The Giants have a way of making things interesting this season. Sunday was no different in a thrilling 27-24 win over the Bills.
Big Blue flawlessly executed a bend-but-don’t-break defense to corral the high-tempo Buffalo offense, while the offense used all of its passing resources to counter their anemic run game.
Eli Manning was highly efficient (21-of-32 for 292 yards) in hitting seven different targets. Hakeem Nicks led all Big Blue receivers with 96 yards on four catches, but was complemented by tight end Jake Ballard’s five receptions for 81 yards. The little-known Ballad has quickly become a nice safety resource for Manning, as he’s grabbed a stranglehold on the No. 1 tight end option.
The Giants (4-2) were able to squeak out the win when Corey Webster registered his second interception of the game. The veteran corner played lockdown defense on Buffalo’s No. 1 option, wideout Stevie Johnson, as his second pick of Ryan Fitzpatrick with 4:02 remaining and Buffalo driving, ignited the eventual game-winning drive.
Webster, who hadn’t had a pick all season coming into the game, was relieved afterwards to slow down such a potent Bills offense. But Webster said Big Blue’s defense has yet to put it all together.
“We gave up a couple of big plays early in the game and we strive to not give up big plays,” Webster said. “When the time came we wanted to do something to get those back and we had an opportunity to make some turnovers and get our hands on the ball.”
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Bills star running back Fred Jackson was confident that Buffalo’s penultimate drive was going to be the game winner.
“We just didn’t execute the way we wanted to and that’s on all of us,” Jackson said of the ill-fated drive that ended in an interception. “We just didn’t finish, didn’t execute, but I can’t take anything away from them, that’s a good football team … we feel like we left one out there today. But they made a play when they had to and they got the victory.”
Ahmad Bradshaw finally generated some rushing offense, as he had a 30-yard run on the final drive. Bradshaw started off slowly, but finished strong as he tallied 104 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
He acknowledged his slow start — and overall slump — but was grateful to finally make a positive difference.
“Anytime I have a chance [to] put the team on my back [by] making plays, I plan to do [it]. They gave me a shot to take advantage of it,” said Bradshaw, a week after publicly criticizing left tackle William Beatty for his spotty play. “My hat goes off to the guys up front. I depend on those guys. They did a heck of a job. We worked hard all week and were successful because of that.”
Lawrence Tynes capped off the drive with a go-ahead 23-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining. The eventual game-winning drive went 76 yards in nine plays, spanning 2:30.
New York’s defense did the rest of the work as they stymied Buffalo (4-2) on their last-gasp effort when Jason Pierre-Paul batted away a Fitzpatrick pass on fourth-and-five from Buffalo’s 25-yard line. Big Blue’s defense overall was admirable considering they were banged up and facing a Bills’ offensive unit that came in averaging 32 points per game. The Giants defense sacked Fitzpatrick three times and didn’t allow a 100-yard receiver.
It was a total team effort, said Pierre-Paul, who had a sack that brought his season total to 7.5 — second in the NFL.
“We had to put pressure on him,” Pierre-Paul said. “He’s a quick pass guy so we had to come up with a gameplan to put pressure on him and make him move out of the pocket. We also practiced all week on getting our hands up and that’s what I did in the last minute when I knocked the ball down.”
Left guard David Diehl was appreciative of the total team win. He said this was just the type of team performance the team can use moving forward. Also, mainstays like Justin Tuck, Chris Snee and Brandon Jacobs figure to return in two weeks — and also the possibility that Prince Amukamara will be arriving soon.
“It’s great because the way things have been going it has been tough sledding,” Diehl said. “Heading into this game we knew what we had to do. We knew we had to get the running game going. It’s a credit to everyone … it’s an awesome feeling [to get to 4-2].”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.