Giants Win to Remain in First Place: With the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys both winning early games today and both improving to 7-6, the pressure was on the Giants to win and stay ahead of both division challengers. The Giants responded with a 52-27 thrashing of the Saints. With the win, the Giants improve to 8-5, still one game ahead of the Redskins and Cowboys.
The Saints actually out-gained the Giants in total net yards (487 to 394), net yards rushing (142 to 135), and net yards passing (345 to 259). But the Saints turned the football over four times while the Giants turned it over twice. And the Giants held a huge advantage in kickoff return yardage (287 to 149). The Giants also performed well in the red zone, scoring four touchdowns in five trips (80 percent).
The game did not start out well for the Giants. After a 59-yard kickoff return by HB David Wilson set the Giants up inside Saints’ territory on the initial possession of the game, the Giants went three-and-out. The Giants got the ball right back when S Will Hill forced a fumble after a long completion. The loose ball was recovered by S Antrel Rolle at the Saints’ 45-yard line. However, five plays later, QB Eli Manning was intercepted by CB Elbert Mack at the Saints’ 27-yard line and Mack returned the pick 73 yards for a defensive score. Saints 7 – Giants 0.
Wilson quickly tied the score, however, by returning the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Wilson returned four kickoffs for 227 yards in the game. Giants 7 – Saints 7.
The Saints turned the ball over again on their second possession. After driving to the Giants’ 48-yard line, Rolle this time forced a fumble that DT Linval Joseph recovered and returned to the Saints’ 35-yard line. Four plays later, Manning hit TE Martellus Bennett for a 6-yard touchdown. Giants 14 – Saints 7.
The Saints and Giants then exchanged punts late in the first quarter. The Saints then drove 81 yards in 14 plays to set up a 32-yard field goal to cut the Giants’ lead to 14-10. Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Saints’ 46-yard line. The Giants managed to reach the Saints’ 17, but PK Lawrence Tynes missed the 36-yard field goal. New Orleans then drove 67 yards in eight plays to set up a 25-yard field goal at the two-minute warning. Giants 14 – Saints 13.
With less than two minutes before the half, Manning led the Giants on a 9-play, 69-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Manning to WR Domenik Hixon. At the half, the Giants led 21-13.
The Giants quickly expanded their lead early in the third quarter. QB Drew Brees was intercepted on the Saints’ first pass of the half as S Stevie Brown picked him off at the New Orleans’ 41-yard line and he returned the interception to the 20. Four plays later, Wilson scored on a 6-yard touchdown run. Giants 28 – Saints 13. After a three-and-out by the Saints, Manning drove the Giants 62 yards in six plays with the drive culminating in a 25-yard touchdown pass to WR Hakeem Nicks. Giants 35 – Saints 13.
But what appeared to be a safe lead disappeared quickly as the Saints scored two touchdowns before the end of the third quarter. First, New Orleans drove 75 yards in three plays to cut the lead to 35-20. Then, after Manning was picked off at the Saints’ 20-yard line and the ball was returned to the Saints’ 32, New Orleans drove 68 yards in six plays to cut the score to 35-27.
WR Jerrel Jernigan then returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the Saints’ 25-yard line. Five plays later, Manning hit WR Victor Cruz for a 10-yard touchdown. Giants 42 – Saints 27. On New Orleans’ ensuing possession, Brees was picked off by Brown again, this time at the Giants’ 8-yard line. Brown returned the ball 70 yards to the Saints’ 22-yard line. The Giants could not pick up a first down and settled for a 39-yard field goal that extended the lead to 45-27.
On the next three possessions, the Saints punted twice and the Giants once. Then with 5:20 to play, Wilson put the game officially to rest when he broke off a 52-yard touchdown run. Giants 52 – Saints 27. The Saints turned the ball over on downs on their final possession and the Giants knelt on the ball to end the game.
Offensively, Manning finishd 22-of-35 for 259 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. His top receivers were Cruz (8 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown), Bennett (5 catches for 32 yards and a touchdown), Nicks (4 catches for 67 yards and a touchdown), and Hixon (3 catches for 30 yards and a touchdown). Wilson carried the ball 13 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Stevie Brown intercepted two passes. Antrel Rolle forced a fumble and recovered one. Will Hill forced a fumble and Linval Joseph recovered a fumble. The only sack came from DE Osi Umenyiora.
David Wilson is the first player in NFL history with at least 200 kickoff return yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game. The Giants set a team record with 287 kickoff return yards in the game (227 by Wilson and 60 by Jerrel Jernigan).
Highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.
Injury Report: CB Prince Amukamara suffered a hamstring injury in the game. HB Ahmad Bradshaw was in and out of the lineup with a knee issue. WR Hakeem Nicks underwent x-rays on his knee but says he is fine.
Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of the following player media Q&As after the game are available at Giants.com:
- QB Eli Manning (Video)
- HB David Wilson (Video)
- WR Hakeem Nicks (Video)
- WR Victor Cruz (Video)
- WR Domenik Hixon (Video)
- DE Justin Tuck (Video)
- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Video)
- S Antrel Rolle (Video)
- S Stevie Brown (Video)
Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were HB Ryan Torain, TE Travis Beckum (knee), TE Adrien Robinson, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Marvin Austin, S Kenny Phillips (knee), and S Tyler Sash (hamstring).
The Giants have had eight non-losing seasons in a row, the team’s longest streak since finishing .500 or better in 10 straight years from 1954-63.
The Giants’ 52 points was their highest total since a 55-24 victory over Green Bay on December 20, 1986.
HB David Wilson has returned 48 kickoffs for 1,321 yards, a 27.5-yard average, this season. The yardage total is a team record, topping WR Domenik Hixon’s 1,291 yards in 2009. Wilson’s 27.5-yard average currently makes him the Giants’ career leader (minimum 40 returns).
S Stevie Brown intercepted two passes, which he returned for 91 yards. That increased his season totals to seven picks and 259 return yards. The seven interceptions are the most by a Giant since 1984, when CB Mark Haynes had seven. Brown’s 259 yards are a single-season franchise record. The former mark of 251 was set by Hall of Famer S Emlen Tunnell in 1949 and matched by CB Dick Lynch in 1963.
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