It might be inaccurate to say the Giants had a great running game all day against the Bills. But it came alive at just the right time to bail them out of a tough spot in a 27-24 victory that sent them into the bye week at 4-2.
Ahmad Bradshaw, so frustrated during the week over the lack of blocking up front, provided two big runs in the Giants' final drive that ended with Lawrence Tynes' 23-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining. Bradshaw, who finished with 104 yards and three touchdowns off 26 carries, went for 11 yards on the first carry of the drive to get the Giants out of the shadow of their own goal line, and then tore off a 30-yarder two plays later to put his team at the Bills' 37.
"That last drive, we ran the ball really well," quarterback Eli Manning said. "First play, Ahmad goes for 10 yards and a first down. Then there's great blocking and a little bit of misdirection. We block the safety and he runs for 30 yards, and then we get the pass interferences."We played hard and smart all day. We'd called that a few times earlier and never got the right look. But we got the look we were looking for and we had an idea it was going to be a big play if we could block the safety. So Manningham came in and blocked the safety and Ahmad made the corner miss, and we had a big play."
Of course, nothing is ever easy with the Giants. Although they got to the 1 on that drive, they were unable to punch it in for a touchdown. And Manning, who finished 21-of-32 for 292 yards, nearly marred a turnover-less day when his third-and-goal throw to Mario Manningham was nearly picked off by Leodis McKelvin.
But McKelvin couldn't reel it in, ala Brandon Browner of the previous week, and Tynes kicked his field goal
None of that would have been possible if not for Corey Webster's second interception of the game, a pick at the 4 that triggered that drive. It was his first two-pick game since Nov. 2, 2008 against Dallas.Here's the good and bad.
AHMAD BRADSHAW: The blocking up front wasn't great, but it was good enough to get him into the end zone on three touchdown runs of one yard each. In addition to the stiffarm he threw on his 30-yard jaunt to the Bills' 37, he made a great athletic move when he vaulted into the end zone on his final scoring run, right after the refs upheld Mario Manningham's challenged endzone incompletion.
COREY WEBSTER: His second interception of the game, at the Giants' 4, stopped the Bills from scoring a go-ahead touchdown, and a facemask call on intended receiver Stevie Johnson set the Giants on a game-winning field goal drive from the 19. They were aided by two pass interference penalties.
Jason Pierre-Paul: He batted down Ryan Fitzpatrick's fourth-and-5 pass to secure the victory.
Jake Ballard: The surprising tight end continued to make major contributions with a 24-yard catch to the 1 to set up Bradshaw's touchdown run that opened the scoring in the first. Ballard finished with five catches for 81 yards on his biggest day as a pro.
Hakeem Nicks: His 60-yard catch in the second quarter set up the Giants at the Buffalo 5, down 14-10. It marked his second catch of 60 or more yards this season, and set up Bradshaw's second touchdown run and a 17-14 lead.
RUN DEFENSE: That unit continued their season-long problems, which were immediately manifested with Fred Jackson's 80-yard run up the middle for a first-quarter, tying touchdown. Once Jackson broke through the line on first down, there was nobody there to touch him. Aaron Ross had a shot at him at the Giants' 10, but couldn't get enough of the running back to make a difference.
PASS DEFENSE: First they made Charlie Whitehurst look like an MVP last week. Sunday, it was almost Ryan Fitzpatrick's turn. He got a good blitz pickup on third-and-6 in the first quarter and hit Naaman Roosevelt with a pass into a nickel seam that the receiver turned into a 60-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead. Webster had his first interception of the season in the third quarter, but then gave up Stevie Johnson's fourth-quarter tying touchdown catch to cap a 12-play, 60-yard drive.
Bear Pascoe: The fullback had two holding calls, including one from the Giants' first play from scrimmage and one on the first play after Buffalo scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.