With little to play for, the New York Giants came out strong on Sunday, beating the Detroit Lions in almost every aspect of the game. In fact, it appeared like a bizarre role reversal in which Big Blue was fighting for their playoff lives, while the Lions were merely going through the motions.
Despite several self-inflicted wounds and injuries, which included a sprained knee for tight end Adrien Robinson on the opening kickoff of the game and a broken right hand for guard Brandon Mosley, the Giants were able to scratch and claw to a 13-3 halftime lead. By all accounts, it looked like they had the game in the bag with the defense playing well and the offense finally clicking.
Unfortunately, a football game is four quarters long, and the Giants certainly didn't show up for all of them.
As the second half began, so to did the Giants' implosion. The offense kicked things into gear with a three-and-out, and that would be a trend for the remainder of the game.
The Lions' offense, essentially without wide receiver Calvin Johnson (injured knee), would go on to score 15 unanswered points, while their defense contributed two points with a safety of Eli Manning. Meanwhile, New York's offense would suffer five straight three-and-outs including the aforementioned safety, while managing a grand total of only eight yards over that same span.
But, as has been the case for much of the year, their defense would attempt to bail the offense out. With 5:00 remaining, Will Hill, who was arrested on Friday night on a warrant for child support, pulled down a tipped Matthew Stafford pass and returned it 38-yards for a game-tying touchdown.
With a chance to win the game, the Giants offense would again stall on the next series despite their first first-down of the second half. Luckily, the defense continued to hold strong, and a Mathias Kiwanuka sack (two on the day) of Stafford would give Eli Manning & Co. one final chance with under a minute to go in regulation.
Alas, it was not meant to be and with under 40 seconds remaining and no timeouts, the Giants would call a shotgun draw and follow it up with a deep pass over the middle, which would be intercepted by Glover Quin. The Lions would subsequently let time expire and take the game into overtime.
The Giants would win the toss and Michael Cox opened the extra period up in a big way, returning the kickoff 57-yards and setting up the Giants offense. But with the new frame, not much changed and New York would cough up the ball on an Andre Brown fumble — although, to his credit, his arm did appear down before the ball came loose. He would also then be carted off the field with what appeared to be both a concussion and leg injury.
On the Lions' next offensive series, a hobbled Justin Tuck & Co. would do their job, giving the ball back to a Kevin Gilbride's struggling unit on what you had to assume would be their final opportunity to put the game away.
And put the game away they did. Josh Brown would ultimately connect on a game-winning 45-yard field goal, giving Big Blue a 23-20 win at Ford Field.
"That was a very, very nice ending for guys who worked their butts off this week," Coughlin said.
The Giants improve to 6-9, while the Lions fall to 7-8 and find themselves officially eliminated from playoff contention.
The Giants will end their season next Sunday against the Washington Redskins (3-12), while the Lions will close out their 2013 campaign against the Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1).
- The Giants dropped three interceptions — two for Trumaine McBride and one for Prince Amukamara.
- Jerrel Jernigan's second quarter touchdown was the first of his NFL career.
- Eli Manning set a Giants franchise record throwing his 26th interception of the season.
- The Giants extended their streak of at least one turnover in every single game this season (only team in the league to do so).
- Due to an overwhelming number of injuries to their running backs, tight end Bear Pascoe received his first career carry.
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