Thomas, Brown Help G-Men Get a Leg Up on Raidersby Jon Wagner / SNYGiants columnist
The New York Giants have yet to play well in any game this season. But earning three games back (via ugly wins) from a season-starting, six-game losing streak looks beautiful. As did an updated version of New York’s white pants, which made an appearance for the first time since 1999.
In a rather strange game that made each team 3-6, the Giants came off of their bye week and again found a way to win, beating the Oakland Raiders, 24-20, at MetLife Stadium.
Although neither team racked up much offense (Oakland had just 213 total yards; New York, 251), with each club barely going over 100 passing yards, big plays on special teams and by each team’s secondary helped to account for considerably more points than would have been scored otherwise.
Having running back Andre Brown (30 carries, 115 yards, one touchdown) play his first game of the season after returning from a broken leg in the Giants’ preseason finale helped New York control the ball for 32 minutes, including 11:42 in the final quarter.
Brown also provided what proved to be the game-winning score, on a one-yard touchdown run, following a third-quarter interception by cornerback Terrell Thomas, who came back from another of his own leg injuries this year (he’s overcome ACL injuries three different times since being drafted by the Giants in 2008).
Thomas’ pick was one of two Raiders turnovers which helped the Giants get past the three times they gave up the ball.
It didn’t take long for New York’s first turnover, which came on the opening kickoff, when Jerrell Jernigan fumbled and Andre Holmes brought the ball back 22 yards to the Giants’ 5-yard line.
Quarterback Terrell Pryor (11-for-26, 122 yards, one interception, one rushing touchdown) scored on a one-yard run two plays later, to give Oakland a 7-0 lead just 52 seconds into the game.
New York quickly got even with the help of two rookies, though, as after a Giants three-and-out and the Raiders then moving 21 yards but stalling at their own 48-yard line, Damontre Moore blocked a punt that was picked up and returned 21 yards by Cooper Taylor for a game-tying touchdown.
Two Oakland possessions later, the Raiders took over at the Giants’ 21-yard line following a fumble by RB Peyton Hillis after catching a short pass from Eli Manning (12-for-22, 140 yards, one touchdown, one interceptions), but New York’s defense allowed only a 33-yard field goal by kicker Sebastian Janikowski that put Oakland up, 10-7, late in the first quarter.
After each team traded punts, the Giants embarked on the game’s best drive, while effectively mixing the run and pass to go 90 yards on 11 plays, in 6:22, with Manning giving New York its first lead, 14-10, on a five-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Rueben Randle (three catches, 50 yards, one touchdown)
On their next possession, the Giants, backed up at their own 3-yard line, got some breathing room on a 25-yard completion from Manning to Randle, to the New York 37-yard line.
Manning, though, looking for wide receiver Victor Cruz (three catches, 37 yards), threw a bad pass cornerback Tracy Porter picked off and took 43 yards the other way to regain the lead for the Raiders, 17-14, with 1:18 left in the half.
Oakland came out in the third quarter, and held onto the ball for 8:04, during a 14-play, 74-yard drive that went as far as the Giants’ 6-yard line before Janikowski booted a 24-yard field goal to extend the Raiders’ lead to 20-14.
Another New York three-and-out ended with only a 27-yard punt by punter Steve Weatherford that gave Oakland great field position at the Giants’ 48-yard line, but after the Raiders moved 11 yards further, Pryor was intercepted by Thomas, who went 65 yards to the Oakland 5-yard line.
From there, Brown gained four yards on first down, and two plays later, scored from the 1-yard line to put New York ahead for good, 21-20, late in the third quarter.
A Raiders punt ensued, and then Manning moved the Giants 70 yards on 13 plays, with the help of a 25-yard completion to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (four catches, 49 yards), and a 15-yard hookup with Cruz, to kicker Josh Brown up for a 23-yard field goal that increased New York’s lead to 24-20, with 8:04 left.
Each team then went three-and-out, as a Weatherford punt meant to pin the Raiders deep in their own end, was partially blocked, and went just eight yards, to the Oakland 33-yard line.
Pryor was sacked twice on the Raiders’ next drive though, with the second of those take-downs, by defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (five tackles) at the Oakland 45-yard line, with 3:21 remaining.
With two first down runs, Brown made sure the Raiders wouldn’t see the ball again.
And after the Dallas Cowboys were blown out in New Orleans on Sunday Night Football, the Giants (tied with the 3-6 Washington Redskins for third place in the division) moved to within just 1½ games of first place in the NFC East, behind Dallas and the Philadelphia Eagles, who are each 5-5.
Halfway back from its 0-6 start, New York will try to keep its momentum going next Sunday, during the middle game of a season-long three-game home stand, against the 5-4 Green Bay Packers.