Rapid Reaction: Giants 52, Saints 27
December, 9, 2012
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- With the Redskins and Cowboys breathing down their necks, the New York Giants held on to their division lead by crushing the Saints 52-27.
What it means: The Redskins and Cowboys both won in dramatic fashion just before the Giants kicked off against the Saints.
But instead of feeling the pressure, the Giants heeded Antrel Rolle's plea to play nastier and bring a dog mentality onto the field. They responded by forcing four turnovers on defense and building a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Saints closed to within 35-27 late in the third, but Eli Manning answered with a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz to open the fourth.
Now the Giants go into the final three games clinging to a one-game lead in the division but looking a lot more explosive and potent. The Giants just have to show they can be consistent and quit the roller-coaster weekly act.
Eli bounces back: Manning got off to a shaky start, throwing a 73-yard pick-six in the first quarter. He would later throw another interception, but he had his most productive day of the season with a season-high four touchdowns.
He still looks uncharacteristically off on some of his throws like his interceptions and when he underthrew Cruz on one completion. But he came through in the red zone when the Giants needed it most, and the offense looked prolific again.
David is Goliath: David Wilson has been saying all season he is going to finally break a kickoff return for a touchdown. That day came on Sunday, when he returned one 97 yards in the first quarter.
But he was a monster overall. He scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one on return. And he broke 100 yards for the first time in his career with Ahmad Bradshaw in and out due to a knee issue. He set a franchise record with 327 all-purpose yards.
On Wilson's first kickoff return, he went 58 yards to put the Giants at the Saints’ 44. He also had a 52-yard return in the second quarter to set the team’s franchise record for kickoff-return yards. Jerrel Jernigan even got into the act with a 60-yard return on a short kickoff designed to avoid Wilson near the end of the third quarter.
But Wilson didn’t stop at just kickoffs. He scored on a 6-yard touchdown run early in the second half to put the Giants up 28-13, and he picked up the slack in the running game in the fourth quarter with Bradshaw resting. He busted a 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth while the Giants were trying to run out the clock.
Safety dance: Kenny Phillips was inactive thanks to a knee injury, but the Giants' safeties still made big plays.
Will Hill, who came in when the Giants used their three-safety look, combined with Stevie Brown to jar the ball loose from Marques Colston early in the first quarter. Rolle recovered.
Then later in the quarter, Rolle forced a fumble by Jed Collins and Linval Joseph recovered and returned it 16 yards to help set up the Giants’ second touchdown of the game to go up 14-7.
Brown also came up with two big interceptions that led to 10 points for the Giants.
What’s next: The Giants travel to Atlanta to face Matt Ryan and the Falcons, who lost on Sunday for only the second time this season, falling 30-20 to Carolina.