For a change, the New York Giants didn’t have to rely solely on Eli Manning’s arm. They are heading into the bye week with hope, now that they’ve found a running game.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran for season-high 104 yards and a career-best three touchdowns and Lawrence Tynes kicked a go-ahead 23-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining to give the New York Giants a 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
The win sent the Giants (4-2) into their vacation in first place in the NFC East, but knowing they have games against New England, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay and the Jets in their final 10-game stretch.
”This is a huge win for us,” guard David Diehl said. ”Coming into this game, we had a lot of things on our minds, with No. 1 being getting the run game going. Ahmad had a huge game for us, over 100 yards, three touchdowns and he ran hard all game. The other thing was we constantly said all week we can’t turn the ball over against this team. This was a team scoring 14 points a game off turnovers. We wanted to control the ball.”
New York was perfect on both fronts.
Bradshaw become the first Giants’ back to gain 100 yards this season, scoring each time from a yard out. His game-high 30-yard run on a little misdirecton play – three plays after Corey Webster’s second interception of the game – set up Tynes’ winner and allowed the Giants to rebound from a bad loss to Seattle.
”Anytime I have a chance, I want to put the team on the back and make plays, and that’s what I plan to do anytime I do get a shot,” said Bradshaw, who had career-high 88-yard TD run against Buffalo in their last meeting in 2007, sealing a playoff berth in a season New York won the Super Bowl. ”We worked hard all week and we were successful today.”
A big part of the success has to go to Manning. He loosened up the defense, completing 21 of 32 for 292 yards and no interceptions against the ballhawking Bills, who came in with 12 interceptions and a league-best plus-11 on turnovers.
New York didn’t cough the ball up once.
”We feel we’re in a good spot, and we made progress offensively,” Manning said. ”We can’t afford to make mistakes like we did last week, and the guys took that to heart.”
The defense, which gave up two long first-half touchdowns, also stepped up, limiting the high-scoring Bills to seven second-half points. Both of Webster’s picks came in the final half.
”We just kept fighting and scrapping and in the fourth quarter we picked up the win,” Webster said. ”We just persevered after the big plays. You hate to put yourself behind the 8-ball, but we kept fighting.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick was 21 of 30 for 244 yards and threw touchdown passes of 60 yards to Naaman Roosevelt and 9 yards to Stevie Johnson. However, the Bills quarterback had the only two turnovers in the game and his final attempt was batted down by Jason Pierre-Paul on a fourth-and-5 from the Bills 25 to preserve the win.
”This is one of the hardest parts of playing quarterback, when you don’t get the job done,” Fitzpatrick said. ”The two interceptions I threw, you couldn’t ask for better coverage, you couldn’t ask for a better play, couldn’t ask for a better route. They were both basically the same thing, Stevie on a go route. I’d like to give credit to Corey Webster, he made plays on both of them. That said, I feel like Stevie beat him and I underthrew both of them.”
Fred Jackson had another monster game for Buffalo, rushing for 121 yards, including a career-high 80-yard TD run. He also caught five passes for 47 yards.
After tying the game on the 9-yard pass to Johnson, Buffalo appeared in position to take the lead when Fitzpatrick completed a 32-yard pass to David Nelson for a first down at the New York 27.
However, he went for the lead on a go-pattern to Johnson down the left sideline and Webster was all over it, intercepting at the 5. Johnson was called for a very flagrant facemask, giving New York the ball at its own 20.
”It’s always good winning going into the bye week,” Webster said. ”We got a ‘W’ instead of an ‘L.’ We’ve still got mistakes that have to be corrected, but at least we’ve started to move in the right direction now.”
Bradshaw had a 10-yard run on first down and then ripped off his 30-yarder around left end two plays later for a first down at the Bills 37. Two pass interference penalties against Drayton Florence eventually got New York a first and goal and Tynes, who had a 26-yard field goal in the first half, kicked another short one.
The Giants had a chance to take a 14-point lead late in the third quarter when Manning hit Mario Manningham in stride on a pass from the Bills 37, but the receiver failed to complete the reception after hitting the end zone.
The pass was ruled incomplete. The Giants challenged and lost.
When the drive stalled, Tynes’ 51-yard field-goal attempt to put the Giants up by 10 was blocked by Alex Carrington.
Buffalo took over at its 40, overcame a second-and-20 after a sack by Osi Umenyiora and tied it on Fitzpatrick’s 9-yard TD pass to Johnson with 8:57 to play.
New York had taken 24-17 lead with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that Bradshaw capped after a review ruled that Manningham did not score on a pass reception from the 7 that had originally been ruled a touchdown.
The first half, which ended tied at 17, was mixture of the Bills’ big-play offense and the Giants’ more methodical approach.
Bradshaw scored on a pair of 1-yard runs for the Giants and the Bills got touchdowns on Jackson’s long run – just one play from scrimmage after Bradshaw’s first TD – and a 60-yard catch and run by Roosevelt, his first career TD.
Tynes kicked a 26-yard field goal for the Giants, while Rian Lindell had a 49-yarder for the Bills with 24 seconds left in the half.
Bradshaw had given the Giants the lead on the previous possession, scoring just two plays after Manning hit Hakeem Nicks on a 60-yard pass down the left sideline, New York’s biggest play of the half.
Notes: Jackson has rushed for 100 yards in four of six games and now has 11 in his career. His 80-yard TD run tied for the fourth-longest in Bills’ history and was the longest run since Thurman Thomas scored from 80 in 1990. … Buffalo has scored at least 20 points in six straight games this season, their longest run since 2006. … G Chris Snee had a streak of 101 straight starts snapped when he missed the game with a concussion. … Giants DE Justin Tuck said after the game he intended to play after the bye week. He has missed three straight games with neck and groin injuries.