EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY -- Eli Manning’s legend is mainly due to his handling of Bill Belichick and the Patriots, but on Sunday, it was Tom Brady’s turn to reverse the fortunes and stick the dagger in Big Blue, as New England edged the Giants, 27-26.
Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yarder with one second remaining was the final nail for a Giants’ squad that was looking to do the near-impossible again, and knock off the unbeaten Patriots. Gostowksi has now nailed 30-straight field goals to remain perfect on the season. But it wasn’t easy for Brady and Co., who drove down the field with 1:47 and no timeouts to get the Patriots into long field goal range.
The Giants (5-5) gave the Patriots (9-0) all they could handle in defeat and did what no other team has been able to do so far this season, and take New England to the brink of defeat, but it wasn’t enough, as the Pats showed their championship mettle.
It was almost déjà vu for Big Blue, as they nearly shut the door on a Patriots’ comeback on their final offensive drive and then again on the ensuing final defensive drive. But Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t completely gather what would’ve been a one-yard touchdown grab along the sideline of the end zone. If he would’ve caught it, it would’ve given the Giants a 30-24 lead with just over 90 seconds remaining. Alas, New York had to settle for a Josh Brown field goal for the one uneasy one-point win.
Defensively, the Giants had another chance to close out the Patriots, when safety Landon Collins had the chance to be the hero when he appeared to pick off Brady near midfield with 1:39 remaining. The catch was ruled incomplete as the rookie couldn’t finish the process when the ball popped out from under him, giving the Pats new life and another chance to drive down field and get within Gostowski’s range.
It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Giants, as they head into their bye week with a scant lead in the NFC East race.
“I'm very disappointed, upset, whatever the word might be,” said head coach Tom Coughlin afterwards. “Very frustrating loss.”
It certainly wasn’t the ending the coach envisioned after his team took the lead late, but on the bright side, they certainly showed their mettle – and perhaps a glimpse of yet another epic game to be, should the two franchises meet at a later date this season.
Metro takes a look back at the key moments.
What we saw:
Dueling Hall of Famers.
This matchup was everything a football fan wanted it to be, as each quarterback played like signal callers who are on their way to Canton. Manning went 24-of-44 for 361 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, while the Brady tallied 26-of-42 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Both quarterbacks were clutch, as Brady drove the Pats more than half the field in 1:47 to get his team within field goal range. Manning was equally as effective, particularly on money downs, as he was an efficient 8-of-12 (67 percent) on third-downs, including 101 passing yards on that down. Ultimately, Brady made one more play than Manning, but the Giants’ quarterback showed that he is every bit as clutch.
Nowhere to run.
As brilliant as Manning and his passing arsenal looked today, the running game was missing in action. They’ve struggled to run the ball all season, but it was troublesome to see the lack of push on Big Blue’s offensive line and the ineffectiveness of his running backs. Rashad Jennings led the team with 39 yards on 11 carries, but whenever Big Blue needed to drop the hammer on a shorthanded Patriots defense, he didn’t come through. No other Giants’ running back tallied more than 15 yards, meaning there’s a lot of work to do on Big Blue’s bye week to try and remedy their deficiencies.
The others stepped up.
Manning hooked up with Beckham on his first pass attempt on his first possession for an 87-yard touchdown – the longest pass play against Belichick’s Patriots during his tenure – but he wasn’t alone, as there were a few unsung Giants’ players who stepped up their games. Fellow wideout Dwayne Harris, who was taunted by the masses for his multi-year deal this past offseason, has earned his keep in recent weeks – particularly today. Harris took advantage of the extra attention paid to Beckham, as he notched six catches for 82 yards, and a score. He’s stepped up recently in being a reliable No. 2 option for Manning. Defensively, there were a few unsung stars, as Brady threw his first second-half interception of the season when Trumaine McBride picked him off in the end zone, with six minutes remaining. It was thought to be a game-saving turnover, as the Patriots would’ve made it a two-possession game with a touchdown. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who replaced the injured Jon Beason, and defensive end Robert Ayers combined on a sack and fumble of Brady, which was picked up by defensive end Markus Kuhn.
Big Blue notes:
Manning’s touchdown pass to Beckham meant that the quarterback has now reached 20 touchdown passes in a season for the 10th time in his career.
Harris has 4 TD passes this season had three I think in career with Cowboys.
Tight end Daniel Fells made an appearance on the sidelines prior to the start of the game. It was his first public appearance since being put on injured reserve for his staph infection.
That Patriots’ first score set an NFL record, as that made it 32-straight quarters where they scored.
Brady’s 76-yard touchdown connection to tight end Rob Gronkowski was a career-long for the unstoppable target.
Patriots star wideout Julian Edelman registered four catches for 53 yards – and was on his way to a great game -- before bowing out on the final play of the first quarter with a foot injury. He limped to the locker room, early in the second quarter, and never returned.