Giants win 4th straight; Packers fading

A little more than five weeks ago, the New York Giants’ season
looked over.

They had played six games and failed to win. They were the worst
team in the NFL, or at least had a share of that unwanted
distinction.

Fast forward to the middle of November, and Tom Coughlin’s team
is back in the hunt.

New York (4-6) won its fourth straight game on Sunday, defeating
the reeling Green Bay Packers 27-13 with defensive end Jason
Pierre-Paul icing the game with a leaping 24-yard interception
return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

The decision left the Giants (4-6) just 1 1/2 games behind
NFC-East leader Philadelphia (6-5), and within a game of Dallas
(5-5) in the division. The idle Cowboys are scheduled to play at
MetLife Stadium next Sunday.

”Playing the Cowboys is always good. That’s one of the
opponents I love to play more than anybody in the National Football
League,” said running back Brandon Jacobs, who scored on a 1-yard
run.

”It means something to our football team. We’ve been on a roll,
ripped off four straight, and we’re looking forward to keep it
going. We know we have a tough Dallas team coming in here next
week, that’s coming to break that streak.”

While the Giants are making an unexpected move, the Packers
(5-5) are sliding in the wake of an injury quarterback Aaron
Rodgers. They have lost three in a row since Rodgers broke his
collarbone against the Bears a little more than two weeks ago. It
is their longest skid since losing five straight near the end of
the 2008 season and it has left them a game behind Chicago and
Detroit in the NFC North.

Green Bay will play Minnesota next weekend. It’s not clear
whether Rodgers will be ready to go or Mike McCarthy will have to
go again with Scott Tolzien, who was 24 of 34 for 339 yards and
three interceptions in his first start.

”You should never hit the panic button,” said Packers receiver
Jordy Nelson, who had eight catches for 117 yards. ”Whenever you
lose your starting quarterback, it’s gonna be tough. The thing is,
we’ve had opportunities in all these games to make a play and get
the win. We’re close. We just need to finish these things out, if
it’s the drives individually or the game as a whole. Get a win. We
just need a win.”

The Giants probably can’t afford a loss the rest of the way if
they want to make the playoffs, while the Packers have room for
maybe one.

New York never trailed after Eli Manning hit Rueben Randle with
a 26-yard scoring pass in the first quarter.

Mason Crosby kicked field goals of 24 and 57 yards – the second
longest in Packers’ history – and Eddie Lacy scored on a 1-yard
run, cutting the lead to 20-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Pierre-Paul, who was iffy for the game after hurting his
shoulder against Oakland last week, clinched the win with his
spectacular, two-handed interception of a quick out pass by
Tolzien.

”I read the formation, the tight end, how he was set, and I
caught the ball,” said Pierre-Paul. who told teammates in the
huddle before the play that he was going to pick the pass.

Fellow defensive end Justin Tuck didn’t even run to celebrate
the play with Pierre-Paul.

”If you could have looked at me, my face would have probably
looked something like this because he literally called it and
executed,” Tuck said. ”I don’t know if he’s voodoo, psychic, I
don’t know but that’s something I’ve never seen before.”

Five things learned in the Giants’ second win over the Packers
in as many years:

GIANTS DEFENSE: Perry Fewell’s guys have given up just two TDs
in the four-game winning streak. Once again, they stopped the run.
Lacy, who was leading the NFL with 618 yards rushing since Oct. 1,
was held to 27 on 14 carries. The defense intercepted three passes
– Antrel Rolle and Jon Beason had the others – in a game for the
first time since last season.

TOLZIEN PERFORMANCE: While he threw three interceptions and
didn’t have a touchdown, Tolzien made some impressive throws. He
had 10 passes of more than 15 yards, including five of more than 25
yards. His long was a 52-yarder to Jarrett Boykin.

MANNING MISHAP: Manning threw his 17th interception of the
season when Tramon Williams made a diving interception of a pass to
Louis Murphy. It spoiled a 74-yard drive that started at the New
York 11. Like so many of his picks this season, it was the result
of bad communication. Murphy broke the pattern inside and Manning
threw to the outside. After the play, Manning got in Murphy’s face
on the sideline.

MR JONES: Linebacker Brad Jones was by far the leader of the
Packers defense. He had a team-high 13 tackles, including three for
losses, and a sack. The much-more publicized Clay Matthews was
somewhat invisible. He had four tackles and sack.

DOWN THE ROAD: Of their final six games, the Giants have only
two against teams with winning records – Seattle (10-1) and Detroit
(6-4). Besides Dallas, the others are against San Diego (4-6) and
two with Washington (3-7). The Packers have Minnesota (2-8),
Detroit (6-4), Atlanta (2-8), Dallas, Pittsburgh (4-6) and Chicago
(6-4).

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org