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Manning’s Big Night Puts Giants in First Place

Manning: 41-of-54 for 441 yards

In a back-and-forth affair on Sunday Night Football, the Giants scored late and got a dramatic win over the 49ers. At 3-2, the Giants sit atop the NFC East. Here’s what stood out during the big victory.


After taking most of the heat for the Giants’ 0-2 start, Eli Manning has picked up his play considerably during the team’s current three-game winning streak. His performance against San Francisco was easily his best of the season.

Manning finished the win 41-of-54 for 441 yards (8.2 YPA), three touchdowns and an interception. While the pick (which came in the end zone while the Giants looked to tack on points before halftime) had the look of a backbreaker, he was great for the rest of the night.

One thing that has impressed me most about Manning’s play this year is his ability to spread the ball around. Seven Giants had four or more receptions as Manning looked to get everyone involved and keep the Niners guessing.

Giants TE Larry Donnell caught the game-winning touchdown against the 49ers on Sunday night (Photo:

Giants TE Larry Donnell caught the game-winning touchdown against the 49ers on Sunday night (Photo:

With San Francisco up 27-23 with under two minutes remaining, Manning showed great poise in leading his team down the field for the game-winning score, an impressive grab by TE Larry Donnell in the back of the end zone with 21 seconds remaining.

What made that drive more impressive? Manning was without Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham for most of it.

Secondary Concern

Colin Kaepernick had been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL through the 49ers’ first four games. Which makes his strong performance against the Giants a bit concerning.

Okay, so maybe Kaepernick wasn’t great on Sunday night, but he was good enough to keep his team in the game until the very end when many Giants fans expected to manhandle the 49ers’ signal caller.

Kaepernick completed 23-of-35 passes for 262 yards (7.5 YPA), two touchdowns and no picks. And the 49ers have a receiving corps highlighted by an aging Anquan Boldin and a declining Torrey Smith.

With all due respect to Kaepernick, he’s far from the toughest competition the Giants’ secondary will face this season, and he seemed to be able to find his receivers whenever he needed to Sunday night. The secondary needs to improve moving forward.

OBJ and Randle

Both Beckham and Randle left Sunday’s game in the second half with hamstring injuries. With Victor Cruz still out, that meant for a while, the Giants were without their top three receivers. This led to former practice squadders Will Tye and Myles White each receiving four targets on Sunday. Yikes.

The good news is Beckham returned to the game on the Giants’ game-winning drive, though he was held without a catch on just one target. The fact that he returned suggests he should be ready to roll next week’s game.

Randle did not return and his status for next week is more in question. However, he has one extra day to get healthy, as the Giants don’t play until Monday night when they face the Eagles. With Cruz still without a timetable, the Giants will hope both of their former LSU receivers are ready to roll next week.

Game Balls & The Goat

Offensive Game Ball: QB Eli Manning

Manning stepped up when the team needed him most, and delivered a game-winning drive even without his top receivers. He showed precision and poise in the pocket, and was on the same page as his receivers for most of the evening. Also, his offensive line deserves a lot of credit, as he was not sacked once on the evening.

Defensive Game Ball: LB Uani’ Unga

Unga stepped in after Jon Beason left Sunday’s game with a concussion, and once again the rookie impressed. He finished with a team-high seven tackles, including two for a loss. Beason’s status for Monday’s trip to Philadelphia is uncertain, but if he can’t go, the Giants will feel comfortable unleashing Unga again.

The Goat: RB Andre Williams

Last week I discussed the possibility of Williams taking over as the starting running back, but he certainly didn’t look like a starter in this league Sunday night. He finished with three carries for zero yards. He’s been incredibly inconsistent this year, and after Shane Vereen’s strong performance (five carries for 24 yards, eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown), Vereen could be in line for more of Williams’ snaps.

Next Up

The Giants head to Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Monday Night Football. The Giants look for their first win over the Eagles since October 2013. In last year’s trip to Lincoln Financial Field, the Giants were shut out 27-0.

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