The New York Giants appeared to be headed for a brutal Week 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a 0-2 start - both at MetLife Stadium - to begin the defense of their Super Bowl title. Then Eli Manning orchestrated yet another fourth-quarter comeback. Down 27-13 early in the third quarter, Manning and the Giants roared back and held on for a 41-34 victory, a wild affair that totaled a combined 911 yards of offense and controversy on what was supposed to be only a kneel-down to end the game.
Eli Manning: Threw for three touchdowns and 510 yards, the second-highest total in franchise history behind Phil Simms' 513 set against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1985. He overcame a first half during which he threw three interceptions - the last for a pick six - to compile 295 passing yards. To put Manning's day in perspective, he threw for 243 yards in the fourth quarter. Bucs QB Josh Freeman threw 243 for the game.
Victor Cruz-Hakeem Nicks-Martellus Bennett: Cruz (11 catches, 179 yards, TD) and Nicks (10-199-1) were awesome in becoming the first duo with 150-plus receiving yards in the same game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. But the "Black Unicorn" overcame a dropped scoring pass in the first quarter to collect five grabs for 72 yards, including the go-ahead 33-yard strike from Manning with 3:59 left to play.
Andre Brown: Became the Giant's primary running back after Ahmad Bradshaw left with a neck injury and ran for 71 yards on 13 carries and the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left. Brown also tied the game with a two-point conversion after Cruz hauled in an 80-yard scoring pass.
Josh Freeman: He was overshadowed by Manning, but Freeman was very good. He finished 15 of 28 for 243 yards and two touchdowns and refused to buckle under the Giants' fourth-quarter momentum. Freeman found Mike Williams for a pretty 41-yard score with 1:58 left to tie the game.
Eric Wright : Returned Manning's third interception 60 yards for a score with eight seconds left in the second quarter to give Tampa Bay a 24-13 lead.
Greg Schiano: The former Rutgers coach was enjoying his New Jersey homecoming until the fourth quarter. Then he decided to act tough by telling his players to knock Manning to the ground while he took a knee on the game's final play. That didn't go over well with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who got heated with Schiano before, during and after the postgame handshake.
"I don't think you do that at this level," Coughlin said. "You don't do that in this league. You don't jeopardize the offensive line, you (don't) jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn't get anybody hurt, that I know of, a couple of linemen were late coming in (after end of game)."
Schiano explained that he did that while at Rutgers and would do it again.
"I don't know if that's not something that's not done in the National Football League, but what I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us game over," Schiano said. "There's nothing dirty about it and there's nothing illegal about it."
Maybe it's not illegal, but certainly not moral and it's totally unnecessary. Two weeks into his first NFL season, Schiano isn't making any friends outside of the Tampa metropolitan area.
Bucs cornerbacks: The Giants targeted and toasted fifth-year corner Aqib Talib; 16-year veteran Ronde Barber was torched by Cruz's 80-yard score; Bennett beat Brandon McDonald for his TD catch.
Giants corners: More struggles for the injury-ravaged Giants secondary. Corey Wilson was handled by Vincent Jackson (5 catches, 128 yards), who beat Michael Coe for a 29-yard scoring grab in the first half. Justin Tryon was beaten on Freeman's pass to Williams that tied the game at 34.
David Wilson: Dropped a pass on the Giants' first drive and was passed over for Brown after Bradshaw left the game. Wilson (3 carries, 6 yards) was a non-factor in the running game, though he did return three kicks for 86 yards.
Manning to Cruz for 80 yards tied the game and electrified the Met, and Cruz honored his late grandmother, Lucy Molina, with his first touchdown salsa. The Giants later took the lead and though Bucs came back to tie the game, Big Blue had enough momentum that they were not going to be denied.
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