SAN FRANCISCO â?? It was suggested to Mathias Kiwanuka on Sunday in the postgame locker room at Candlestick Park that the Giants had just given the NFL a "subtle reminder" who the defending Super Bowl champions are.
The "reminder" was a 26-3 beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers, one of the leading vote-getters for best team in the NFL through the first quarter of the season.
"I mean, I don't think it was that subtle," the Giants' defensive end/linebacker said with a smirk. "It's fun. It's part of the game. They can talk and say everything they want, but at the end of the day, you've got to line up on Sunday and prove it."
There was nothing subtle about this game. Especially not the chirping leading up to it, beginning with Victor Cruz and Carlos Rogers' trading comments about Cruz's salsa dance, continuing with Tom Coughlin playing the nobody-is-picking-us card, picking up steam with Kevin Gilbride and Jim Harbaugh firing shots from either coast late in the week about how Justin Smith "gets away with murder" (i.e. holding) and culminating in some standard on-field chatter (the 49ers' Ahmad Brooks' telling Giants tackle David Diehl he's "goofy-looking") and big hits on Sunday.
BOX SCORE: Giants 26, 49ers 3
As Kiwanuka noted, there was nothing subtle about the way the Giants won this game, defended their crown and put themselves back in the conversation about who is going to capture it again this season.
More in a bit about how that really doesn't matter much at this point. But for now, we'll allow a little more about the crown stuff.
"The coaches always let us know we aren't the king of the NFL; the Giants are," said Rogers, who watched Cruz salsa in the end zone after he beat him for a touchdown in the second quarter that erased the 49ers' 3-0 lead and began a run of 26 consecutive points by the Giants. "They won the title last year, and they are still the team to beat until somebody else wins the Super Bowl."
For whatever reason, the Giants felt a lot of people weren't adhering to that philosophy this past week.
Coughlin, in a move a bit out of character for him, cited the lack of pundits picking the Giants. Somewhere, Ann Mara was surely watching Fox's Terry Bradshaw pick the 49ers during the pregame show â?? it was Mrs. Mara who famously interrupted Bradshaw's postgame interviews here after January's NFC Championship Game to tell Bradshaw she'd noted he never picks her late husband's team.
Four Lombardi Trophies and whatnot, this franchise still has a complex about these things. Not that they put anything to rest with Sunday's victory â?? one of 16 games on their schedule and one that has both teams' records at 4-2.
"As big as everybody around us is going to make this win, it's not that big when you think about it. You have a lot of football to play," said Justin Tuck, who threw a much-needed splash of cold water on any October overreactions. "We're in the same situation they were in last (November) when they beat us out here. We can't allow this to mean more than just a win."
What it can mean is knowing they played from ahead and kept their feet on the 49ers' throats. Instead of making this another one of their standard close victories, as they had against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns in recent weeks, the Giants jumped to an early lead and expanded it.
The key sequence was the start of the third quarter, when rookie David Wilson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 66 yards. Seven plays later, Ahmad Bradshaw was in the end zone. It was one of 116 yards for Bradshaw, who is only the second running back to break the 100-yard mark on the 49ers in the last 44 games.
Defensively, the Giants were even more impressive. Antrel Rolle had interceptions on San Fransciso's next two drives after Bradshaw's touchdown. The Niners, after putting up 79 points the previous two weeks combined, were held to a field goal Sunday.
Alex Smith's final line (19-for-31 for 200 yards, three interceptions, sacked four times) said it all.
"I could tell at times, we had him a little rattled," Rolle, who made an excellent one-handed play on his first interception after he thought he'd overrun it.
Rolle heard Bradshaw tell him from the sideline Smith was eyeing him up before his second interception.
"Well, if he's watching me, I'm going to sugar him a little bit," said Rolle, who had his third multi-interception of his career and first with the Giants. "I acted like I was playing the deep third and came down to play the hook."
Rolle also told cornerback Prince Amukamara a play the Niners had hit for touchdowns against the Giants last season would come his way Sunday. After Amukamara botched it in practice, Rolle wanted him to be ready.
Amukamara was. He peeled off one receiver to stay in his zone up the deep left side of the field for an interception.
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Read the original story: Giants make statement with dominant road win over 49ers