May 21, 2022

Giants Start Slow Finish Fast

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin Photo Credit: Alexis Williams/What's The 411 Networks

East Rutherford, NJ - It's not the way the New York Giants wanted to start against the lowly, winless (0-4) Cleveland Browns. After winning the coin toss, Big Blue coughs up the ball as running Ahmad Bradshaw gets hit by his own lineman Chris Snee.

Said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin of the play, "when you look at the tape, it was a little more freakish than you think."

Two plays later, Trent Richardson runs 15 yards for the touchdown. The next time Cleveland touches the ball, rookie QB Brandon Weeden finds wide receiver Josh Gordon as he runs right past Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn for the 62-yard touchdown. First, safety Stevie Brown creeps towards the line of scrimmage anticipating a run play, then the other safety Antrel Rolle was late helping out in the coverage. Blackburn could not catch up with Gordon. Before the 79,911 sold out crowd could get settled, the home team trailed 14-0.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning would cut the lead in half (14-7) after taking the team on an 11-play, 92-yard drive ending in a three-yard touchdown pass to Victor (Salsa) Cruz. Manning completed six passes for 61 yards. Cleveland also contributed to the drive with a 13-yard pass interference penalty. The Browns extended the lead (17-7) on a 32-yard Phil Dawson field goal. New York used its next long drive to put more points on the board but could only come away with a Lawrence Tynes 29-yard field goal cutting the Browns lead to seven (17-10) and Manning's last pass falling incomplete to receiver Rueben Randle.

The Giants defense had given up 156 yards in the air to Weeden and 56 yards on the ground by Richardson to start the game. Cleveland was looking to add to those stats and extend the lead as they moved down to the Giants 25 yard line. That's when the defense came up with a big play. Weeden overthrows Gordon into the hands of Brown who returns the pick 26 yards. Manning then finds Randle on a deep pass for 36 yards before Bradshaw runs it in from four yards out tying the game at 17.
New York's special team then gets into the act when they kick off next to the Browns. Will Hill forces a Joshua Cribbs fumble and that man, Brown, scoops it up on the 29-yard line. At 1:27 later, Manning finds Cruz for the second time all alone in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. Penalties continued to hurt Cleveland on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they committed two miscues ultimately giving the ball back to New York with .17 left in the half. After a 12-yard run by Bradshaw, Manning looks to hook up with Randle again as Browns Buster Skrine is called for pass interference. Tynes then kicks his second field goal of the day giving Big Blue a 27-17 halftime lead.

The Cruz (Salsa) show continued in the third quarter after their first possession. From the shotgun, Manning (25-37, 259 yards, 3 TDs) once again finds Cruz alone in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass, his third and final for the day. With the lead 34-17, Cleveland looked to make a run similar to the way they began. The Giants defense would not let that happen.

Big Blue allowed a Dawson 41-yard field goal reducing the lead to 14 (34-20) with a little more than a minute to go in the third. Manning would then throw his only pick of the day as the pass intended for Cruz gets popped in the air by Sheldon Brown. Usama Young comes up with the ball. Weedon gets the Browns down to the Giants 5 yard line looking to close the gap to seven when his next pass is intercepted by Blackburn in the end zone. On the play before, Weedon's pass attempt gets batted right back to him by Justin Tuck. Weedon finds tight end Jordan Cameron which would have been a 13-yard touchdown pass bringing the score to 31-27. The score was nullified for an illegal forward pass. Six plays later, Giants rookie David Wilson puts the game with a 44-yard touchdown run for the 41-27 final score.

It was a record-setting day for Bradshaw, as he finished the day with 200 yards on 30 carries. Cruz salsa'd his way to three touchdown catches for a meager 50 yards. Big Blue got major contributions from back-ups on sides ball. Offensively, Little used wide receiver Rueben Randle pitched in with six catches for 82 yards, while Brown shook off his early miscue to come up with big plays on the defensive side.

They will need all of those components when they travel cross-country to face the San Francisco 49ers the team they beat last year on their way the winning the Super Bowl.

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