NFL: Eli Manning leads Giants comeback


Eli Manning led his Super Bowl champions, New York Giants, to a superb comeback winning a 41-37 thriller against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the MetLife Stadium.

After an opening night loss to Dallas, the Giants looked like dropping to another home defeat as the Bucs moved ahead early in the third quarter.

Manning threw three second-quarter interceptions that led to three Tampa Bay touchdowns and a 24-13 halftime deficit, but he brought New York back in a thrilling last quarter in which he threw two touchdown passes and another cracker to set up the game-winner.

“No one wants to start 0-2,” said Manning.

“It’s a big win, big win, especially after a first half playing poorly and last week not playing well. The second half was good. Some big time plays, stepping up when we needed it. That was fun.”

In the fourth quarter, Manning’s 80-yard strike to Victor Cruz followed by a two-point conversion run in by Andre Brown tied it 27-27 and a 33-yard touchdown to tight end Martellus Bennett gave New York a 34-27 lead with less than four minutes to play.

Then it was Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman’s turn to fight back as he hit Mike Williams for a 41-yard leaping catch in the end zone for a touchdown that knotted the game 34-34 with just under two minutes left.

Just as the Patriots had done in the Super Bowl, the Bucs then allowed the Giants to score when Manning got them in range – as they figured a touchdown with time to respond was better than New York running the clock down for a winning field goal.

Sensing a Bucs’ blitz as he tried to drive the Giants to a winning score, Manning quickly released a high-floating bomb down the sideline that Hakeem Nicks hauled in for a 50-yard gain to the 11-yard line.

Brown bulled his way for a two-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left to make it 41-34 and the Giants escaped a last ditch desperation drive by Tampa Bay when Michael Boley intercepted a Freeman pass to end it.

“Eli did a good job all day of identifying,” Tampa Bay rookie coach Greg Schiano, who joined the NFL this season after coaching at nearby Rutgers University.

“Overall, it was a cat and mouse game and they won it.”

“The first half was very disappointing,” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. “Thank goodness, we are so happy to be 1-1 at this juncture. There is plenty of stuff to correct and we’ll work to get that corrected.”

The victory leveled the Giants record to 1-1 after their NFL season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week. Tampa Bay dropped to 1-1 after winning their first game against Carolina.