Okay, so it's not mixed martial arts, but if there's one thing MMA Maniacs love to discuss as much as their beloved sport, it's definitely the NFL playoffs.
Today's (Sun., Jan. 22, 2012) late game features the New York Giants traveling to the Bay Area to take on the surprising San Francisco 49ers. These teams played each other earlier this year, also at Candlestick Park, and the Niners escaped with a hard fought 27-20 victory. Not much has changed since then, really, other than New York having taken out the best team in the league throughout the season, the Green Bay Packers.
The better quarterback is likely going to win this game. Alex Smith played outstanding last week against the New Orleans Saints, out-dueling Drew Brees en route to a 36-32 victory in the waning moments of the game. He'll have to be just as good to knock off the Giants, who boast a much better defense and a far superior pass rush. For his part, Eli Manning has been lights out, and if he plays anything like he did against the Packers, the 49ers could be in for a long day.
This one is going to be a whole lot of fun. The winner advances to the Super Bowl to take on the New England Patriots, who won a thriller of a game earlier today, defeating the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 to book their trip to Indianapolis.
So here it is, Maniacs; an open thread and discussion to keep your fellow gridiron guys and gals abreast of the Giants vs. 49ers score, as well as a sounding board for any and all football trash talk. Pics, videos, links -- it's all fair game today.
Score updates as they happen after the jump.
NEW YORK GIANTS VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
49ers-7, Giants-0: The game opened with both teams picking up a first down here and there but ultimately punting back to each other. That was before the Niners took over and caught the Giants in a zone look with Vernon Davis streaking up the sidelines damn near by himself. Alex Smith laid a perfect throw on him and his speed allowed him to take it the distance for the first touchdown of the game. There was some doubt regarding whether or not Davis had his feet in bounds the whole way but there was not enough evidence to overturn it. The play stood as a 73-yard score and the 49ers strike first just like last week.
The opening quarter came to a close with neither team having done much of anything. The Giants were putting together a nice drive but they were stuffed on 4th and 1 and turned it over on downs. San Francisco nearly gave the ball back on a trick play gone bad but got a lucky bounce and maintained possession. On the New York side, Hakeem Nick injured his shoulder but he has returned to the game after a short trip to the locker room. No word on his health going forward.
END OF FIRST QUARTER
49ers-7, Giants-7: New York did its thing via the usual methods. Eli Manning found Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on key downs to move the chains and eventually they set up a second and goal that resulted in a touchdown from Manning to the rarely used Bear Pascoe to tie the game. The 49ers have to be better on third down or they're going to get eaten alive. I know they kept up with New Orleans in a shootout last week but they simply aren't built to do that two weeks in a row.
Giants-10, 49ers-7: San Francisco attempted to run the clock out to get to halftime but the Giants got the ball back and put together a 10 play, 51-yard drive that culminated in a 31-yard field goal from Lawrence Tynes to give New York the lead at the break. They'll also get the rock to start the third quarter. The big issue in this game is the 49ers utter and complete failure to adequately address Victor Cruz. After just two quarters, he has eight catches for 125 yards. That's completely unacceptable and will ultimately lead to their downfall if they don't find someone to cover him. Carlos Rogers is getting abused right now and they need to figure this out and fast.
END OF SECOND QUARTER
49ers-14, Giants-10: Once again, Vernon Davis does his thing and finds a soft spot in the zone and Alex Smith delivers a perfectly thrown ball for the touchdown. Kyle Williams gave the Niners a short field and three plays later they had gone 54 yards and Davis had caught his fourth touchdown of the postseason. He's been virtually unstoppable. Let's see if the Giants can string together a drive that results in some points scored. They've been doing what the Patriots did earlier today. Moving the ball, picking up yards, not scoring enough points. New England eventually did enough to win the game. Will New York do the same?
The third quarter came to a close with the 49ers in control thanks to an Eli Manning feeling the pressure and nearly throwing an interception. As it were, the Giants punted and the Niners have kick-started their next drive with a couple of first downs early. To add insult to injury, Chris Canty of New York was flagged for unnecessary roughness to give San Francisco an extra 15 yards to work with. Time to get into the home stretch and see whose got it in them.
END OF THIRD QUARTER
Giants-17, 49ers-14: Thanks to Kyle Williams making the most bone-headed play of the postseason, the Giants were able to take a late lead in this close game where points are at a premium. I cannot even fathom how stupid you have to be to do what Kyle Williams did, but he did it. Instead of letting a punted ball bounce away from him, he got really close to it and then at the last minute tried to jump out of the way. This lead to the ball bouncing off his knee and Devin Thomas of New York recovering to give the Giants great field position deep in San Francisco territory. Unbelievable. The Giants made the most of their good luck by converting a 3rd and 15 into a touchdown from Manning to Mario Manningham, who made his first catch of the game a big one. It's a three point game with just 8:34 to play.
Giants-17, 49ers-17: Kyle Williams redeemed himself (kind of) by returning the next kickoff 40 yards to set the Niners up in solid position. Alex Smith used his legs to pick up the next first down and they were able to get the ball as far up as the seven yard line before stalling out. David Akers came out and knocked in a 25-yard field goal to tie the game with just 5:39 to go. Your move, Eli.
The fourth quarter comes to a close with neither team able to score. We're headed for overtime after a thrilling game that has featured some seriously solid defense on both sides. Overtime rules are different in the playoffs. If the team that wins the toss goes down and kicks a field goal, it won't win the game. They have to score a touchdown. It's goofy. We'll see what happens.
END OF FOURTH QUARTER
The Giants won the toss and they will get the ball first. The rain is coming down as hard as it has the entire game. If New York can score a touchdown here, they win. If they kick a field goal, the 49ers get a possession as well. That's how it works. Here we go, folks.
The New York Football Giants went three-and-out to start the overtime period. San Francisco came damn close to intercepting Manning but for the second time in the game, two defenders ran into each other and prevented a turnover. After the punt, the 49ers will start from their own 22-yard line.
San Francisco's offense has been puttering for most of the day and this drive was no different. Smith threw incomplete on first down, Frank Gore was dropped for a loss of two on second down and a pass to Vernon Davis was successful but two yards shy of the marker. The ensuing punt put New York on their own 35, where they can win with a field goal if they drive down and kick one.
The Giants were actually able to pick up a first down on their next drive but on 3rd and 3, the 49ers defensive line again just pushed the New York line back and got the sack. Fortunately for the Giants, Kyle Williams fumbled the ensuing punt return and the G-Men recovered to put them in field goal range to win this game and head to the Super Bowl for another showdown against New England. Wow. Kyle Williams, you just made yourself the most hated man in the entire Bay Area.
FINAL SCORE -- Giants-20, 49ers-17: The Giants started in great position because Kyle Williams is terrible at his job but they ran it right down to the six yard line and set Lawrence Tynes up with a 26-yard attempt that became a 31-yard attempt due to a delay of game penalty. It didn't matter because Tynes nailed it and sent the Giants to the Super Bowl for what should be an amazing rematch against the Patriots four years after New York spoiled New England's perfect season.