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Giants pull away from 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 6, 2005) -- Though Jeremy Shockey and Michael Strahan had miserable memories of Candlestick Park, Eli Manning was still in college when the New York Giants' last trip to the playoffs ended here in a historic collapse.

The young quarterback thought the old building was an excellent place to get his first true road victory.

Manning passed for 251 yards and a touchdown, Brandon Jacobs rushed for two short fourth-quarter scores and the Giants defense yielded 138 total net yards in a 24-6 victory against the San Francisco 49ers.

Plaxico Burress had five catches for 79 yards in the third consecutive victory for the Giants (6-2), who maintained their lead in the NFC East by suffocating the 49ers offense, which hasn't scored a touchdown in its past 13 quarters at home.

The Giants offense also floundered for long stretches against San Francisco's solid defense, but a handful of big throws by Manning led to scores.

"We just had to get the ball in our receivers' hands and let them be the athletes," said Manning, who had been 0-5 in games outside Giants Stadium; New York beat New Orleans at the Meadowlands in Week 2, technically a Saints home game after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome. "We had to figure out a way not to hurt ourselves, and mostly we avoided that. We had too many mistakes, but they didn't end up hurting us."

That wasn't always the case in San Francisco. Only 11 Giants are left from one of the club's most infamous postseason defeats: On Jan. 5, 2003, New York allowed San Francisco to rally from a 24-point deficit in the second half of a 39-38 wild-card victory.

It was the second-biggest collapse in NFL playoff history, and New York hasn't been back to the postseason or Candlestick since. But while the 49ers are 10-31 since that thriller, the Giants have rebuilt themselves into a postseason contender behind Manning, who was 18-for-33 and threw a TD pass in his ninth consecutive game.

Shockey, who dropped a pass in the end zone during the second half of that playoff loss in San Francisco, stretched full length to catch a 32-yard scoring pass 13 seconds before halftime.

"It was wide open, and there was no one there," Shockey said of his TD catch -- not the ball he dropped two seasons ago. "I have never seen that look in my whole career, and I probably will never see it again. It was a completely busted coverage."

Burress made a stunning one-handed, 50-yard catch on the final play of the third quarter, and Jacobs rushed for a 1-yard score moments later. Amani Toomer then made a 23-yard catch near the goal line, setting up another 1-yard TD run.

Cody Pickett, the 49ers' fourth starting quarterback in five games, made few mistakes in his first start. But he couldn't spark anything behind San Francisco's comically inept offensive line, which committed several penalties and rarely allowed Pickett a moment's peace.

"Cody did a great job with the plays, but it's tough getting the timing down when you don't have the same quarterback in practice every week," receiver Brandon Lloyd said of Pickett, who went 12-for-21 for 102 yards.

"(Pickett) didn't cause any problems for us," Strahan said. "It seemed like every time he dropped back, we were successful in putting some pressure on him and hitting him."

Joe Nedney kicked two field goals for the Niners (2-6), who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

The 49ers offense briefly got going late in the first half, with Pickett scrambling for two first downs before Lloyd took the crowd's breath away with a one-handed, behind-the-head catch inside the New York 5.

But struggling left tackle Anthony Clement was called for holding on the play -- and after the line was called for back-to-back false starts, Brent Alexander intercepted Pickett's long pass.

Manning quickly hit Shockey twice for the Giants' first TD.

"It is a lack of focus and concentration," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said of the penalties. "Emotion is a huge part of the game, and you can't let emotions get the better of you. There's not a tremendous amount of noise at home. Today, (false starts are) inexcusable."

San Francisco scored on Nedney's 48-yard field goal early in the second half, ending nearly 108 scoreless minutes for the Giants defense, which shut out Washington last week. Nedney hit a 52-yarder several minutes later.


  • San Francisco got four of its nine first downs on penalties.
    • Back judge Don Dorkowski injured his calf during the second half, and the game finished with six officials.
  • The Niners had only 10 men on the field for the game's first play -- a 28-yard catch by Shockey.
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