David Wilson didn’t do much for the Giants through the first 12 games of the season, but he came up with an big one in lucky number 13 to help the team stay on top of the NFC East.
Wilson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, had a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and put the final touches on a 52-27 win over the Saints with a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter. Wilson also chipped in a couple of other long kickoff returns to help keep the Giants in fine field position — they had seven drives start in New Orleans territory — all day on their way to the win.
Wilson, who finished with 327 all purpose yards and 100 rushing yards, wasn’t the only guy coming up with big returns. Jerrel Jernigan had a 60-yard kickoff return, Stevie Brown flipped the field on one of his two interceptions and the Giants rolled up more than 400 yards on all of their returns (there were two fumbles and two punts as well) during the day. That left the Giants offense without much heavy lifting to do, but they handled a limited workload awfully well.
Eli Manning threw four touchdowns to four different receivers, making up for a couple of bad interceptions. His first pick went for a touchdown and the second helped the Saints score 14 quick points to close the gap from 35-13 to 35-27 in the third quarter. Jernigan’s return set them up with a short field and Manning turned it into a 10-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Drew Brees threw his second pick at the Giants’ 8 on the next drive and the lead was back up to 18 points after a Lawrence Tynes field goal.
The Saints offense performed well enough until that second Brees pick, but the four turnovers left a lot of points on the field and there wasn’t any fight left in the visitors at that point. Without any hopes of the playoffs still alive in New Orleans, the rest of the year will be about finding out which current defenders will stick around for 2013 and beyond.
As for the Giants, not much changes for them. The win means they remain on top of the NFC East, but the Cowboys and Redskins remain on their heels and in control of tiebreakers after their dramatic wins on Sunday. They’ll need to keep rolling in Atlanta next weekend to maintain control of their own destiny this season.