EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants' starting receivers hope the officiating in Tampa is better than…
X's and O's
Eli Manning overthrew WR Plaxico Burress and RCB Ellis Hobbs intercepted the pass near the Giants' sideline, with 9:53 to play in the game. Manning avoided pocket pressure, rolled right and threw a perfect pass across his body for a 19-yard touchdown to Burress with 9:22 to go in the third quarter. Bottom Line: Manning played one of his best games of the season.
RB Brandon Jacobs steamrolled and hurdled SS Rodney Harrison on successive carries early in the third quarter that accounted for respective gains of 16 and 15 yards. The Giants went ahead 28-16 on Manning's touchdown throw to Burress to end that drive. Jacobs' determination enabled him to bounce off the attempted tackle of ILB Tedy Bruschi inside the Patriots' 5 and dive past Harrison to get the ball beyond the goal line for a seven-yard touchdown reception that helped put the Giants in front 7-0 just 4:01 into the game. Bottom Line: Jacobs bounced back from a rough first half (seven carries, seven yards).
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
WR Plaxico Burress masterfully kept his left foot planted and dragged his right foot in the end zone to complete a 19-yard touchdown catch that helped move the Giants in front 28-16, with 9:12 left in the third quarter. Burress showed tremendous concentration in reaching up to snatch a 52-yard pass from Manning that moved the Giants to the Patriots' 18 on their second play from scrimmage. They went ahead 7-0 five plays later. Bottom Line: Manning spread the ball around to all of them.
LT David Diehl reacted late and offered OLB Adalius Thomas a clear path to Manning, who fell down and was sacked for a 14-yard loss late in the third quarter. The Giants punted two plays later. Bottom Line: Manning was sacked only once and hurried on just two other occasions.
C Dan Koppen sealed off LDT Fred Robbins and LG Logan Mankins manhandled RDT Justin Tuck to create the huge hole up the middle that RB Laurence Maroney used to score a five-yard touchdown that helped move New England ahead 38-28 with 4:36 left in the game. Three plays earlier, LDE Michael Strahan, with TE Ben Watson draped all over him, dragged down Maroney for a two-yard loss that created a third-and-nine situation from the Giants' 22. Bottom Line: They hurried Tom Brady five times, but never sacked him.
With the Giants down 31-28 and just under 10 minutes to play, SLB Reggie Torber disguised his blitz well, rushed up the middle and dropped Brady for a 10-yard sack that backed the Patriots into a second-and-20 predicament from the Giants' 45. On his second play as injured WLB Kawika Mitchell's replacement, blitzing WLB Gerris Wilkinson dropped Maroney for a four-yard loss to force the Patriots into a third-and-14 situation from their 46 late in the first quarter. Bottom Line: Wilkinson played pretty well in emergency duty.
LCB Aaron Ross missed a leg tackle on Maroney inside the Giants' 5, which allowed Maroney to score a six-yard touchdown that helped bring New England within five points (28-23), with 4:00 to go in the third quarter. Backup RCB Corey Webster made illegal contact with WR Donte Stallworth, a five-yard infraction that negated MLB Antonio Pierce's eight-yard sack of Brady and gave the Patriots an automatic first down at the Giants' 49 late in the first quarter. The Patriots scored a touchdown six plays later and went ahead 10-7. Bottom Line: Brady threw for 356 yards.
KR Domenik Hixon caught ILB Larry Izzo and Harrison leaning when he cut back at the Giants' 45, which created the hole he needed to race untouched for a 74-yard touchdown that helped give the Giants the lead again (14-10), just 11 seconds after Randy Moss' touchdown catch put the Patriots ahead early in the second quarter. P Jeff Feagles cleanly handled and placed LS Jay Alford's high snap on the ensuing play, so K Lawrence Tynes drilled an extra point right down the middle of the uprights. Bottom Line: The coverage units excelled.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo showed some creativity in repeatedly blitzing Brady. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride wasn't afraid to utilize Jacobs as a receiver, despite his drops in previous games. Tom Coughlin was justified in challenging what was ultimately ruled an incompletion from Manning to Steve Smith at the Patriots' 18, despite that it cost them a timeout just three plays into the game. Bottom Line: They responded to Coughlin coaching them to play this game like it mattered.
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