September 06 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers squeaked through a 16-13 opening day victory of the Giants last game. In playing to victory the game came down to one key factor. That factor being the 49ers star players are simply better than the Giants star players. As a result, when the game was on the line, the 49ers were able to score and the Giants simply couldnít stop them.
Both teams played very strong on defense, as the score dictates. Mainly both teams were able to move the ball until they got into scoring position. In the 49ers case, the difference was that they were also able to sack the quarterback, and the Giants couldnít respond on offense because the weapons werenít there.
The Giants were able to silence Terrell Owens until the final drive of the game. Owens broke free on a key reception that put the 49ers in scoring position. Prior to that he also had a reverse that proved essential to the teams lone touchdown drive. The Giants biggest play maker, defensive end, Michael Strahan couldnít come up big with the game on the line.
It wasnít just Owens that made plays that turned the tide of the game. Both Kevan Barlow and Garrison Hearst made plays when the game was on the line. They simply out matched Giant defenders and willed their way down field. It was the key plays that made the difference in this very close games, and the 49ers simply had more of them.
The 49ers defense recorded three sacks, and three interceptions as well as a fumble recovery at the end of the game. Though the team did not capitalize on these scores often, it was these plays that kept the Giants out of the endzone, and gave the 49ers offensive stars a chance to win the game.
The game came down to the 49ers having a few players that simply were better than the Giants, and when the game was on the line, they made the plays that the Giants could have. Itís a strategy that the team got away with this week, but one that wonít likely work in the future. While the defense was hot all game, the 49ers offense will have to start firing on all cylinders in order to keep pace with Denver next week.