Through the first eight weeks of the 2013 season, the New York Giants had only one running back eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game. Brandon Jacobs pounded his way to 106 rushing yards against a Chicago Bears‘ defense that was without its two starting defensive tackles. Nevertheless, he got there. And he was the only one.
Until last Sunday.
Andre Brown stamped an exclamation point on his season debut, carrying the ball 30 times for 115 yards and one touchdown. Eli Manning‘s passing struggles trickled into yet another game and Brown was forced to put the team on his back in his first game action since Nov. 25 of last year.
Brown missed the first eight weeks of the year after being placed on the injured reserve way back in the preseason. The fifth-year running back fractured his left leg in a preseason game, which is the same leg that he broke last year. His injury a season ago forced him to miss the remaining six games of the season.
The Giants’ initial plan was to use Brown as a complementary back to starter David Wilson. The latter fumbled twice in the opener, and just a few weeks later, as Wilson seemed to be finding a groove, he suffered a season-ending neck injury.
New York did their best to mix and match, re-signing Jacobs, and then signing Peyton Hillis when Jacobs went down. For two-straight weeks, Hillis and rookie Michael Cox handled the load. The duo wasn’t flashy and didn’t do anything spectacular, but they certainly got the job done. In New York’s first two wins, Hillis compiled 106 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards and one touchdown.
The Giants were thrilled to get that kind of production from Hillis, but these are not the numbers of a running back who controls a game on the ground.
On Sunday, Brown took over the game with his legs, coming up huge in a game where Manning and the passing attack was struggling yet again. New York simply continued to feed the beast and Brown made sure it paid off.
Now that the Giants have a respectable running game, it’s time for Manning to find a groove. If he can get on the same page as the wide receivers, this offense will start clicking on all cylinders.