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Giants 30, 49ers 27: "Kudos & Wet Willies" review

Let's look at who played well and who did not in Sunday's thrilling last-minute victory by the Giants.

Larry Donnell secures the game-winning catch Sunday night
Larry Donnell secures the game-winning catch Sunday night
Elsa/Getty Images


New York Giants 30, San Francisco 49ers 27. And it really was the  "New York Giants." As in, everybody. From top to bottom it seemed like the entire roster contributed to a victory the Giants had to have on Sunday night, and one they had to work much harder to get than many analysts and fans thoughts they would.

"They're resilient, they're tough, they're tough-minded," said New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin of his team. "They define themselves as scrappy, a scrappy bunch. They are that.

"I told them in the locker room it took every guy tonight. Every guy in order to secure the win. People were playing and getting pushed into roles they hadn't been in before. That's a real sign of a team."

In honor of that total team effort this will be one of those rare day-after-game "Kudos & Wet Willies" where there are no "Wet Willies" handed out. Sure, there are some things to quibble with -- like a couple of dropped passes, a handful of huge running plays allowed and the usual struggle to defend the middle of the field vs. the pass -- but the 3-2 Giants have won three straight, lead the NFC East, and just earned a hard-fought victory with contributions up and down the roster. So, let's acknowledge that pretty much everyone who played had something to do with the victory.

Now, on to the individual honors.

Kudos to ...

Eli Manning -- Of course we have to start here. And we have to start with the game-winning drive, the 27th such regular-season game-winner of his 12-year career. Manning can make you crazy, he often has this season, and a couple of times on Sunday night he did. When the Giants needed him, though. Super Bowl Eli showed up. Look at this game-winning throw by Manning:

The catch by Larry Donnell is spectacular, with a little hint of "Helmet Catch" involved. The throw, though, is phenomenal. Manning told Donnell he would throw him open, and he did. That pass is thrown in the only possible place the 6-foot-6 Donnell can catch it, and in a spot where only the Giants' tight end has a chance. Unbelievable.

Beyond that, though, look at who on the field with Manning on the final drive. No Odell Beckham Jr, except briefly at the end. No Rueben Randle. No VictorCruz. There was Donnell, an undrafted guy who has been catching a lot of flak for his play thus far in 2015. There was Dwayne Harris, still trying to prove himself as an NFL wide receiver. There was sixth-round pick Geremy Davis. There was Myles White, just bumped up from the practice squad a few days ago. No matter.

Manning hit Shane Vereen three times for 51 yards, got a fortunate replay reversal on a ball initially ruled an interception, got the pass interference on a throw to Beckham, and made the brilliant throw to Donnell.

He ended up with a franchise-record 41 completions, topping Phil Simms' mark of 40, set Oct. 13, 1985 vs. the Chicago Bears. His 54 pass attempts were a career-high. His 441 passing yards were the third-highest total of his career. He completed passes to eight different receivers, and ended the night with three touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 110.2.

Odell Beckham Jr. -- The Manning-to-Beckham connection was alive and well Sunday night, especially in the first half when Beckham had five receptions. Beckham ended up with seven catches for 121 yards and a touchown, including a 49-yard catch-and-run. His 17-yard touchdown was beautiful, grabbing a short pass, spinning to the outside away from defenders and sprinting to the end zone. Beckham, after tweaking his hamstring, came back in briefly on the final drive and drew a critical pass interference penalty on San Fancisco's Kenneth Acker that gave the Giants a first down at the 49ers' 12-yard line with 26 seconds to play.

Wide receivers not named Beckham or Randle -- Dwayne Harris had a couple of unsightly drops in the first half that conjured memories of Preston Parker, but responded and ended up with a career-high six catches for 72 yards, the second week in a row he has established a career-high in receptions. Geremy Davis had only one catch, but it went for 16 yards and a first down on third-and-one at the Giants' 30 in the fourth quarter. The play set up a Josh Brown field goal that gave the Giants a 23-20 lead with 4:29 to play.

Larry Donnell -- Donnell came up huge when the Giants needed him to. In a Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Donnell had a Manning pass that would have given the Giants a chance on their final drive sail just off his fingertips. This time, Donnell made the difficult game-winning catch. He ended up with six catches. He also uttered this very memorable Donnell-esque quote:

"It was something we had been working on the entire week," Donnell said. "You know, we seen a two-high look, we saw the middle of the field open and you know, in the green zone you know, that's where most of my happenings happen. So we saw the look and Eli put it up there and I was the one who got it.

"Once I had it, I had to hold that thing. You know, the game was on the line and I had to make a play."

Offensive line -- Manning dropped back to pass 55 times and was never sacked. Yes, the Giants got the ball out quickly on many of the 54 occasions Manning threw the ball. Yes, the quarterback didn't have a "clean" pocket all the time, having to maneuver to find some throwing lanes. But, zero sacks in 55 drop backs is, well, zero sacks in 55 drop backs. The worst shot Manning took all night was on his 11-yard scramble, when he couldn't decide whether to slide or get out of bounds, and ended up getting blasted to the turf for his indecision.

Shane Vereen -- If you hadn't figured it out already, now does everyone understand why the Giants signed Vereen as a free agent? He had eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. On the game-winning drive Verren caught three passes for 51 yards. He is a game-changer for the Giants, and he helped change the outcome on Sunday.

Will Tye -- The undrafted rookie tight end played a significant role for the Giants Sunday in only his second NFL game. With Daniel Fells on IR and Jerome Cunningham inactive, Tye played 25 snaps and caught the first four passes of his NFL career for 48 yards. He had back-to-back catches for 32 yards late in the second quarter.

Josh Brown -- The veteran place kicker went three-for-three Sunday night and is now 13-for-13 on the season.

Kerry Wynn -- Want to know how important the undrafted second-year defensive end has become to the Giants. He played 66 of the 68 defensive snaps on Sunday night, often moving from defensive end to tackle in pass-rushing situations. Not a huge statistical night, with four tackles, one for loss, and one quarterback pressure. You just have to acknowledge how integral Wynn has become to the defense.

Damontre Moore -- The Giants, the fan base, and yours truly have been waiting for production from Moore. Sunday night, we got it. Moore played just 17 snaps -- let's argue about that another time as it's clear the Giants see him as a pass-rushing specialist. Last week I wrote that we need to argue less about Moore's playing time and more about what he had not been doing with the snaps he received. Sunday night, that changed. Moore chased down Colin Kaepernick for his first two sacks of the season, forcing a fumble on one of them. He also had a pressure and a tackle for loss. That is the kind of production the Giants need when Moore is on the field.

Final Thoughts

Who did I miss, Giants fans? There is a lot to digest from Sunday night, and probably a lot of players worthy of mention who have been glossed over. Add your thoughts in the comments.