EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Despite being the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants have managed to fly under the radar most of the season.
In the preseason, they were overshadowed in their own area by Tim Tebow and the quarterback hoopla with the New York Jets.
A nationally televised season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys turned off more people. And a nationally televised Sunday night setback to the Philadelphia Eagles that dropped them to 0-2 in the NFC East left many wondering whether this team would even be a playoff team.
Well, guess again.
The Giants (4-2) are not only back, the target on their backs may be even bigger after a dominating 26-3 win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, a team that many felt were the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC.
At the least, the Giants made an enormous statement to every other NFL contender: Don't ignore them.
"There's no doubt," linebacker Michael Boley said. "I think we feel that once we put everything together, offense, defense and special teams; that's something that is going to be tough for teams to beat us. We kind of put everything together yesterday and we showed that we're a team to be reckoned with."
What made the Giants win so impressive was the nature of it. Many felt the Giants could give the 49ers a game, but the one-sided win was totally unexpected.
Jim Harbaugh's team was coming off two lopsided wins, a 34-0 trouncing of the Jets and a 45-3 decision over Buffalo in a contest where Alex Smith and company gained a franchise record 621 yards.
The Giants, whose defense had been inconsistent all season, held the 49ers to a field goal and intercepted Smith three times. Eli Manning and the offense didn't turn the ball over and Ahmad Bradshaw gained 116 of New York's 149 yards on the ground and also reached the end zone.
"For some reason, every time we do something, someone finds a way to say that we could have done it better," receiver Domenik Hixon said. "At the end of the day, we're out there to win ball games, I guess, not to steal a headline."
Coupled with the Eagles' loss at home to Detroit, the Giants hold a one-game lead in the division.