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 In Echo of ’08, Giants Beat Patriots

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PostSubject: In Echo of ’08, Giants Beat Patriots   Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:25 am

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — All week the questions came and all week the Giants repelled them, trying desperately to avoid reminiscing aboutcheap nhl jerseys their dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLII even as they prepared to play their first meaningful game against the New England Patriots since that 2008 night in the Arizona desert.
Coach Tom Coughlin was continually asked about the game. Eli Manning was, too. And the Giants, faced with a growing list of injuries and other worries to occupy them in the present, were not interested in looking to the past, even for one of the franchise’s greatest glories.

“We will focus on the now,” Coughlin said, more than once. “That was a long time ago.”

It did not feel that way Sunday. Not as Manning led the Giants on another late game-winning drive and not as the Patriots walked off, nearly four years later, stunned again, this time by 24-20. Instead of a floater to Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone, the dagger this time was a 1-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Jake Ballard with 15 seconds remaining.

Ballard’s catch capped a wild fourth quarter in which Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Manning each appeared to lead a game-winning drive only to nfl jerseys wholesaleleave the other too much time.

After the Giants blew a 10-point lead and trailed, 13-10, Manning found Mario Manningham for a 10-yard touchdown reception with just over three minutes left. Manningham was tagged with a penalty for excessive celebration, though, and it was enforced on the kickoff, allowing Brady to start his drive from New England’s 36.

Brady, who threw two interceptions and struggled for much of the day, quickly moved the Patriots down the field and hit Rob Gronkowski for a 14-yard touchdown with 1 minute 36 seconds remaining, energizing the Gillette Stadium fans.

But Manning quickly quieted them. He led the Giants down to the New England 1 after a critical third-down pass-interference call on Patriots safety Sergio Brown. Three plays later, Ballard pulled in the biggest catch of his career near the left side of the end zone to set off the Giants’ celebration.

It was an incongruous finish, as the first points of the game were not scored until nearly five minutes into the third quarter, when Lawrence Tynes kicked a 22-yard field goal that capped the Giants’ best drive to that point. Brady gave the Giants their opening when he threw his second interception (Deon Grant picked it off at the Giants’ 39) and Manning completed passes of 18 yards (to Victor Cruz) and 30 yards (to Ballard) that took the Giants to the New England 11.

At that point, a touchdown would have felt like a wide margin, but the Giants stalled, getting 7 yards on two running plays before Manning’s quick pass to Cruz fell incomplete on third down to set up Tynes’s kick.

As it turned out, that began a relative bonanza of scoring, as the Giants again took advantage of a Brady turnover to stretch the lead. This time, Brady stood in the pocket just long enough for Michael Boley to come around the edge and knock the ball out of his hand. Jacquian Williams recovered the ball (while lying on the ground) at the New England 10, and Brandon Jacobs ripped off a 10-yarCheap NFL Jerseysd touchdown on the next play to make it 10-0.

With the Patriots reeling, the Giants could have stretched the lead, but instead let New England back in. After Brady was booed off the field following another missed third-down pass, Aaron Ross fumbled the ensuing punt to give the Patriots the ball on the Giants’ 33. That led to a Patriots field goal, cutting the margin to 10-3.

The Giants could have seized control again minutes later after Julian Edelman fumbled a punt, but Manning threw a brutal interception — after taking a delay-of-game penalty on second-and-goal from the New England 2 — in the end zone. On the sideline, Coach Tom Coughlin fumed and Brady promptly took the Patriots down the field, throwing the tying touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez to start the fourth quarter.

It was a stunning second half, considering the earlier deadlock. Although the teams meet regularly in the preseason, this was their first meaningful game since Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants stopped the Patriots one win short of a perfect season. Some of the principals in that game — including the head coaches and the starting quarterbacks — were on the field Sunday, but the feel of both teams is very different.

Consider how each team began its first drive: The Giants, who have forever been known for a punishing running game, threw passes on three of their first four plays from scrimmage. Starting back Ahmad Bradshaw was out with a fractured foot, but the Giants have struggled to run the ball all season anyway and, facing a Patriots secondary that had allowed a league-high 323.1 passing yards per game coming in, attacking through the air seemed an appropriate strategy.

Of course, the Patriots were a passing juggernaut in the 2007 season (and in most years since Brady became the quarterback), but they began their opening series Sunday with three consecutive runs. After all, the Giants came in allowing 130.1 rushing yards per game and Brady, while still a superstar, was coming off a game in which he threw for just 198 yards in a loss to Pittsburgh last week.

Brady did not look much better early Sunday (he passed for 134 yards in the first half) though, to be fair, his counterpart — Manning, who made waves in the off-season for saying he believed he was in the same class as Brady as a quarterback — was equally bad, if not worse.

Manning passed for 71 yards in the first half, when the best players on the field were the punters. Of the 12 possessions before halftime (not counting the Giants’ final kneel-down), 10 resulted in punts (six for the Giants, four for the Patriots).

The scoreless first half was the first in the N.F.L. this season.
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