Giants rally to play spoiler, ending Lions’ playoff dreams
The Giants entered Ford Field and were the ones to show the heart of a lion, as they knocked off Detroit with a gritty 23-20 comeback win in overtime.
The loss not only helped the Giants (6-9) end their two-game skid, but also eliminated the Lions (7-8) from playoff contention, as it was the sixth time that Detroit blew a fourth-quarter lead this season — including in back-to-back weeks.
New York was led by quarterback Eli Manning’s efficient game (23-of-42 for 256 yards, one touchdown and an interception) as, save for a safety, he saw minimal pressure in the pocket from a Lions’ defensive front that should’ve manhandled the wounded Giants’ offensive line. Manning was only sacked twice, as the Lions’ vaunted pass rush was stymied by the Giants’ patchwork unit.
Manning’s counterpart, Matthew Stafford, wasn’t as efficient as he managed to oversee an offense that blew the late lead. Stafford (25-of-42 for 222 yards, no scores and two picks) was clearly lamenting the fact his top target, All-Pro wideout Calvin Johnson, was gimpy with a bad knee.
New York erased a seven-point Lions lead in the fourth quarter to force overtime when safety Will Hill returned a Stafford offering 38 yards for the pick-six to tie the score late. The touchdown gave Big Blue 17 points off turnovers for the game.
Offensively, the Giants didn’t get much in the second half, but Manning did have an efficient passing day, despite missing his top target, wideout Victor Cruz, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Manning was big-time in the overtime session as he led Big Blue down the field on their second drive for Josh Brown’s game-winning 45-yard field. Manning’s clutch fourth-down conversion extended the drive to allow the walk-off win.
What we saw …
1. Turn, turn, turn
Turnovers once again reared their head for Big Blue as they committed giveaways in a span of two minutes after being very stingy for the first 59 minutes. Eli Manning’s lone pick continued New York’s streak of committing a turnover in every contest this season, as his interception came late when Big Blue was scurrying to get into game-winning field goal range in the waning seconds with no timeouts. Running back Andre Brown also committed a turnover when he had a rare fumble on the Giants’ first possession of overtime. Brown was also injured on the play, and carted off the field. Manning now has a franchise-record 26 interceptions.
2. Mega absent
Johnson came into the game with a bum knee, which kept him out of practice most of the week. That rustiness showed itself early, as he was held to just three receptions for 43 yards in the first half — and didn’t add to that total as he was shutout in the second half and overtime. Johnson, who admitted earlier in the week he didn’t know the Giants’ defensive backs by name, will certainly recall them now as they did a great job in neutralizing him. The league’s best wideout was held out of the end zone by a combination that included cornerbacks Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride (before he limped off with a bum hamstring in the first half) and Jayron Hosley.
3. Totally offensive
The Giants’ offense might’ve been the biggest culprit for the team’s down season, but the same can’t really be said about the defense. The latter continued its gritty play by stifling a Lions offense that is littered with stars. Detroit had a quiet 355 yards of total offense, as their “Big 3” of Stafford, Johnson and running back Reggie Bush were silenced for most of the game. Bush, who entered the game as one of the league’s premiere dual-threat running backs, was held to just 34 rushing yards on 12 carries. Bush also fumbled early in the first half and was in and out of the lineup for the remainder of the game, seemingly in head coach Jim Schwartz’s doghouse, as backup Joique Bell (91 rushing yards, one touchdown and 10 catches for 63 yards) got most of the touches. Bush’s fumble was recovered by safety Antrel Rolle, who is continuing his late Pro Bowl push. Defensive end Justin Tuck was also a part of the festivities by registering his first interception of the season and second of his career.
Big Blue notes …
» The Lions committed their 34th turnover of the season after committing three giveaways. Only the Giants have committed more turnovers this season with 40.
» When Manning connected with Jerrel Jernigan on a 20-yard strike, it was Jernigan’s first career touchdown. The fledgling wideout earned the extra playing time due to the absence of Victor Cruz, who is out for the season with a knee injury, and rewarded the coaching staff with a solid game of six receptions for 80 yards and the score.
» Tight end Bear Pascoe logged his first career carry midway through overtime, as the Giants were jockeying for ball placement and field goal position.
» Lions running back Theo Riddick, a Summerville, N.J. native, earned his first career touchdown with 11:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, which would’ve been the eventual game-winning touchdown had it not been for Hill’s game-tying interception.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.