any given game? Many by how many games I watched over the course of my years, and that number will always continue to be there. This is a game that is played and officiated by human beings and we all know that the human element makes mistakes, heck we all do on a regular basis that is life. It is unfortunate that it was a mistake and I can sympathize with the Giants only because I know what it’s like to lose a game being a 49er on bad calls.
But the facts speak for themselves that this game should have been won by the Giants long ago regardless of the blown call. They allowed our 49ers to surge and take control no one else was out there but them, crying about what has been will do no good as to what they could have done. The fact that there are blown calls is evident inside the NFL; there always will be some. The fact that it is magnified because it’s a playoff game only highlights the fact that nothing is perfect in our world.
Looking back before the game one of the injured players we all were hoping for to comeback and help our banged up secondary was safety Zack Bronson from a broken left foot earlier in the season. The broken foot had taken away one of our most feared players on defense and we never regained that fear while he was absent. He broke his foot on October 14th in a game against Seattle on artificial turf.
Bronson’s return to the free safety spot alleviates Tony Parrish as he has had to carry the burden of his duties ever since he left the field for 11 straight weeks. The defense wrecked by countless injuries especially at the safety position has struggled all season to find continuity and balance. Zack Bronson intends to bring that back despite the rust and managed to have six total tackles in this playoff game.
"That’s going to be a big step for us," Stubblefield said. "Not only are we getting his leadership, but pretty much we’re going to have a healthy defense out there, and that’s something we’ve struggled to maintain since Day One."
There is no question that the return of Zack Bronson has helped even though he made no game-breaking plays in this playoff game he still is shaking off and getting used to the rhythm of the game. I expect even greater contributions come the game against the Buccaneers, simply because of his major adjustments he has had to make since then.
"Zack is going to give us a tremendous boost," defensive coordinator Jim Mora said. "Emotionally, him being in the huddle is a big deal because of the way he’s able to plan and make adjustments and controls the secondary." "I think it’s really going to help Tony to have Zack back, because now some of the burden of making calls can go right back to Zack and Tony can just fly around."
What will be an important key this coming Sunday against the Buccaneers will be how Bronson plays because our defense will have to force some turnovers in order to win this game. Going up against the best defense in the NFL will be a tall task to ask of our offense, so it will be a combined effort from both units that will help ensure us a victory here. We will need Bronson to play at his collective best in this game in possibly making an interception or forcing a fumble; anything will be used as a positive in conjunction with his normal duties.
One of the things that can be said of our safety position has been the play of safety Tony Parrish whom has played in tremendous pain for much of the season. Parrish prides himself upon his record as not missing a start since the Chicago Bears in the second round out of the University of Washington drafted him in 1998. That’s over 80 games and counting my friends, a testament to his resiliency and determination to stay out on the field with his comrades.
When we thought there could not be anyone as special as Lance Schulters back in the off-season after his departure we found a gem in Tony Parrish who has been everything we thought he could be and delivered. He has played for over a month in a bulky brace on his right elbow. The brace is holding together an appendage that has a torn muscle, some torn cartilage, a torn bursa sac and two torn ligaments.
In other words this guy is some tough, in the mold of a Ronnie Lott in my opinion and then some. He makes the uniform proud to wear in my opinion, as San Francisco should be proud of such an athlete laying everything on the line for the community and the team over himself.
Through his perseverance and pain he has earned the teams two highest honors for his role first the Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to one player on each NFL team, then the Len Eshmont Award, given annually to the most inspirational and courageous player on the 49ers. I couldn’t say this better other than why in the heck didn’t he make the Pro Bowl? If there ever was a mistake in the voting style for this achievement this is definitely it folks, Parrish deserved to go hands down.
Wild-Card Playoffs San Francisco 49ers over the New York Giants 39-38
"As long as you live, you might never see a game better than that," said 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, whose job might have been saved. "It’s kind of hard to remember everything right now, but I remember how it ended."
"It’s one of those things where you’re in the park playing with buddies," said Garcia, who got his first playoff victory. "You try to emulate what the great ones do, what Joe Montana and Steve Young did. Now I’m that guy. Maybe some kid wants to be Jeff Garcia. That’s an awesome feeling."
"I asked everybody who could make plays," Owens said. "I told them I could. Other guys chimed in. They could. I said, 'We have a lot of weapons. We have to play with poise. Time is on our side."
The New York Giants won the toss and elected to receive, Jeff Chandler kicked the ball 65 total yards to D. Joyce who returned it 19 total yards to the New York 24-yard line. Kerry Collins began the drive with a pass to Tiki Barber for nine total yards and then he ran up the middle for four more yards and a first down. Collins then hit Jeremy Shockey for four total yards and Barber ran to the left for five more yards. On third-and-one Barber accomplished the first down with a run at the left guard again for three total yards and up the middle for one more yard.
Kerry Collins then hit Barber for 11 total yards and another Giant first down; he then hit Amani Toomer for six more yards. Now at the 49er 33-yard line Collins dropped back and threw to Ron Dayne but the pass was intercepted by linebacker Julian Peterson and downed at the San Francisco 24-yard line. It was an exciting moment to have the interception on the opening drive by the Giants; it sent a chill to all Giant fans that the game was not going to be easy at least at that time.
On first-and-ten Jeff Garcia came out and hit none other than Terrell Owens who side-stepped tackles all the way into the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown, Jeff Chandlers extra point was good and on just one play following the interception had the lead.
San Francisco 49er fans had something to cheer about at Candlestick and the applause was contagious. Having taken the lead up 7-0 was a highlight we all hoped would be added to later in the game, but the Giants had other intentions.
Jeff Chandler then kicked the ball 64 total yards to Daryl Jones who had a nice return of 30 total yards to the New York 36-yard line. Here Barber hit the left end for four total yards and Collins found Shockey for 13 more yards. With a first down Collins hit C. Stackhouse for five total yards and Barber was then stuffed for no gain on the left end.
On third-and-five Collins tried to connect with Shockey but failed forcing Matt Allen to punt the ball 32 total yards to a fair catch by Cedric Wilson at the 49er 10-yard line.
Jeff Garcia began the drive with a pass to tight end Eric Johnson for five total yards and Kevan Barlow ran to the left end for six more yards. With a first down Barlow ran at the right guard for three total yards and then Garcia failed to connect with Garrison Hearst.
A penalty fell on Terrell Owens for a false start and so Jeff out of the shotgun found Fred Beasley for five total yards but failed to get a first down. Billy La Fleur then punted 48 total yards to D. Joyce who returned it seven total yards to the New York 35-yard line.
Tiki Barber began the drive with a run to the right for two total yards but a penalty fell on San Francisco for a facemask for 15 total yards. Collins with a first down hit Shockey for six total yards and Barber tried the middle for two more yards. On third down Barber hit the left end for four total yards and a first down but Collins failed to connect with Shockey.
With a second down Collins dropped back and nailed Amani Toomer for an 18 total yard reception off Ahmed Plummer, Barber followed with a one-yard run. Collins again tried Shockey but failed to do so and then out of the shotgun hit Ron Dixon for 10 total yards.
A penalty fell on New York for a false start and Collins then tried Toomer twice once for nothing but on the second try a 12-yard touchdown pass. Matt Bryant’s extra point was good so after 11 plays and 65 total yards and one penalty the Giants converted by way of Toomer to tie the score 7-7.
Bryant then kicked the ball 63 total yards to Vinny Sutherland who returned it 21 total yards the San Francisco 28-yard line. Here Jeff Garcia goes to work trying to hit Tai Streets but failed and Hearst ran for two total yards on the right side. Now into the second quarter Jeff on third-and-eight tried to connect with J.J. Stokes to no avail. This LaFleur was forced to punt 46 total yards to D. Joyce who returned the ball 15 total yards to the New York 39-yard line.
Tiki Barber hit the left side for a huge gain of 29 total yards and again on the left for four more yards. This really made you wonder what had happened to our run defense, Barber was establishing a clear rhythm here and we were hard pressed to stop him. Kerry Collins then hit Jeremy Shockey for 27 total yards getting all the way down to the 49er 1-yard line. Barber then attempted entry but was thrown back for a loss but Shockey was there on the next play for a two-yard touchdown. The extra point was good after five plays and 61 total yards the New York Giants established a lead 14-7. Matt Bryant then kicked the ball 57 total yards to Paul Smith who returned the ball 18 total yards to the 49er 31-yard line.
Both offenses at this point were offering a mixture of run and pass up to this point, but our running game seemed to be running out of gas with the play-calling going more pass then run. Barlow started the drive with a run to the left for two total yards and then Garcia found Owens for 10 total yards and a first down. Jeff on the next play took off himself and ran to the left for 11 total yards but then failed to connect with Johnson.
Garrison Hearst tried the middle for four total yards and then Jeff took off again for 10 more yards to the right side.
Now having a first down San Francisco adopted a trick play at the New York 32-yard line. Terrell Owens was handed the ball behind the line of scrimmage and throws the ball to Tai Streets for 25 total yards. This was a fantastic play and a great icebreaker for us having been a success, it proved that Mariucci and the coaching staff isn’t dead as many proclaim it to be.
Jeff on the Giant seven-yard line ran to the right for six total yards and Fred Beasley was stuffed, as was Barlow for no gain or entry. But the run by Barlow was thought to be a touchdown as I watched it and saw the ball break the plain. San Francisco challenged the ruling and won on that challenge signaling a touchdown. Jeff Chandlers extra point was good so after 10 plays and 69 total yards San Francisco came back and tied the score 14-14.
Jeff Chandler then kicked the ball 63 total yards to D. Joyce who returned the ball 23 total yards to the Giant 30-yard line where Collins took over hitting Stackhouse for six total yards and Barber gaining three more yards on the left side. A timeout was then called by New York and after that Barber ran to the left for three total yards and then Julian Peterson for a loss of nine total yards suddenly sacked Collins.
This brought up a second and long where Barber ran up the middle for two total yards and then Collins failed to connect with Daryl Jones. Matt Allen then punted the ball 49 total yards to Cedric Wilson but Wilson muffs the punt and is recovered by New York at the San Francisco eight-yard line. This was yet another devastating mistake by our special teams unit and Wilson.
Right on their first play Kerry Collins made us pay for the muffed punt by hitting Toomer for an eight-yard touchdown. The Giants by virtue of the turnover took the lead 21-14 Giants. Bryant then kicked the ball 63 total yards to Sutherland who returned it 19 total yards to the San Francisco 26-yard line. Jeff Garcia then hit Terrell Owens for 15 total yards and then failed to find Hearst. On second down Hearst hit the right end but was driven back for minus one total yard, then the two-minute warning sounded. On third down Jeff went to the shotgun and threw to J.J. Stokes but Jason Sehorn intercepted the pass at the New York 44-yard line.
Already costly mistakes had worked their way into our rhythm as first we had a Wilson muffed punt now a interception, Collins went right to work hitting Barber for eight total yards and Toomer for 16 more yards. A penalty fell on New York though for offensive holding but Collins went back and hit Barber for four total yards and out of the shotgun he found Barber for 30 more yards. A timeout by New York was called at this time to evaluate, as the Giant passing game was literally tearing up the 49er secondary or should I say scorching it. Collins upon returning tried to connect with Campbell but failed but then he hit Toomer for a 24-yard touchdown and the extra point was good. So on five plays and 56 total yards the New York Giants extended their lead 28-14 over the 49ers.
Bryant kicked the ball 44 total yards to Paul Smith who returned it 18 total yards but time expired and the half was over. San Francisco had their stomach’s turning as they left the field and looked up at the scoreboard after all it said it all bright and clear. The atmosphere in the stadium was muffled and frustrated at what had happened to their defense and mistakes on both the special teams and offense.
Giant running back Tiki Barber had already achieved 16 carries for 66 total yards and Amani Toomer the Giant’s big playmaker had 68 total yards and three touchdowns on poor coverage from 49er cornerback Ahmed Plummer. In a world that all thought Mike Rumph would be the picked on corner due to Jason Webster’s injury Plummer was scorched time and time again.
Kerry Collins had established dominance by going 18-for-25 for 203 total yards and four touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 118.8% this was truly amazing. Jeff Garcia on the other hand struggled going 5-for-11 for 111 total yards and one touchdown with a quarterback rating of 74.4%. The running game combined for San Francisco was almost nonexistent with a total of 44 total yards but Terrell Owens had 101 total yards and a touchdown to show some success.
The New York Giants had a 71% third down efficiency compared to 40% for San Francisco. Time of possession told the larger story with the Giants controlling the ball for 19:08 to San Francisco’s 10:52, the very reason for the lopsided score. Players and fans felt a desperation starting to settle in as the half ended, conversations among the fans both inside the stadium and in front of television sets erupted with Why?
With the start of the third quarter San Francisco elected to receive so Bryant kicked the ball 58 total yards to Vinny Sutherland who returned it 18 total yards to San Francisco’s 30-yard line. Jeff Garcia hit Eric Johnson for nine total yards and Hearst hit the middle for six more yards. A first down completed Jeff finding no one took off to the left for seven total yards and Hearst was stopped toward the right side for just one total yard.
On third-and-two Jeff hit Owens but he was blanketed and pushed out of bounds for one total yard, the 49ers decided to go for it on fourth-and-one deciding to try Fred Beasley up the middle but he was stuffed for no gain. This play call baffled me as to why would you send someone up the gut knowing that the running game had done absolutely nothing?
New York took over on downs at their 46-yard line with Collins failing to find Shockey and Barber breaking a big one on the left side for 23 total yards on two consecutive plays. With a first down Collins hit Toomer for 17 total yards and Barber hit the right side for eight more yards. On the San Francisco eight-yard line Barber ran to the right for a touchdown and Bryant’s extra point was good. So on six plays and 54 total yards the Giants took a commanding lead of 35-14 and left fans gasping in the stands.
Bryant kicked the ball 62 total yards to Sutherland who returned the ball 20 total yards to the San Francisco 28-yard line. Jeff again went to work expressionless over what had happened as he connected with Hearst for three total yards but then failed to find Barlow. On third-and-seven Jeff failed to connect with Johnson forcing LaFleur to punt 46 total yards to D. Joyce who returned it 11 total yards to the Giant 34-yard line.
Full of confidence New York came out with Ron Dayne up the middle for one total yard and Collins hitting Dixon for 11 total yards. With a first down Dayne ran up the middle again for three total yards and Collins hit Dixon again for two more yards. On third-and-five Collins hit Toomer with a breakout gain of 46 total yards and at the 49er three-yard line.
Dayne was stuffed on the next play and Collins failed to find Shockey on the next two consecutive plays forcing the Giants to kick a field goal of 21 total yards that was good. So on nine plays and 63 total yards the Giant offense struck again extended their lead to 38-14. This was the lowest moment for the 49ers; in fact many fans got up and walked away feeling there was no hope. But many faithful fans stuck with it and believed that all things are still possible.
Bryant kicked the ball 57 total yards to Sutherland who returned the ball 17 total yards to the San Francisco 30-yard line. Jeff Garcia seemed concentrated and focused as he took the field, a sense of urgency was seen in his expressions and movements. He hit Johnson for 12 total yards and Tai Streets for 11 more yards. With a first down Hearst tried the middle for three total yards and Jeff found Owens for 12 more yards.
Jeff on another first down hit Johnson for six total yards and then failed to connect with Tai Streets. On third-and-four at the Giants 26-yard line Garcia dropped back and hit Owens for a 26-yard touchdown and then hit Owens again as the 49ers converted a two-point conversion. A penalty fell on the Giants for roughing the passer and would be enforce between downs. But after seven plays and 70 total yards the 49ers came back to make the score 38-22 Giants.
Jeff Chandler then kicked the ball 60 total yards to D. Joyce who downed it in the end zone for a touchback. Barber came out to the left but was thrown back for a loss of one total yard and Collins failed to find Shockey. Here was a turnaround in the play of the 49er defense, they began to get more physical and focused. On third-and-11 Collins was sacked by John Engelberger for a loss of six total yards so Matt Allen punted 29 total yards to a fair catch called by Sutherland as the 49ers took over at the Giant 27-yard line. They did so because of a penalty on New York for unnecessary roughness that penalized them for 15 total yards. Garcia then hit Beasley for three total yards and Jeff hit J.J. Stokes for 10 more yards as the third quarter expired. On the New York 14-yard line Jeff Garcia seeing no one open took off and ran it in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. The 49ers attempted a two-point conversion hitting Owens to be successful and so after three plays and 27 total yards the 49ers cut the lead to 38-30 Giants. Now the crowd began to stir and scream confidence down to the player on the sideline, momentum was suddenly shifting like never before.
On the Giant possession Barber hit the middle but was thrown back for a loss and Collins hot Campbell for three total yards. On third-and-eight out of the shotgun Collins failed to find Dixon and Allen had to punt 46 total yards to Sutherland that signaled a fair catch at the San Francisco 18-yard line.
Jeff Garcia went back to work behind a rejuvenated offensive line as he hit Johnson for five total yards and Owens for 21 more yards. Jeff with a first down failed to find Stokes but then hit Cedric Wilson for 18 total yards. Jeff again tried Stokes but could not find a connection as usual but found Johnson for nine more yards. On third-and-one Jeff tried to run up the middle but was stuffed so the 49ers called a timeout. Following that Jeff dropped back and found Tai Streets for four total yards and a first down and hit him again for five more yards. On second down he failed to connect with Owens but hit him on the second try for nine more yards.
With a new first down Jeff failed to connect with Owens again and Fred Beasley hit the middle for three more yards. On third-and-seven Jeff failed to find Stokes forcing the 49ers to attempt a field goal from 25 total yards out that Chandler connected with. So after 15 plays and 74 total yards the 49ers cut the lead to 38-33 Giants. Chandler then kicked the ball 50 total yards to D. Joyce who returned it 16 total yards to the Giant 36-yard line.
Kerry Collins hit Shockey for seven total yards and Barber ran to the left for four more yards. With a first down Collins hit Campbell for 10 total yards and Barber ran up the gut for 10 more yards. On a news set of downs Barber tried the gut but was thrown for a loss of one total yard and Collins then hit Shockey for nine total yards. On third-and-two Barber ran to the right for just one total yard forcing Bryant to attempt a 42-yard field goal that failed going wide left.
San Francisco again was sailing on a new ocean of confidence as we took command on our own 32-yard line. Jeff hit Stokes for four total yards and then failed to find Tai Streets. On third-and-six he found Owens for seven total yards and a first down and the two-minute warning sounded. Here is where the 49ers knew they had to score and Jeff failed to find Tai Streets on the next play but hit Johnson for seven total yards.
On third-and-three Jeff hit Johnson again for 25 total yards and then ran himself to the left for 12 more yards. San Francisco then called a timeout and afterwards Garcia failed to find Stokes. With a second down on the Giant 13-yard line Jeff dropped back and found Tai Streets for a 13-yard touchdown. A penalty came down on Owens for un-sportsmanlike conduct following a fight that took place and one on New York for the same thing, making them to off-set each other
A two point conversion then took place but failed due to an interception by the Giants in the end zone a fight broke out between Giant safety Shaun Williams and Terrell Owens causing Williams to be thrown out of the game and penalties off-setting again. So after nine plays and 68 total yards the San Francisco 49ers finally took the lead 39-38 49ers. Chandler then kicked the ball 54 total yards to D. Joyce who returned it 32 total yards to the Giant 48-yard line in a big play for great field position.
Kerry Collins hit Ron Dixon for 10 total yards and then failed to find Toomer. A penalty fell on New York for delay of game so out of the shotgun Collins hit Dixon for 19 total yards and then New York called a timeout. Now on the San Francisco 28-yard line Collins out of the shotgun failed to find Toomer but got him the second time for five total yards. A timeout by San Francisco was then called and afterwards New York set up field goal attempt but on the snap it was botched causing Allen to scramble with the ball and throw a pass to Rich Seubert that fell short as Seubert was dragged down by Chike Okeafor.
The ruling on the field ineligible man downfield that was declined and the San Francisco 49ers had defeated the New York Giants in stunning come from behind turnaround from a 24-point deficit. The ruling on the field after the game was seen as being incorrect as different scenario’s took place that would have determined two penalties to off-set each other and permit the Giants to kick again.
But that is all water under the bridge at this point, the officiating was wrong but it ended in us being the ones to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. In my opinion it was the New York Giants that let this game go to begin with, suddenly in the midst of the third quarter they crumbled away gradually allowing for great opportunity to arise with us on top.
Jeff Garcia finished the game by going 27-for-44 for 331 total yards and three touchdowns and one interception. He achieved a quarterback rating of 97.8% while Kerry Collins went 29-for-43 for 342 total yards and four touchdowns and one interception. He had a quarterback rating still of 112.7%.
In rushing it was all Tiki Barber as he had 26 carries for 115 total yards and one touchdown compared to Garrison Hearst who had six carries for just 15 total yards even below Jeff Garcia’s running for 60 total yards and one touchdown. So our running game was a pure non-factor in this game.
It all came back on the passing game as Terrell Owens had nine receptions for 177 total yards and two touchdowns and Eric Johnson had eight carries for 78 total yards. Tai Streets also played a critical role in his last touchdown and giving us the lead with five carries for 58 total yards and J.J. Stokes being a real non-factor with only two receptions.
With New York it was all Amani Toomer with eight receptions for 136 total yards and three touchdowns and Jeremy Shockey with seven receptions for 68 total yards and one touchdown.
Third down efficiency balanced out at the end with each team turning 46% of them, on defense there were no real bright stars as our secondary was scorched most of the day to 327 total passing yards by the Giants. Both Julian Peterson and John Engelberger registered sacks though and Derek Smith had a productive day with 10 total tackles with two being assisted. Julian Peterson was also a huge factor in shutting down Jeremy Shockey and limiting him to marginal success.
Now is the time to be thinking Tampa Bay a scary prospect isn’t it? Can we go there and win? I believe we can do anything after seeing this wild game and knowing that the will of this team is all great heart and soul. They will need all of that though to conquer the best defense in the NFL. Again we are underdogs in this contest, but with the right mentality and to play more physical and execute a sound running game in order to form ball control we can defeat the Buccaneers.
We have to pull out all the stops and loosen the reins on the both the offense and defense and depend on our players to make big plays. This game will come down to big plays and turnovers, but most of all it will come down to time of possession against a defense that tends to wear you down by getting your offense off the field in a hurry. Our offensive line will be in the spotlight big time. God Bless our 49ers and let’s go get it done.