The Giants and Saints engaged in a good-old fashioned shootout, as New Orleans upended Big Blue, 52-49, on a walk-off field goal.
It was the quintessential game where the team with the ball last ended up winning, as Kai Forbath’s 50-yard field proved to be the winning margin.
The game wasn’t for the football purist, as the teams combined for 1,030 yards and just one punt – including 500 yards of total offense in the first half alone. Rather, it was a fantasy football player’s dream, as neither defense had any inclination of stopping the opposing offense.
The Saints (4-4), winners of three straight, amassed over 150 yards in each quarter and had five scoring drives of 80 yards, one for 96 yards, and another for 60 yards. The Giants (4-4) appeared to be in command halfway through the fourth quarter when cornerback Trumaine McBride took a tipped pass to the house for a 63-yard pick-six, with 7:11 remaining, to give the Giants a 49-42 lead. The play unfolded when cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continued his opportunistic ways when he pummeled wideout Willie Snead on a crossing route, forcing the ball to dislodge and land safely in McBride’s hands, who then raced for the score. McBride was subbing in for Jayron Hosley, who was on the sidelines due to an injury a few plays earlier. It showed their depth, as Hosley was replacing the injured Prince Amukamara.
The effort went in vain, however, as it was the final time Big Blue would score and hold a lead, as the resilient Saints finally forced a punt and used the field-position swing to eventually get Forbath in range.
It was a gritty win for the Saints, as they tied the game with 36 seconds remaining when Drew Brees hit running back C.J. Spiller for the nine-yard touchdown to knot it at 49-all. Moments later, Big Blue was forced into a three-and-out, punted, and accrued a facemask penalty to get New Orleans into field goal range for the back-breaking win.
Metro takes a look at the key moments in the game, a contest Big Blue needed to win, as they’re trying to solely stay atop the NFC East.
What we learned:
Manning returned home to the Big Easy and put on a show in front of his equally-famous family members. Manning went 30-of-41 for 350 yards, six touchdowns and no picks and connected with eight different receivers to scorch the Saints secondary. He beat the beleaguered Saints secondary from the pocket, and from even outside the pocket. His two prettiest plays came on the Giants’ opening drive of the second quarter and early in the fourth quarters, respectively, when he threw touchdowns to unsuspecting receivers. The first came when he rolled to his right, faded towards the sidelines and found Beckham, who seemed surprised to have gotten behind double-coverage for the 50-yard touchdown to tie the score at 28-28. His second improvisational score was a thing of beauty when he bought enough time to find Dwayne Harris for the touchdown on fourth-and-five at the Saints’ nine-yard line and down 14 points. Manning started in the pocket, saw it collapse, and channeled his father Archie’s slick footwork by avoiding the rush and running towards the Saints’ sideline before connecting on the prayer.
Big Blue’s quarterback wasn’t the only one with a homecoming, as his favorite target, wideout Odell Beckham Jr., is also a New Orleans native. Beckham and Manning attended the same high school, Newman, 11 years apart, and both made their collective circles proud – much to the chagrin of a New Orleans crowd that may love their returning heroes, but love their Saints even more. Beckham reverted back to his electric self, after posting a couple of ordinary games lately, as he tallied eight receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns. He beat the Saints in all manners, whether it was on quick slants, or over the top of double-coverage. Beckham had the full arsenal going in the Superdome.
Manning wasn’t the only quarterback to put on a clinic, as Drew Brees finally had a breakout game. Following a sluggish start to the season, Brees has found his groove in recent weeks – culminating with Sunday’s performance. The veteran signal caller was so hot that at one point he was perfect in connecting on 18-straight completions, which tied his own franchise mark, and was just seven short of the NFL record. Brees, who passed for 300 yards in the first half -- the first quarterback since Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did so last November – went 40-of-50 for 511 yards. His seven touchdowns set a franchise record. Other than his forced third-quarter interception in the red zone, Brees had a near-perfect afternoon. But even that ignominy was short lived, as the future Hall of Famer found tight end Ben Watson for the 20-yard touchdown down the seam against a banged-up Giants linebacker corps on the ensuing series. It was just the start for Brees, who tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes. He joined seven other passers.
Big Blue notes:
-Manning passed Hall of Famer Joe Montana for 11th place on the all-time passing touchdown list.
-The six touchdowns were a career high for Manning.
-The shootout was the most combined points in the NFL this season.
-Teams combined for 305 yards in the opening quarter, including 176 by the Saints – the most for them since Nov. 2007.
-Before Forbath’s game winner, both teams had combined for 14 touchdowns and no field goals, the first time that’s happened since Dec. 1965.