Giants rally behind late drive by Manning

Jake Ballard catches the game-winning touchdown in the left side of the end zone.

What went right …
   
1. Big Blue magic

New York rekindled that fourth-quarter magic against New England, both on their penultimate drive and the game-winning drive. The first instance came on their next-to-last series when Mario Manningham victimized the Patriots’ top cover guy, Kyle Arrington. Manningham drew a 35-yard pass interference penalty on Arrington and then finished off the cornerback with a 10-yard touchdown with 3:03 remaining. Eli Manning (20-of-39, 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) continued to haunt the Pats as he led the Giants on a game-winning drive that ended with a one-yard score from Manning to tight end Jake Ballard with 15 seconds remaining. The win snapped New England’s 20-game home winning streak (their last loss was Nov. 3, 2008 against the Steelers).   

2. Front four pressure

Much like their shocking Super Bowl XLII win to culminate the 2007 season, the Giants used a base 4-3 look with minimal blitzing to disrupt and frustrate Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Giants didn’t collect many sacks (two), but what they did was put pressure on Brady with only four rushers, while dropping eight into coverage to limit New England’s plethora of receivers. As a result, Brady appeared flustered for most of the afternoon and the Patriots never really got on track.

The Giants’ defense deserves extra kudos for their overall performance, but most notably in the first half. Big Blue did something no opponent has done since 2006 — a 74-game streak — when they held the Patriots scoreless in the opening half for the first time since Dec. 10, 2006, when the Dolphins accomplished that feat.

4. Brandon in charge

Brandon Jacobs stopped his brooding long enough to play his most effective game all season. Despite missing starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who didn’t even travel with the team, Big Blue leaned heavily on its hulking running back   

What went wrong …
 
1. Third and gone

Despite a couple of miscues that allowed New England to get back into the contest, there were very few hiccups. About the main bugaboo was the fact New York couldn’t extend drives, as the Giants continued their ineptness on third down (3-of-13 on the day). Continuing with the third-down theme, New York also couldn’t move the chains via the rush. They only converted four of their 20 first downs with a running play. 
 
2. The Muff-in’ man

Aaron Ross’s muff on a routine punt was one of the low points of the game for the Giants, especially considering they had established a 10-0 lead and just forced a three-and-out from Brady and Co. Ross’s gaffe only resulted in a 32-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, but it gave the Pats new life and spoiled what potentially could’ve been a game-altering drive from the Giants, who clearly had the stunned Patriots on the ropes.  

3. Late charge

You can’t give a team like the Patriots – and a quarterback like Brady – extra lives and expect to go unscathed. The Giants dominated the Pats physically and psychologically for the better part of three quarters. And yet, the game was tied 10-10 because of a couple of critical Big Blue miscues that turned into New England points. Two New York turnovers (Ross’s muff and Manning’s interception in the end zone) and then a failed six-play drive on their ensuing possession following Hernandez’s score, almost caused the Giants’ collapse. New England didn’t even lead until the 7:08 mark of the fourth quarter.

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.



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