The Giants did about all they could to give away the game, but luckily for them the Raiders were a little bit more generous in a 24-20 win.
New York was led by a stingy defense that forced two turnovers, including a timely Terrell Thomas 65-yard interception return that set up Big Blue’s eventual winning points and a strip sack by Mathias Kiwanuka with 3:21 remaining in the fourth quarter to ice the game. The Giants (3-6) were actually outplayed by the Raiders (3-6) for a majority of the game, but it was key mistakes by Oakland quarterback Terrell Pryor (11-of-26, 122 yards, no touchdowns and an interception) and an unimaginative offense, that ultimately unraveled the Raiders.
Pryor’s counterpart, Eli Manning, wasn’t necessarily effective either, as he went 12-of-22 for 140 yards, a touchdown and an interception and had an inexplicable interception with just under two minutes remaining in the first half to give the Raiders a 17-14 lead into the locker room.
The Giants were able to bounce back in the second half, via their own version of ground and pound, as they held Oakland to just three second-half points. Andre Brown, playing in his first regular season game since suffering a fractured leg in Big Blue’s preseason finale, was the primary ball carrier and damaged the interior Oakland defense with tough pile-moving runs. Brown finished with a game-high 115 rushing yards, including his first touchdown of the season — a 1-yard run — that was set up by Thomas’s pick.
Oakland’s offense was stifled in the second half and particularly on third downs (2-of-12), as they could only muster 213 total yards. The Giants’ streak of not allowing a second-half touchdown has now expanded to 14 quarters.
What we learned ...
1. Block party
Special teams play was boom or bust for the Giants all afternoon, beginning with the first action of the game. Wideout Jerrel Jernigan fumbled the opening kickoff at the 19-yard line and it was recovered and returned to the Giants’ 5-yard line. The Raiders capitalized two plays later with a 1-yard touchdown by quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The punt team also didn’t have the best of games, as Steve Weatherford tallied only 30.3 yards net average, including two shanked punts and a punt that was blocked with less than five minutes remaining in the game. The boom, however, came from rookie defensive end Damontre Moore, who came through untouched and up the middle to block a Marquette King punt. The carom was scooped by rookie safety Cooper Taylor, who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown on Oakland’s second possession.
2. Many happy returns
Brown had a solid return in his first game since being activated off the designated to return/injured reserve list. Brown, who was injured in the team’s preseason finale and missed the first eight games of the season, ran for 115 yards and was prominently featured in the running game, as Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) was inactive and Peyton Hillis (21 rushing yards) wasn’t very effective. The 240-pound Brown ran with as much power as the 265-pound Jacobs, but with far more nimbleness as he just may have locked up the No. 1 running back position going forward.
3. Big Apple turnovers
Manning came into the game on a two-game turnover-free streak, but that ended with an uneven performance that featured spotty accuracy and a crucial pick six right before the half. The interception return by Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter was taken 43 yards to the house, at the 1:18 mark, to give Oakland a 17-14 lead into the locker room. Manning was flustered all afternoon by a Raiders’ front-four pass rush that was in his face often, especially on the Porter interception when the Giants’ interior line was compromised by two blitzing players up the middle.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.