In the span of about five minutes, the New York Giants watched their division lead grow thin. The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys each pulled off incredible come-from-behind wins, finishing them off with walk-off field goals. They each improved to 7-6, and the Giants were staring third place in the face if they lost to the New Orleans Saints.
Though it looked ugly at times (like the Giants only scoring one time despite starting their first four drives no worse than their own 40-yard line), the Giants responded by hammering the Saints 52-27, scoring 31 points after the break.
They used turnovers, great returns and a good game from Eli Manning to keep their division lead at one game with three to play. This was the first time the Giants have scored more than 50 points since the 1986 season. Does that year sound familiar? It should, because that’s the year the Giants won their first Super Bowl. A sign of things to come?
The Giants had great return after great return. Rookie running back David Wilson racked up an incredible 327 all-purpose yards, setting a franchise record. He is the first player in NFL history with at least 200 return yards and 100 rushing yards. The explosive back finally came through in a big way, and it meant so much more with Ahmad Bradshaw struggling with a knee injury. Wilson finished with three total touchdowns.
Even Jerrel Jernigan got into the mix with a 60-yard return, which is rendered that much better knowing the kick was aimed to keep the ball away from Wilson.
The defense forced four turnovers that led to 17 points and ended up being the difference in the game. Stevie Brown is proving to be one of the most underrated off-season signings, recording his sixth and seventh interception in this game. If it weren’t for Richard Sherman having a whale of a game for the Seattle Seahawks, Brown could have earned his second NFC Player of the Week honors.
With the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons—both on the road—up next, the Giants could ill-afford to drop today’s game. They responded with the biggest offensive explosion in the Tom Coughin era. Though it came against one of the league’s worst defenses, you cannot ignore the fact that Drew Brees was previously 5-0 in his career against the Giants. Today’s game required a herculean effort from the offense and they delivered.
The Giants have to win out and remove all doubt. They cannot expect things to fall in place the way they did last season. I’d be shocked if 9-7 was enough to qualify for the playoffs in 2012. The way I see it, win two of out the next three and they make it. Can they respond positively with their destiny in their own hands?