Offensive linemen prove they are tough as leather
January 06, 2003
Kevin Lynch, Brian Murphy, Ron Kroichick
Tackle Scott Gragg climbed into a light brown leather suit after the game.
"He looks good," said fellow offensive lineman Ron Stone, who was sporting a suit of blue leather. The offensive linemen, showing a solidarity in appearance, all purchased leather suits for the playoff run.
Actually, Gragg would have looked good in anything after the 49ers' had-to- be-seen-to-be-believed victory over the Giants.
It was Gragg, a former Giant, who kept defensive end Michael Strahan away from quarterback Jeff Garcia.
Gragg did the same thing in the season opener, holding Strahan to four tackles and no sacks. In this game, Gragg was even better -- no sacks and just two tackles allowed.
Gragg was cautious about talking about his efforts against the highly competitive Strahan, whom Gragg considers a friend.
"I just don't want to be seen as gloating," Gragg said.
Nevertheless, it seems that Gragg knows how to stymie one of the league's most fearsome pass rushers.
"I had a lot of help from my teammates," Gragg said. "I think my strengths play to his strengths, so it ends up being a wash."
DEHAVEN REMEMBERS: 49ers special-teams coach Bruce DeHaven now has been a part of the first and second greatest comebacks in playoff history. He was the Bills' special-teams coach when Buffalo came back from a 35-3 second-half deficit against Houston.
"One thing I remember is the crowd getting back into it, just like they did today," DeHaven said. "They were loud because we gave them nothing to cheer about early. They were not tired."
PETERSON'S PUSH-UPS: After linebacker Julian Peterson missed a first- quarter interception right in his hands, he immediately hit the turf and pumped out three push-ups.
For every interception missed, Peterson said he owes his coach push-ups. "I was upset I missed that pass," he said. "So I decided to do some push-ups."
For every dropped interception, coaches have the linebackers catch 15 passes in practice.
CHALLENGING: Coach Steve Mariucci ran his record on challenges this year to 7-3 when running back Kevan Barlow's stop at the goal line in the second quarter was ruled a touchdown.
WHERE'S THE REVIEW?: With just 29 seconds left in the game, the 49ers thought it was over. Corner Ahmed Plummer appeared to come down with an interception while closely covering Amani Toomer, but officials ruled the play as incomplete. Because there were less than two minutes in the game, Mariucci could not contest the call, and instead had to rely on an NFL official to call for a review upstairs.
No review was called, and the 49ers seethed.
"It's a big game, a big play, you would think somebody would take five seconds to look at it," Mariucci said.
Referee Ron Winter said the men upstairs did not feel a need for a replay review: "They obviously agreed with the ruling on the field."
BRIEFLY: The 49ers' comeback from 24 points down is not the biggest comeback in team history. On Dec. 7, 1980, second-year quarterback Joe Montana led a comeback from a 35-7 deficit against New Orleans at Candlestick. The 49ers won 38-35 in overtime. . . . Garcia's 76-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens in the first quarter -- a 10-yard pass and 66-yard run, essentially -- was the second-longest pass play in 49ers postseason history. The longest is John Brodie-to-Gene Washington for 78 yards against Washington on Dec. 26, 1971. Montana and Freddie Solomon also hooked up for a 76-yard TD at Washington on Jan. 8, 1984. . . . Owens' 25-yard pass to Tai Streets off a reverse was the first pass completion of Owens' career. . . . This was the highest-scoring game in 49ers postseason history (77 total points). The previous high was 75, when the 49ers beat San Diego 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX.
INJURY REPORT: LT Derrick Deese sprained his left ankle and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game in Tampa. K Jeff Chandler, LB Derek Smith and G Stone are all probable for the game, all with sprained ankles.
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