At halftime, it looked like the Giants and Patriots might struggle to score any points at all.
By the end of the fourth quarter, you had to wonder if there wasn’t some way to keep the game going so the two offenses could keep going at it. The two teams combined for 31 points in the final quarter, 21 of them in the final three minutes, of what turned into the kind of elite quarterback showcase many people thought it would be all week. And in the end, it was Eli Manning over Tom Brady once again.
Manning hit Jake Ballard for a one-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left on the clock to give the Giants a 24-20 victory. It is the fifth time this season that Manning has brought the Giants to a win when they were trailing in the fourth quarter and this one was the most impressive because he did it twice. Manning threw a touchdown to Mario Manningham with 3:03 to play to put the Giants up 17-13, but Manningham got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while celebrating the score that handed the Patriots a short field.
Brady moved down that short field for a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski and, for a moment, it looked like he’d come out of an awful day with a victory. Brady threw three interceptions, could have had a couple of other passes picked and looked out of sync all day long. The Giants defense had a great plan of attack all afternoon, even if Brady seemed to finally figure out a way to move the ball in the final quarter.
That’s two straight losses for the Patriots and three straight games where their offense has spent long portions of the day struggling to move down the field. They’ve now got a trip to Jersey to face the resurgent Jets next week and the AFC East lead is going to be on the line as a result of today’s loss. Their defense looked better for a large portion of Sunday, but it certainly seems like teams have discovered a way to slow down Brady and the offense.
We’re still waiting for someone to figure out how to slow down Manning in the fourth quarter. Without three offensive starters, Manning struggled early but came through late. The final drive featured some great throws, a timely scramble and a little help from Sergio Brown’s pass interference on Victor Cruz near the goal line. That gave Manning a shot to win the game and that’s all he needs these days.
The Giants are now 6-2, with a huge win to start a critical stretch of schedule that continues with a trip to San Francisco next week. They are two games up on the Cowboys and at least that many up on the Eagles after this win, though, and that means they have a little more margin for error thanks to Manning’s heroics.