Stat worth noting: After throwing only one interception during the first four games combined, Eli Manning was picked off three times in Cleveland.
Stat worth noting II: The Browns didn’t punt once all game long.
Turning point: The Giants were driving, and yes, they still needed two touchdowns, but they’ve pulled this kind of game out before. That was until Eric Wright stepped in front of an Eli Manning pass intended for Amani Toomer and returned it 94 yards for the game-sealing score. Wright read the route perfectly, before racing and then high-stepping down the left sideline for the points. Adding insult to injury, the Browns succeeded on their two-point conversion attempt to take a 35-14 lead with little more than eight minutes to play.
Play to remember: New York’s first touchdown run is one no Giants fan – or Browns DB Mike Adams – will forget any time soon. After Steve Smith barely converted a third down to the Cleveland 7-yard line, Eli Manning put the ball in Brandon Jacobs’ very capable hands. Jacobs built up a head of steam while running off left guard. As he approached the goal line, Adams foolishly got in his way. The NFL jargon for what happened next is ‘trucked,’ as Jacobs absolutely flattened Adams before crossing the goal line.
Play to forget: Moments after Jacobs’ seemingly momentum-shifting TD run, Braylon Edwards swung things right back in Cleveland’s favor. Derek Anderson had all day to drop back and uncork an absolute bomb to a wide-open Edwards, who was streaking down the field. Giants CB Aaron Ross stumbled in coverage and Edwards was all alone to complete the 70-yard gain. Two plays later, the Browns had a 10-7 lead.
What went right
Phil Dawson missed a 51-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter that set Big Blue up at its own 42-yard line. Six plays later Brandon Jacobs was in the end zone and New York had a 7-3 lead.
Like death and taxes, you can count on the Giants to score when they have the ball in the final minutes of a half. Monday night was no different as Manning moved the offense 80 yards in 10 plays, capping the drive with a three-yard fade pass to Plaxico Burress in the end zone with 12 seconds to play before halftime. Big Blue caught a nice break toward the end of that drive when a lost Manning fumble was negated by an illegal contact call on Mike Adams.
Steve Smith had his best career game, grabbing nine passes for 94 yards.
Rookie LB Bryan Kehl played very well, leading the team with six tackles.
With everyone else in the NFC East already saddled with at least two losses, the Giants are still sitting in first place atop the division.
What went wrong
The Giants just could not stop Braylon Edwards, who caught five passes for 154 yards, a ridiculous 30.8-yard average. He also caught an 11-yard TD pass and a two-point conversion pass.
The Browns hit on a big play on their very first drive. QB Derek Anderson on third down connected with Edwards for a 49-yard catch-and-run that set up a Phil Dawson field goal.
After a nice, first-quarter drive that covered 41 yards, Manning made a rare mistake when he was picked off by Browns DB Brodney Pool while attempting to hit Burress near the Cleveland goal line.
A phantom block in the back call on Domenik Hixon, on which he made absolutely no contact with the defender, cost the Giants 10 yards on a Burress reception and led to a series of events where Big Blue continued to move backwards. Instead of having the ball at the Cleveland 41, the Giants, after three penalties, ended up punting from their own 38.
Manning had his first throw of the second half, a deep ball to Burress, picked off by Brandon McDonald.
0 – Number of sacks posted by the Giants and their non-existent pass rush. They came into the game with 15 in four games.
8 – Number of different Browns receivers to catch at least one pass against New York’s ineffective secondary.
121.3 – The gaudy QB rating for supposedly lousy Cleveland QB Derek Anderson, who threw for 310 yards and 2 TDs.
“We lost a game that we didn’t play well enough to win. We turned the ball over, we didn’t stop the run and we weren’t very good on third down.” – Giants coach Tom Coughlin
“They’re the World Champions and no one thought we could beat them. It was our night tonight and we were the better team.” – Browns OL Ryan Tucker