SAN FRANCISCO -- Justin Smith emphatically pumped his fist following his game-saving defensive gem. Carlos Rogers danced after his second interception. And their coach, Jim Harbaugh, was perfectly polite in his postgame handshake before pointing and waving to a cheering crowd as he left the field at Candlestick Park.
"I just walked off the field with joy inside. Right now, we're 8-1," said Rogers, who made two interceptions for the first time in his seven-year career. "We stuck to it to the end, and last minute of the game made a play."
With his team trailing, Manning completed a pair of long fourth-down passes and got the Giants to the red zone with 1:53 to go. Unlike last week's rally by New York (6-3) at New England, Smith thwarted the final chance with a leaping right-handed smack of the ball on fourth-and-2 from the 10.
"It was a big win for us. As we continue to win we're getting on a bigger stage, and that's exactly what we want, we want to continue to climb and get on bigger stages," quarterback Alex Smith said. "That's it. You're as good as your record, and you're as good as your last game. And we beat a really good football team."
Kendall Hunter ran for a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth, moments after Rogers made his second interception of the day.
"I don't take any credit. It's these men. These mighty, strong men," Harbaugh said. "They deserve the credit."
Manning completed an 18-yard pass to Manningham on fourth-and-6 and then a 10-yarder to Victor Cruz on fourth-and-5 on the last-ditch drive. Manning just overthrew Manningham in the end zone with 2:52 left.
"I'm very disappointed," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I thought we were in perfect control. I thought we would get there, score and send it into overtime and win it in overtime. We've done well in those situations and I expected to do well again."
But Smith completed at least three passes to four different receivers, including tight end Delanie Walker's six receptions for 69 yards.
It was a day of defense and a late-game passing show. San Francisco had 77 total yards rushing to 93 for New York.
"Now teams know what Alex can do under pressure," Walker said. "We felt like this was a playoff-caliber game and he came through for us."
The first half featured seven possessions, five field goals and no punts.
Gore, the two-time Pro Bowler, already was nursing a tender right ankle that has bothered him on several occasions this season before hurting his knee Sunday and watching much of the second half in a red jacket on the sideline.
"Someone twisted me up. I felt like I could have played," Gore said.
Gore has 7,196 yards rushing and needs 149 more to pass late Hall of Famer Joe Perry (7,344) for the most in franchise history.
Manning finished 26 for 40 for 311 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Akers kicked first-half field goals of 36, 52 and 39 yards and then a 28-yarder to open the second half for his third game of the season with four field goals, and he converted from beyond 50 yards for a franchise-record fifth time in as many chances.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press