EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New England Patriots' field goal kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a 54-yard field goal with :01 left as the New England Patriots narrowly escaped with a 27-26 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
The Patriots went on a 12-play, 44-yard drive in 1:46 to set up Gostkowski and send the 5-5 Giants to a heartbreaking defeat. This was the fourth time the Giants have lost a game this season in which they had a fourth-quarter lead.
The game really came down to two catches the Giants didn't make. The first was a controversial catch/non-catch in the end zone by Odell Beckham with 2:06 to play. The second was a dropped interception by safety Landon Collins with the Giants leading 26-24 in the final two minutes.
"Finish the game, just get the game over with," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
The Giants had taken a 26-24 lead with 1:47 to play on a 29-yard field goal by Josh Brown. A pass to Beckham that was ruled an incompletion ended up costing the Giants four points, and possibly the victory. On first down from the New England 5-yard line Beckham was originally ruled to have a caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning. Replay officials ruled, however, that New England cornerback Malcolm Butler had knocked the ball out before Beckham became a runner, negating the catch. After an incompletion and a sack, the Giants settled for the field goal.
Coughlin said he knew that the Beckham call could go either way.
"We had two other plays. We weren't able to score. We already had the two-point play on the field ready to go for two (after the plays was ruled a catch on the field). There you go," Coughlin said.
Landon Collins dropped a potential interception at midfield on the first play after New England took possession of the ball. Under pressure, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a ball down the middle of the field with no New England receiver in sight. Collins went up but couldn't come down with the ball, banging his head on the MetLife Stadium turf in the process and having to leave the game to be checked for a concussion.
"Play's there, you've got to make the play. I mean, he's throwing it up down the middle of the field with no one, there's no one even there," Coughlin said. "Catch the ball and the game's over. I'm sending the victory team out. I mean, it's just a shame. I don't know. I don't know how to explain it. I mean, it looked like he had it at first and the ball was out when he hit the ground."
The Patriots then took advantage by driving to the Giants' 36-yard line with :06 left, close enough for Gostkowski to drill the game winner.
Thanks to the Miami Dolphins' 20-19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday the 5-5 Giants remain in first place in the NFC East as the Eagles dropped to 4-5. That, however, was small consolation for a Giants team that played with passion and made a number of big plays, but couldn't hold off the 9-0 Patriots.
"Very frustrating loss," said Coughlin. "I'm very disappointed, upset, whatever the words might be."
The Giants needed to be perfect to defeat the unbeaten Patriots. They were good, really good at times. They weren't perfect, however, and thus came out on the short end of the score.
The Giants led 17-10 at the half. They stretched the lead to 20-20, largest deficit faced by New England this season, on a 38-yard Josh Brown field goal with 9:32 left in the third quarter, and still held a 23-17 advantage after three quarters. The loss marks the fourth time this season the Giants have lost a game they led entering the fourth quarter.
The Giants had several missed opportunities or miscues in the second half.
- They reached the New England red zone twice in the second half, but had to settle for field goals both times.
- Leading 20-10, they gave up an 82-yard punt return that gave the Patriots a first-and-goal at the Giants- 7-yard line, setting up a third-quarter touchdown.
- They got no points after Tom Brady fumbled when sacked by Jasper Brinkley and Markus Kurhn recovered, giving the Giants the ball at the New England 31-yard line.
- They missed an opportunity when Brady fumbled on a Robert Ayers sack, but New England offensive lineman Brian Stork recovered at the Patriots' 25-yard line.
- They had the Beckham non-catch and the Collins dropped interception.
The Patriots cut the lead to 20-17 with 4:46 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by LeGarrette Blount. The score was set up by an 82-yard Danny Amendola punt return that ended at the Giants' 7-yard line when he tripped over the foot of his own teammate. On the punt return gunner Dwayne Harris appeared to be in position to make a play, but Amendola seemed to fool him with a motion that made it look as if he was going to let the ball bounce.
"He did something, which slowed -- which whatever he did, (Dwayne) Harris didn't finish the play," Coughlin said.
Josh Brown stretched the Giants' lead to 23-17 with :49 left in the third quarter, booming home his second 53-yard field goal in as many weeks. That capped a nine-play, 45-yard drive that took 3:57.
A 76-yard pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski gave the Patriots a 24-23 lead with 11:51 to play.
The Patriots took the lead with 11:33 to go on a 76-yard pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots' tight end ran by safety Brandon Meriweather, broke a tackle after making the catch and ran unimpeded the final 40+ yards.
After a Giants punt the Patriots appeared ready to put the game away, driving from their own 19-yard line to the Giants' 5-yard line. An interception of Brady by Trumaine McBride at the Giants' 1-yard line with 6:10 remaining gave the Giants a chance. With the Patriots on the Giants' 5-yard line with second-and-goal, McBride dove in front of a pass for Brandon LaFell and returned the ball to the 3-yard line.
The Giants drove for the field goal that gave them the lead, but it wasn't enough.
Manning finished 24-of-44 for 361 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the 36th 300-yard passing game of Manning's career.
Beckham caught four passes for 104 yards, his third straight game with at least 100 receiving yards. He got 87 of those on a first-quarter touchdown pass on the Giants' first possession of the game.
Dwayne Harris had six catches for 82 yards and rookie tight end Will Tye had five for 56.
Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley had 12 tackles, including nine solos. He had a sack, forced fumble and a tackle for loss.
The Giants have a bye this week. They return to action Week 12 on the road against the Washington Redskins in what shapes up as a critical NFC East game.