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Giants-Jets final score: Giants win MetLife Bowl, 21-20

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Tavarres King stars in second-half comeback

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at New York Jets
Eli Manning chased by Leonard Williams of the Jets on Saturday.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Victor Cruz, a one-time undrafted free agent who first became a sensation in a long-ago preseason game against the New York Jets, returned to action for the New York Giants Saturday for the first time in nearly two years. It was, however, another young, unheralded wide receiver who starred in the Giants’ 21-20 victory.

Tavarres King, trying to make the roster as a reserve, caught two second-half touchdown passes, including a game-winning 11-yard pass from Ryan Nassib with 2:25 remaining to give the Giants (1-2) a come-from-behind victory.

The Giants fell behind, 10-0, thanks mostly to abysmal work from their first-team offense. That group failed to put together a single quality drive until exiting after one third-quarter series. The first-team never crossed midfield and its longest possession lasted six plays. Starting running back Rashad Jennings had six carries for -1 yards.

Nassib hit King for a 27-yard score with 1:55 left in the third quarter, the first Giant points since the first quarter of the opening preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Defensive end Kerry Wynn gave the Giants a 14-10 lead with 12:22 left in the game, intercepting a Bryce Petty pass and returning it 75 yards for a touchdown. A 10-yard pass from Christian Hackenburg to Robby Anderson and a 29-yard Ross Martin field goal with 6:26 left gave the Jets a 20-14 lead

Aided by 45 yards in Jet penalties the Giants drove to the Jets’ two-yard line, but a fourth-down pas from Nassib to Jerell Adams was batted away with 3:33 to play.

The Giants got another opportunity when Davon Coleman tipped a pass and Andrew Adams intercepted, setting the Giants up at the Jets 11-yard line with 2:34 to play. Nassib hit Tavarres King with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 2:25 to play. Josh Brown’s extra point gave the Giants their margin of victory.

Moments that mattered

McAdoo calling plays: After letting offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan call plays during the first two preseason games, head coach Ben McAdoo took over play-calling duties Saturday night. Best guess is that means McAdoo will call plays during the regular season.

Cruz makes a catch: Victor Cruz played into the third quarter in his first action. He was targeted twice, making one catch for 4 yards.

Awful offense: The Giants’ first-team offense was awful once again. When Eli Manning and the first-team offensive line went to the bench it was 7-0 Jets and the Giants had not scored in nine-plus quarters. The Giants ran 29 plays with Manning in the game, gaining 61 yards (2.1 yards per play). They ran the ball 13 times for 6 yards (0.5 yards per carry). The Giants generated just three first downs. The offensive line was atrocious. No push in the running game and Manning was sacked once and hit several times.

“Snacks” time: After the Jets blocked a punt and took over at the Giants’ 15-yard line, Damon Harrison denied them a scoring opportunity with a strip-sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Johnathan Hankins recovered the fumbles for the Giants.

Wynn’s TD: The Jets were trying to run a screen pass. Thomas deflected the ball, a diving Wynn grabbed it, got up and went down the left sideline for the score.

Quotable

"It felt great, man, just to be with my teammates and put this 80 jersey back on and to get the love of the crowd and the people again and go out there and be in position to make a few plays as well. It was a great feeling.” — Victor Cruz

What’s next?

The Giants conclude their preseason Thursday night at MetLife Stadium when they host the New England Patriots. Game time is 7 p.m. ET with the TV broadcast on WNBC 4 NY. Starters figure to play very little, if at all, in that one.