Manning Stages Another Comeback in 24-20 win

The Giants went into Gillette Stadium undermanned and, at least in the scoreless first half, under-offensed. But Eli Manning staged a fifth fourth-quarter comeback, the 19th of his career, to win 24-20 and give the Giants a two-game cushion in the NFC East lead.

Six wins.

Five fourth-quarter comebacks.

A 6-2 record and a two-game cushion atop the NFC East.

Just goes to show you that the Giants indeed have enough depth to beat the big boys. All they did Sunday was walk into Gillette Stadium, a place where Tom Brady hadn't lost in 20 regular season games, without Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, and David Baas, and beat the Patriots 24-20 on yet another comeback win by Eli Manning.

It wasn't smooth, by any means. But the Giants proved through Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden, and Brandon Jacobs that the offense can stand the heat of top-flight competition. And now, assuming Bradshaw and Nicks will be back for San Francisco next week, they can look at that game as clearly winnable after the 49ers cruised past the disintegrating Redskins 19-11.

Having hit the midpoint of the schedule, is another second-half swoon coming? After this win, the NFC's first in 18 tries at Gillette since 2002, one would have to wonder. Injuries don't seem to affect the Giants, despite the multitude they seemingly face weekly.

Here's the good and bad of the game.


ELI MANNING: He's not ranked as the top fourth-quarter passer for nothing. Manning threw two touchdown passes in the last 3:03, one to Mario Manningham and one to tight end Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left on a risky play-action toss. Manning went 8-for-13 in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns, but just as important were the two huge pass interference callls he created on the touchdown drives.

FIRST HALF DEFENSE: They pressured Tom Brady and made a nice stop on the drive at the end of the half thanks to Justin Tuck's batted pass at the Giants' 11. Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack deep in Patriots territory, and the defense as a whole held the Pats to 2-oof-7 on third-down conversions in the first scoreless first half in the NFL this year.

PASS DEFENSE: Credit LB Michael Boley with helping out Mathias Kiwanuka on his interception with a tip of Tom Brady's throw in the second quarter. But S Deon Grant did it all himself on Brady's second interception in the third quarter.

JAKE BALLARD: The tight end continues to impress, this time with a 30-yard catch that set up the first points of the game, a 22-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes and a nice, 1-yard grab in the corner of the end zone for the game-winner. That was Ballard's third touchdown of the season.

OPPORTUNISM: The Giants turned over Brady twice in the second half on Grant's pick and Boley's strip-sack, and came away with 10 points out of them.

MICHAEL BOLEY: Ten tackles, a sack, a forced fumble. Not a bad day all around. But take points away from him for not defending tight end Rob Gronkowski on his go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

RAMSES BARDEN: He stepped in as Hakeem Nicks sat and made a key 9-yard catch in the Giants' winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.


Kareem McKenzie: The right tackle got called on a ticky-tack hold to stop a drive in the second quarter.

FIRST HALF OFFENSE: The Giants were 1-of-7 on third down, but Brandon Jacobs showed signs of breaking out with 31 yards on eight carries. Still, can't have reserve center Kevin Boothe dribbling shotgun snaps or delivering it high as he did in the fourth quarter to cause a Manning misfire.

Aaron Ross: His third-quarter muff of a punt set the Pats up at the Giants' 33 for a field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.

RED ZONE OFFENSE: Just after unheralded Spencer Payzinger gave the Giants a fumbled punt recovery on the New England 40, Manning got the team to the Pats' 2, only to be initially undone by a horrible delay of game call, and then by a bad decision by Manning that wound up as Kyle Arrington's end zone interception. A touchdown there, or even a field goal, would have made it a two-score game. Instead, the Pats rolled won the field for a tying touchdown by Aaron Hernandez in the fourth quarter.

LATE GAME DEFENSE: It's fine to play prevent with a four-point lead, but they had to be thinking the ball was going to Gronkowski for the go-ahead score in the fourth after Brady tried him twice in a row. Boley was left alone to cover him because S Kenny Phillips had moved toward the sideline.

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