Manning 77-yarder to Cruz rallies Giants 27-23

Robert Griffin III came to the New York-metropolitan area and

put on a show. He ran. He threw. He dodged New York Giants’

defenders with breakaway speed and left many shaking their heads

and bemoaning another meeting down the road.

The rookie sensation left something else on the field. A couple

of costly turnovers and way too much time for Eli Manning to pull

off another fourth-quarter comeback.

Manning one-upped RGIII with a pinpoint 77-yard scoring pass to

Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play and the Giants overcame a late

touchdown toss by Griffin to defeat the Washington Redskins 27-23

on Sunday.

”He has done it so many times,” veteran Giants defensive

tackle Chris Canty said after Manning delivered his eighth

fourth-quarter winning drive in less than two seasons. ”He has

really bridged his performance in the 2011 season to the 2012

season. It’s just more of the same. He continues to get better. He

is probably the most deadly quarterback in the fourth

quarter.”

Manning’s pass to Cruz was the longest game-winning touchdown in

the final two minutes in the history of the franchise, which dates

to 1925. It came two plays and 19 seconds after Griffin capped what

was a potential winning, 77-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown

toss to Santana Moss.

The rookie had kept the drive alive with a 19-yard pass off a

desperate scramble on a fourth-and-10 play deep in his own

territory, and a 24-yard run on the next play.

But Manning made one more play in keeping the Giants (5-2) in

first place in the NFC East.

”With our offense and Eli at the helm, we’re never too

worried,” said Cruz, who had seven catches for 131 yards. ”No

matter what situation we’re in, no matter how many points we need

or a field goal we need, we have the confidence we can do it. We

have a lot of confidence in each other, and in Eli.”

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan agreed even though he was miffed

that defensive backs Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams allowed Cruz

to blow by them on the seam pattern.

”He sure proved it today,” Shanahan said after his team (3-4)

blew a chance to move into a first-place tie. ”It was a great

throw. He was double-covered, but (Manning) put it right on the

money.”

Manning, who finished 26 of 40 for 337 yards, had to make the

throw a little sooner than he wanted.

”I kind of threw it high and deep and saw the coverage and was

hoping Victor saw it the same way I did,” he said. ”I didn’t see

the ball get caught. I heard the cheer and that was a good sign. I

got up in time to see him run into the end zone.”

Manning triumphantly pumped his fist once after the play as the

more than 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium erupted with cheers.

”He did a good job leading his team to victory today,” said

Griffin, who ran for 89 yards and passed for 258 and two

touchdowns. ”When the game is on the line, you want the ball in

your hand, no doubt about it. He made the play to win it.”

Griffin had the Redskins moving when Moss was tackled by Chase

Blackburn and fumbled after an 11-yard reception. Rookie Jayron

Hosley recovered at the Washington 43.

”There’s no excuse for them, but with all that stuff, we had a

chance to win at the end,” Griffin said.

The wild finish capped a game in which both quarterbacks also

made major mistakes.

Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown scored on 1-yard runs and

Lawrence Tynes kicked a pair of field goals for the Giants, who won

despite giving up 480 yards in total offense.

Griffin was 20 of 28 with Moss catching both his TD passes.

Fellow rookie Alfred Morris gained 120 yards rushing.

The Giants had 396 yards in total offense, with the biggest

chunk coming on Manning’s pass to Mr. Salsa.

Before the wild finish, the second half was dominated by

turnovers.

Griffin was picked off by safety Stevie Brown and his 41-yard

return late in the third quarter set up Bradshaw’s 1-yard plow-job

into the end zone, a play which was reviewed.

Griffin moved Washington into position to tie the game on the

next possession, but he fumbled after being sacked by Jason

Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph recovered at the Giants 29.

On the next play from scrimmage, linebacker Rob Jackson

intercepted a quick out by Manning and Forbath kicked a 45-yard

field goal to narrow the lead to 20-16 with 5:21 to go.

The Giants were forced to punt on their next series and

Washington got the ball back at its 23. After gaining nothing in

three plays, Griffin went back to pass on fourth down, eluded

Pierre-Paul and then danced around long enough to find tight end

Logan Paulsen for a 19-yard gain and a first down at the 42. The

24-yard scamper got the ball to the New York 34 and two plays later

Moss beat Hosley and hauled in Griffin’s perfect pass as Griffin

lay on his back and celebrated like a snow angel.

”He’s tough,” Blackburn said of Griffin. We played well for

three downs got them into a fourth and 10, and had him. JPP had him

dead to rights. Any other quarterback and he makes that sack.”

Manning and Cruz spoiled the afternoon seconds later.

”I’m pretty mad at the football gods for putting him in the NFC

East,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. ”To face that guy

twice a year is going to be a headache.”

There were seven offensive possessions in the first half that

resulted in 439 total yards, six scores and a 13-13 tie.

NOTES: Washington TE Fred Davis suffered an Achilles tendon

injury and will miss the rest of the season. …Redskins LB London

Fletcher, who has played in 231 straight games, suffered a

leg-hamstring injury in the second half. …The Redskins gained a

season-high 248 yards rushing. … Bradshaw gained 43 yards rushing

after collecting 316 in the past two games. … New York had three

sacks, and allowed its first in four games.