*The Giants were dead in the water with less than two minutes to go, down four points and without their top wide receivers, but Eli Manning saved the day -- er, night -- once again. New York took control of the NFC East with a 30-27 comeback win over Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. *
Bad Eli reared his ugly head at the end of the first half when, driving up four points, he threw a boneheaded interception to a blanketed Odell Beckham. The interception was only Manning's second of the season, and it would almost prove costly. However, in the second half, Good Eli found his footing. He connected with Beckham for long gains and otherwise dumped passes down to his running backs and tight ends.
Of course, Manning saved his darkest, greatest magic for last. Down four points late and with Beckham and Rueben Randle both sidelined with hamstring injuries, Manning marched 82 yards down the field in 1:15, mostly on short passes to Shane Vereen, and finished off the drive with a picture-perfect pass to Larry Donnell in the back of the end zone.
Manning had a masterful evening, finishing with 41(!) completions for 441(!!) yards and three touchdowns. Even more impressive, sans his skillful stars, he pulled off the Miracle at the Meadowlands, Part III, and kept New York's NFC East hopes alive and well.
- The 49ers of old were back, for a minute or two. After weeks of enduring criticism for poor throws and pathetic pocket awareness, Colin Kaepernick played his best ball of the young season, finishing 23-of-35 passing for 262 yards and two touchdown throws, and almost lead San Francisco to a victory. After a frustrating first half, Kaepernick came out of the gate firing for the 49ers. He showed touch on deep balls to Anquan Boldin in the second half, threw smart screens to Torrey Smith and Bruce Ellington all night and led San Francisco on three scoring drives.
However, Kaepernick showed his immaturity on the 49ers' last play of the drive, wasting time running outside of the pocket and not finding open receivers quickly. This week was an improvement, but still not enough to keep him off the hot seat.
- Antonio Cromartie may have awoken a sleeping Giant. After the Jets cornerback called Beckham a "one-year wonder" earlier this week, the second-year wideout carried the entire New York offense on his back with a virtuoso performance early on.
Beckham played multiple roles for Manning, catching long post routes for major yardage and turning short routes into big plays. On his touchdown catch, Beckham criss-crossed from the sideline back to Manning, who, under pressure, dumped off to Beckham. The Madden cover boy spun around, evaded another defender, and put the Giants ahead.
New York should be worried though long-term about Beckham's health. The wide receiver left the game with a hamstring injury immediately following the touchdown before returning on the final drive. Beckham, of course, has a history of hamstring issues, and missed the early goings of his rookie season because of one.