The Giants managed to upend the Buccaneers in a thrilling 41-34 comeback win.
For the better part of three quarters, the Giants (1-1) did all they could to give away the game to the upstart Bucs (1-1), as they had a first half to forget. New York looked like the same underachieving unit that performed for much of last season, only to get hot down the stretch in winning the title. Sunday was no different.
Third-string running back Andre Brown capped off the win with a two-yard touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. It was set up by Eli Manning hitting a streaking Hakeem Nicks down the right sideline for a 50-yard gain, with just over 90 seconds remaining.
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Manning, for all his heroics, was turnover-prone in the first half but made the biggest plays of the game when needed, specifically when he found a streaking Victor Cruz for an 80-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. He added a 33-yard touchdown strike to tight end Martellus Bennett on their next possession, with 3:59 remaining, to go up 34-27. The fourth-quarter passing display was extra special for Manning, as he finished second in single-game passing yards in the franchise’s annals (Phil Simms, 513 yards in 1985). Manning finished 31-of-51 for 510 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions but it could’ve been argued that the Giants wouldn’t have needed his valiance had he not thrown three interceptions in the second quarter.
His biggest error came when he threw a pick-six to Eric Wright to close out the first half. Wright wasn’t even initially involved on the play, as he was coming on a cornerback blitz but stopped short, snagged Manning’s offering and raced the distance as none of the Giants’ offensive players could contain the weaving and juking Wright. The Giants were driving deep into Buccaneers’ territory at the time.
Manning and Cruz weren’t the only ones to be lauded, as Brown proved to be a bigger weapon than any of the remaining Giants’ running backs. Starter Ahmad Bradshaw injured his neck midway through the opening quarter, never to be seen again, and his understudy, rookie David Wilson, was ineffective (three carries for six yards). Brown finished with 71 yards on 13 carries, including a game-tying two-point conversion following Cruz’s touchdown. Brown also added a touchdown.
The Buccaneers, who were in command for most of the game, were led by wideout Vincent Jackson, who victimized Giants’ defensive backs with 128 yards on five receptions and a touchdown. Jackson was a mismatch with all of the cornerbacks, regardless of whether it was starter Corey Webster or reserves Michael Coe and Jayron Hosley. The Bucs made things very interesting when Freeman hit Mike Williams on a 41-yard touchdown streak down the left sidelines, as the wideout out-jumped Justin Tryon for the score, knotting it at 34-34.
But naturally, as is the Giants’ modus operandi, they decided to make things interesting by waiting for the waning moments to pull out the win. New York needed this momentous win, however, as they travel to Carolina to face Cam Newton on a short rest week, in a Thursday night matchup.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.