Sep 16, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) celebrates a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at MetLife Stadium. Andrew Mills/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
The New York Giants (1-1) defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) 41-34 Sunday, but it was no easy matter. Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw three picks in the first half, but managed to bounce back in the second half, most notably in the fourth quarter. Manning finished the game passing for a career high 510 yards and three three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Those stats did not come easy after an ugly first quarter where Manning threw three interceptions which the Buccaneers collected 21 points off of. However, you can never count the Giants out of a game. As great as Manning can be in the fourth quarter, he certainly doesn't get the job done all by himself. Here are the five key plays that led to the Giants' first win of the season:
1. Victor Cruz 80-yard touchdown
Manning's 23rd career fourth-quarter comeback started with an 80-yard pass to Cruz which he ran all the way into the end zone for a touchdown. He rebounded nicely from a Week 1 disaster where he dropped three passes. Cruz ended the day with 179 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions.
2. Andre Brown completes successful two-point conversion
After Cruz danced a salsa in his touchdown celebration, the Giants went for the two-point conversion to tie up the game 27-27. Manning handed off the ball to Brown to successfully complete the conversion. Ahmad Bradshaw left the game early in the first half with a neck injury, but Brown filled in his spot with ease, finishing his day with 71 yards and a touchdown.
3. Martellus Bennett 33-yard touchdown pass
Manning and the Giants officially took the lead when he hit Bennett for a 33-yard touchdown pass. Bennett struggled through most of the game dropping a few passes in the end zone from Manning, but he made up for it when it mattered most. The touchdown became ever so important because of what happened next. Oh, and speaking of which....
4. Josh Freeman 41-yard touchdown to Mike Williams
Just after Bennett scored a touchdown to put the Giants ahead 34-27, Buccaneers quarterback Freeman answered quickly with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams. The stadium was in utter shock when Williams managed to handle the football and haul it in for the completion. The game was now tied up 34-34 with 1:58 left in the game. As mentioned earlier, you don't count out the Giants yet, and 1:58 is plenty of time for Manning to work his magic.
5. Hakeem Nicks 50-yard pass to set up Andre Brown TD
Sometimes it takes one big play to set up that insurance touchdown and that's exactly what Manning and Nicks did. Manning found Nicks and hit him with a 50-yard pass which ultimately set up the game winning touchdown that was ran in by Brown. Nicks ended his day with 10 catches for a whopping 199 yards and a touchdown.
In conclusion, Manning continues to show that he's one of the better quarterbacks in the league when it comes to the fourth quarter. No on likes to see the Giants having to go through games this way, but a win is a win, no matter how it's done. This Thursday the Giants will face the Carolina Panthers at Carolina.