After throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble, Eli Manning remained poised and completed seven-of-nine passes for 95 yards, five first downs and a touchdown during the Giants' last two drives. After escaping the grasp of LDE Adewale Ogunleye, Manning should've thrown the ball away and settled for a 19-yard FG attempt by K Lawrence Tynes. Three points would've brought the Giants, down 16-7, within one score, but Manning didn't get enough lift on his throw to leaping WR Plaxico Burress in the back corner of the end zone and LCB Charles Tillman intercepted it. Bottom Line: The comeback made Manning's week bearable.
FB Madison Hedgecock sealed off SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer near the line of scrimmage to spring RB Derrick Ward for his 31-yard run through the left side early in the second quarter. The big gain moved the Giants to Chicago's 1 and Ward scored a two-yard touchdown three plays later. Hedgecock skillfully disguised a crucial hold of MLB Brian Urlacher's jersey to completely clear the right side of the field for RB Reuben Droughns' nine-yard run on a fourth-and-one play from Chicago's 34 late in the third quarter. Bottom Line: Ward was sensational before he got hurt.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
WR Amani Toomer demonstrated tremendous coordination when, sliding backward, he got both of his arms underneath Manning's low, short pass into the end zone. A successful replay challenge showed the ball bounced up off Toomer's arms, not the turf, and his six-yard touchdown reception helped get the Giants within two points (16-14), with just 6:54 left in the game. WR David Tyree slipped Hillenmeyer's tackle attempt and added another eight yards for a 24-yard catch that moved the Giants to Chicago's 17 on the drive that resulted in Droughns' game-winning, two-yard touchdown run with 1:33 left in the game. Bottom Line: Why won't they sit Plaxico Burress and let him heal?
RT Kareem McKenzie prevented penetration from NT Anthony Adams, which caused congestion on the right side of the line of scrimmage and allowed Droughns to run into the end zone untouched for the game-winning score. Bottom Line: Manning was kept relatively clean and Ward ran for 154 yards.
RT Justin Tuck showed power in shoving 318-pound LG Terrence Metcalf out of the way, and then exploded up the middle to drop QB Rex Grossman for a nine-yard half-sack on a pivotal third-and-three play from Chicago's 47 with about 5:25 left in the game. Tuck's sack gave the Giants the ball back and they scored the go-ahead touchdown on that drive. Bottom Line: Five first-half sacks helped keep the game close (13-7 at halftime).
Blitzing up the middle, WLB Kawika Mitchell blew by RB Adrian Peterson and helped Tuck tackle Grossman for that aforementioned nine-yard sack in the fourth quarter. MLB Antonio Pierce was late getting back in coverage and fell down, which left TE Desmond Clark wide open for a one-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 9:58 left in the first quarter. Bottom Line: Clark did too much damage down the middle of the field (four more catches, 75 yards).
SS James Butler, who was partially responsible for Muhsin Muhammad's 20-yard catch on fourth-and-15 four plays earlier, jumped over WR Devin Hester to bat down Grossman's final fling to the end zone on the last play of the game. LCB Kevin Dockery was positioned perfectly to leap and bat away Grossman's throw to the taller Muhammad near the back of the end zone on the next-to-last play of the game. Bottom Line: Chicago's wideouts accounted for only 131 receiving yards.
K Lawrence Tynes shanked two more kickoffs out of bounds, but at least those mistakes kept Hester from returning the ball. He only gained 19 yards on the one kickoff he returned. The punt coverage unit was effective against Hester too, as he didn't bring back any of the three Jeff Feagles punts he returned more than eight yards. But apart from Ahmad Bradshaw's 24-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, Bradshaw and Droughns averaged an unacceptable 16 yards on three kickoffs. Bottom Line: Hester didn't score a touchdown.
The evidence might not have seemed indisputable, but Tom Coughlin's challenge of Toomer's touchdown catch was largely responsible for avoiding a second straight defeat. Their confidence in the seldom-used Tyree paid dividends on the victory-clinching drive (two catches, 32 yards, two first downs). Bottom Line: They gained ground in the NFC race.
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