Tuesday, September 3, 1991


Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. -- Where have we seen this before?

Matt Bahr, who beat the 49ers with a last-second field goal in last season's NFC title game, did it again Monday night, connecting from 35 yards with five seconds left for a 16-14 Giants victory.

It was Chapter III in a series of defensive struggles the past nine months between the East Coast and West Coast heavyweights who have won the last two Super Bowls.

The Giants, the defending Super Bowl champs, have won two of the three games between the teams despite scoring only one touchdown, that a 1-yard run by Ottis Anderson Monday night. The teams have each scored 34 points in the three games.

''That's what it's all about,'' said Anderson, the 34-year-old Super Bowl MVP who contributed a key 5-yard, third-down run to the final drive that gave Ray Handley a win in his first game as Giants coach.

''Obviously, it's a great feeling,'' said Handley, who took over when Bill Parcells retired last May 15. ''I didn't put so much emphasis on this game that it was a make-or-break situation. With San Francisco I didn't think you could do that.''

Bahr made him the winner.

''We get it down close and Matt will kick it through nine times out of 10,'' Anderson said.

Bahr's kick ended the 49ers' league-record road winnin g streak at 19 games. He shared the spotlight with Jeff Hostetler, who beat out Phil Simms for the starting quarterback job. He showed he deserved it. While spotty at times, he completed 17 of 31 for 228 yards and ran five times for 45 yards.

''They did what they had to do,'' said 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who was subbing for the injured Joe Montana. ''They've done it to us a couple of times.''

Hostetler, now 8-0 as a starter in his career, made every play that counted during the 61-yard, 13-play drive that began at the New York 22 with 4 minutes 28 seconds left and ended with Bahr's field goal. It started with a 14-yard pass to Stephen Baker and included a third-down, 11-yard connection with Mark Ingram that put the ball at the 26, well within the range of Bahr, who earlier had a 51-yarder fall just short.

''I knew we were going someplace when I hit Baker,'' Hostetler said. ''But the big one was hitting Mark Ingram on that third-down play.''

The 49ers were hoping for another 51-yarder.

''On that last drive, we just wanted to hold them to make them kick a long field goal,'' said Charles Haley, who led the 49ers' defense. ''Unfortunately, it ended up just like the playoffs.''

Young had put the 49ers ahead 14-13 with a 5-yard scramble 1:23 into the fourth quarter. Young was 12 of 22 for 162 yards and led San Francisco in rushing with 45 yards in six carries. One of his completions was a 73-yard TD pass to Jerry Rice that gave the 49ers a 7-3 first quarter lead.

A 25-yard scramble by Hostetler and a 16-yard pass from Hostetler to Howard Cross set up Anderson's 1-yard TD run 4:55 into the second quarter and then Bahr, who had a 35-yarder on the Giants' first possession, kicked a 28-yarder that made it 13-7 at the half.

The third quarter was scoreless, but Haley and the San Francisco defense began to assert itself.

Late in the period, Haley knocked a ball from Hostetler's hands. Even though the New York quarterback recovered, it was at his own 10. When Sean Landeta got off a punt of only 32 yards, San Francisco was in business.

Young made one key play when he completed a third-down pass for 13 yards to Brent Jones at the 5. Then he rolled left into the end zone as Guy McIntyre dragged down Lawrence Taylor, the only Giant near him.

The Giants moved to the San Francisco 34 on their next possession, but Bahr's field goal from 51 yards was just short. The next time, they made sure they got close enough.

Notes: Anderson moved into a tie for 17th place in career touchdowns when he scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter. The touchdown was his 86th, tying him with former Cleveland and Miami star Paul Warfield. Next on the list is Lance Alworth with 87 and Don Maynard with 88.

Giants cornerback Everson Walls also broke into the top 20 in career interceptions, getting his 51st when he picked off a Steve Young pass in the third quarter. He pulled into a tie with Ronnie Lott of the Raiders and Bobby Bryant, formerly with the Vikings. ... The Giants' 16-14 victory over the 49ers made it a clean sweep for the NFC East on the opening weekend of action.