The Giants suffered an ignominious 36-25 defeat to the lowly Seahawks in a game with its share of twists and turns.
Despite capitalizing on what looked like a turning point early in the fourth quarter, the Giants (3-2) couldn’t overcome another fourth-quarter deficit for the comeback win.
Second-year wideout Victor Cruz suffered the fate of being the hero and goat within a span of 10 minutes, as the Giants’ three-game winning streak came to a halt.
“We had a lot of things that we did poorly,” said cornerback Corey Webster. “We turned over the ball and we left some out there on the field as a defense. We had opportunities to make some plays and we didn’t. We put up a fight but at the end, we didn’t have enough to pull it out.”
All looked destined for Big Blue’s third-consecutive fourth-quarter comeback when Cruz hauled in a desperation Eli Manning pass early in the fourth quarter.
The Giants were down 19-14 with just over 12 minutes remaining when Manning hurled a pass to Cruz. Unfortunately for the Giants, Cruz was double-covered, but somehow managed to corral the jump ball by making an athletic one-handed catch and racing the remaining 25 yards for what was the go-ahead touchdown.
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That was the highlight of Cruz’s day, but the ramifications of his later mistakes are what everyone will remember. The Giants found themselves down 29-25 with two minutes remaining, inside their own 10-yard line, when Cruz bobbled a pass. It was picked off by Brandon Browner and returned 94 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
“I got hit and it got bobbled up in the air and I knew it was all downhill from there because there were two guys around me and I knew one of them was going to pick it off,” Cruz said. “That was the game. There was about a minute and some change left and we potentially could have won the game … it kind of erases [my big statistical day].”
Prior to the pick six, it looked like the Giants were heading for another classic finish in their favor, even with the Seahawks (2-3) making big plays of their own in the fourth quarter. Seattle’s backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst drove the Seahawks 80 yards in seven plays in Seattle’s final scoring drive. It turned out to be the eventual game-winning score. Whitehurst, who came in relief of the injured Tarvaris Jackson midway through the third quarter, engineered an 80-yard drive in seven plays that spanned 2:12, which left the Giants in the precarious position of trying to make another comeback.
But it was all for naught once Cruz’s bobble fell into Browner’s hands to seal their fate. To a man, though, no one is solely blaming Cruz for the defeat as they all acknowledged it was a team affair.
“It is embarrassing as good as we have been playing the last couple weeks to come out here and lay an egg,” defensive end Dave Tollefson said. “It is at home and it is a game that we are not going to get back, especially when they are in our conference … we have to play better than that. Everybody.”
As much as the offense gave away missed opportunities, the defense can’t be let off the hook either. They had six sacks, an interception and knocked out Jackson, but they also allowed a career backup to come to the rescue. It was Whitehurst who coolly led a no-huddle offense to give the Seahawks the 29-25 lead with less than three minutes remaining. He ably subbed in for Jackson by going 11-of-19 for 149 yards and a touchdown in less than a half.
Whitehurst found Doug Baldwin on a wide-open seam route for the go-ahead score — a 27-yard touchdown pass. Whitehurst initially thought the play would be blown dead because Umenyiora got an early jump on the snap count.
“I did notice that. I was afraid they were going to whistle it dead and that’s kind of why I ?got the ball out of my hand real quick. I don’t know if that helped any, but luckily they didn’t [blow the whistle] and we were able to [score],” Whitehurst said, quickly praising Baldwin on the play. “Doug had a huge game. You just kind of read the safety [on the touchdown play]. I think they were favoring Sidney [Rice] a little bit on that play and luckily he was wide open for the touchdown.” ??
The ineptness of New York’s running game was also a storyline, as Ahmad Bradshaw barely reached his paltry per-game average with 58 yards on 17 carries. The loss of Brandon Jacobs, who was inactive with a knee injury, also didn’t help the Giants, as the only other rushers for Big Blue were third-string running back D.J. Ware (four carries, three yards), Manning (five for three) and Cruz (one for three).
The gaudy passing numbers will look great for fantasy football owners, as Manning finished the day 24-of-39 for 420 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. And Cruz led all receivers with eight catches for a career-high 161 yards and a touchdown, but it’s his turnover that will be burned into the minds of the Big Blue faithful for the rest of the season.
Big Blue notes
» Jason Pierre-Paul continued his unblockable ways as he registered 2.5 sacks. Safety Deon Grant and strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka also added a sack apiece to go along with Umenyiora’s 1.5.
» Seattle passers mystified Big Blue’s secondary all afternoon with an efficient performance, mostly from the no-huddle offense. Jackson went 15-of-22 for 166 yards, a touchdown and interception in about one half of work. Whitehurst subbed in for the injured Jackson early in the third quarter and went 11-of-19 for 149 yards and a touchdown. Whitehurst was so lightly used in his career that he came into the game with only 507 career passing yards.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.