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It has been a few years since the New York Giants and New England Patriots met in the unforgettable Super Bowl XLII, but the bitterness was still there. In a game that was hyped as a duel between Tom Brady and Eli Manning, fans were not disappointed.
Manning watched Brady march down the field for the score to put the Patriots up 20-17 with less than two minutes in the fourth quarter, Manning finished off a drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Ballard with only a few ticks left on the clock to give the Giants the victory at Foxboro Stadium. The win improved their record to 6-2.
“I knew we would win,” Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. “It definitely took me back to the Super Bowl.” Just like the Super Bowl, when Manning found David Tyree over the middle for the most improbable catch by an unknown receiver, Manning found Ballard for a 28-yard gain in which he leaped up and caught it through two Patriot defenders.
“If it was thrown anywhere else, I wouldn’t have caught it,” Ballard said. “You dream about making catches like that.” And just to add to the eeriness of the drive, Ballard wears 85. That’s the same number worn by Tyree that season. “I’d rather be down by three with a minute-thirty [left] than up by four with a minute-thirty with Tom Brady, with their offense on the field,” Manning said.
“You like those situations where you have an opportunity to go win the game.” Spoken like an elite quarterback, Manning got the chance to win it and came through. He had another good game, going 20 of 39 for 250 yards two touchdowns and one interception. This was a big win keeping the Giants two games ahead of the Dallas Cowboys who beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
The Patriots fall to 5-3 and, more importantly, fall into a three-way tie for the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, whom they face next week for AFC East supremacy. “We’ve got half the season to go,” Brady said. “We’ll see what our team’s made of this week.”
The loss ended two very impressive streaks: 20 regular season home game wins for the Patriots and 31 straight regular season home wins for Brady. At one point, it looked like the Patriots were going to win behind a Brady comeback when he connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 14-yard score to put the Patriots up 20-17 with a minute and a half left.
The key play was a 20-yard pass interference call on Sergio Brown that put the Giants on the one-yard line with 30 seconds left. “I was looking at the ball the whole time,” Brown said. “I was surprised. They come and tell us as long as we’re looking at the ball, we can play the ball.”
Manning found Ballard in the end zone for the win three plays after that. All points were scored in the second half as the game was deadlocked at 0-0 going into the half. The Giants took a 10-0 lead on a 10-yard Jacobs run. The Patriots responded with 13 unanswered points, and Stephen Gostkowski made a 45 yard field goal to put the Patriots up 13-10.
Manning answered that with a 85-yard drive capped by a Mario Manningham 10-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left. The Giants defense came up big and helped the offense overcome injuries to center David Bass, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. They got to Brady twice, and forced two picks as well as a fumble.
Brady finished the day 28 of 49 for 342 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a fumble. At one point the fans started booing after Brady threw an incompletion on third down. They cheered up quickly as Aaron Ross muffed a punt on the next play that the Patriots recovered.
The Patriots had scoring opportunities, but an interception by Brady and a missed 27-yard field goal left them with zero points in the first half. The Giants face another tough test as they head west to face off with the San Francisco 49ers and the Patriots travel to MetLife Stadium to face the New York Jets.
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