Rapid Reaction: Giants 27, Redskins 23

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning had an off day, but he saved his best for last, throwing a 77-yard touchdown strike to Victor Cruz with 1:13 left to lift the Giants over the Redskins 27-23 in a crucial NFC East showdown.

What it means: The Giants avoided what could have been a disastrous 0-3 division start. They needed an exciting comeback to do so, though.

After watching Robert Griffin III convert a fourth-and-10 by scrambling all over the place and then later a 24-yard scramble that helped set up a touchdown pass to Santana Moss, the Giants answered with Manning's bomb to Cruz for the win.

Second-half defense: Chris Canty returned off the physically unable to perform list and started the game at defensive tackle. But the Giants struggled to stop the run early on.

Rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 94 yards, and the Redskins gained 146 yards on the ground in the first half alone. Griffin also broke a handful of runs for large gains.

But in the second half, the Giants stepped up and forced a Morris fumble and then intercepted Griffin on back-to-back Redskins possessions.

Midway through the fourth, the Giants stopped a Redskins drive as Jason Pierre-Paul forced a Griffin fumble on his second sack of the game. When the Redskins got the ball back at the Giants' 32 on the next play with an interception, the Giants' defense held the Redskins to a field goal.

Griffin beat the Giants' defense on what appeared to be a game-winning drive, but Manning answered. RG3 then could not duplicate his scoring drive, as the Giants' defense came up with a game-clinching fumble recovery.

Linval Joseph had a strong game with a forced fumble and fumble recovery, and Justin Tuck registered his first sack and celebratory bow of the season.

Off Eli: Manning was off. He missed a wide-open Cruz in the end zone in the first half and later overthrew Cruz on a bomb early in the third.

Then he threw an interception inside the Giants' 20 on a pass that appeared to be intended for Martellus Bennett. And then up 20-13 with seven minutes left following a huge Griffin fumble, Manning threw a pass on first down right to linebacker Rob Jackson for an interception at the Giants' 32-yard line.

Manning salvaged the day with his big touchdown at the end.

Brown returns: Andre Brown returned from a concussion and scored on a 1-yard touchdown leap. Ahmad Bradshaw entered the game red-hot with two straight 100-yard games, but Brown got the goal-line carries in the first half. Bradshaw carried the ball at the goal line in the second half and scored on a 1-yard touchdown.

What's next: The Giants stay in the NFC East and travel to Dallas. It's a critical game since the Giants already lost to Dallas at home in the season opener.