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Giants-Saints final score: Giants defeat New Orleans, 16-13

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Brown’s kick is game-winner after low-scoring struggle

NFL: New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
Victor Cruz catches a pass over Ken Crawley of New Orleans to set up the Giants’ game-winning field goal.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Naturally, as everyone predicted, the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints were engaged in a defensive battle as the Giants barely edged out the win Sunday, 16-13. The Giants (2-0) won the game on a 23-yard field goal by Josh Brown as time expired.

The Giants were able to the move the ball well, especially with Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashad Jennings. On their first visit to the end zone, the Giants went for it on fourth down and failed to convert for a touchdown. The Giants defense was able to shut down Drew Brees and the Saints offense for much of the game. However, the Giants had plenty of missed opportunities that left points off the board.

Shane Vereen fumbled the ball leading to a turnover. Victor Cruz had an amazing catch and run which ended up as a fumble. Eli Manning was sacked twice in a row — the latter of which ended up as a fumble. That’s a fumble for a wide receiver, a running back and the quarterback. Not good. The Giants also failed on a fourth-and-goal from the New Orleans 3-yard line in the first quarter.

Manning did finish the game with an impressive stat line, going 31-of-42 for 368 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 104.1. Sterling Shepard was the Giants’ leading receiver with 117 yards in his second career game. Odell Beckham had eight catches for 86 yards.

Defensively, this team played well. Good coverage, good pass rushing, good everything. The powerful Saints offense were mostly stopped for much of the game. The Giants held the Saints to 288 total yards of offense, with Drew Bress going 29-of-44 for 263 yards and one touchdown.

On the final offensive drive, the Giants went 70 yards in 11 plays, miling the final 2:54 off the clock. Victor Cruz made the crucial play, outfighting Saints’ cornerback Ken Crawley for a 34-yard catch at the New Orleans 2-yard line with 1:32 left. With New Orleans (0-2) out of timeouts, the Giants took a knee on three straight plays before Brown’s game-winner.

Moments that mattered

P.J. Williams carted off the field: After a Larry Donnell reception, the Saint cornerback went low for the tackle. Unfortunately, he was hit by friendly fire as a fellow defender accidentally kneed his head —resulting in a brutal concussion. Williams was lying down unconscious for several minutes before being carted off the field. A grim reminder of how dangerous this sport is. (Full story)

Victor Cruz’s reception ... and fumble: From the Giants’ 40-yard line, Cruz took a quick pass from Manning and broke free down the right sideline. Unfortunately, he took a big hit at the New Orleans’ 20-yard line and fumbled, with the Saints recovering at their own 16-yard line midway through the second quarter.

More turnovers: The Giants offense for the entire game moved the ball at ease. But costly turnovers have left sure points off the board. Shane Vereen and Manning both lost fumbles in the first half.

Johnathan Hankins blocks field goal: Wow! After Manning fumbled the ball, the Saints were in prime position for an offensive push. After being stifled (again) by the Giants’ defense, they went for a 38-yard field goal. Hankins was able to swat down the field goal attempt with Janoris Jenkins recovering and running 65 yards for the Giants’ first touchdown.

Cruz’s clutch catch: Late in the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 13, Victor Cruz made up for his miscues and hauled in a clutch pass to put the Giants at the goal line which led to a chip in shot for Josh Brown. Tightly covered, Cruz outfought Crawley for the ball, making it two weeks in a row Cruz has made a critical play to help the Giants win a game.

Quotable

— McAdoo on why the Giants milked the clock at the end rather than go for a touchdown.

What’s next?

The Giants host the Washington Redskins Sunday at 1 p..m. ET. So, brace yourself for a week full of Josh Norman vs. Odell Beckham Jr. nonsense.