December 22, 2014
Giants crush 49ers as Falcons remain only unbeaten team
The New York Giants crushed the San Francisco 49ers in an ominous sign of their intentions to defend their Super Bowl title.
The Giants (4-2) made light work of the 49ers (4-2), the team that beat in last year's NFC Conference final, to win 26-3, while last season's AFC champions, the New England Patriots, suffered a surprise loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The red-hot Atlanta Falcons won a thriller with the Oakland Raiders to maintain their perfect start while the Cleveland Browns finally registered their first victory of the National Football League season.
The Houston Texans suffered their first defeat of the season, losing 42-24 to the resurgent Green Bay Packers, and the Baltimore Ravens survived a nail-biter with the Dallas Cowboys for their fourth successive win.
There were also wins for the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins all won.
The Giants gave 49ers quarterback Alex Smith a torrid time, sacking him six times and making three interceptions while New York signal-caller Eli Manning threw for 193 yards and a touchdown, to Victor Cruz.
"Coming in to this game, we knew it was a great challenge to see where we stand," Manning said in a televised interview from Candlestick Park.
"That's what we did at the end of last season... we're getting back into that rhythm of playing smart."
Seattle (4-2) stunned the Patriots (3-3) with a late touchdown when Russell Wilson found Sidney Rice for a 46-yard touchdown pass down the middle, overturning a 13-point deficit in the last 10 minutes to win 24-23.
Matt Bryant kicked a 55-yard field goal with one second to play to give the unbeaten Falcons (6-0) a 23-20 win over the visiting Oakland Raiders (1-4).
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who had thrown three interceptions in the first half, engineered the game-winning drive after Oakland tied the score with 40 seconds left in regulation.
The Cleveland Browns (1-5) piled on 27 points in the second half to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-24 and snap an 11-game losing streak dating back to November of last season.