EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants hadn’t even broken a sweat yet and found themselves down 14-0 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. But once the defending champs got warmed up, they routed the winless Browns 41-27.
What it means: The Giants took care of business and won a game they had to have with a brutal schedule ahead of them. The Giants are 3-2 through their first five games, but their final 11 games will be against division foes or playoff teams from last year.
Bottom line: The Giants had to win this one, and they got the job done with several key starters or contributors out for the game.
Quick turnaround: There’s something about these 1 p.m. home starts for the Giants against an inferior opponent. Last season, the Giants struggled at home against Seattle, Washington and then-winless Miami.
On Sunday, the Giants fell behind 14-0 less than five minutes into the game. Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled on the first offensive play of the game to set up Cleveland’s first touchdown. And then Brandon Weeden hit Josh Gordon on a 62-yard touchdown bomb on middle linebacker Chase Blackburn.
But the Giants outscored Cleveland 27-3, including the last 20 points of the first half, to go into halftime up 27-17.
In fact, the Giants' receivers all stepped up. With Ramses Barden also out with a concussion, Domenik Hixon and Rueben Randle saw plenty of action. Randle had five receptions for 78 yards and Hixon had four catches for 48 in the first half, respectively.
Stevie Wonder: Starting in place of the injured Kenny Phillips (knee), Stevie Brown had quite a first half. He intercepted an overthrown pass by Weeden and returned it 46 yards to give the Giants the ball at the Browns’ 40. Two plays later, the Giants scored to tie the game at 17 in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Will Hill forced a Josh Cribbs fumble and Brown recovered and took it to the Browns’ 29-yard line. Eli Manning hit Cruz for the second time in the end zone to put the Giants up 24-17 with 1:10 remaining in the half.
Brown has done very well filling in. He had a pick against Carolina coming in for Rolle and should continue to start for Phillips, who could miss next week’s game with an MCL injury.
The Giants do have to make a roster move on Monday to make room for Tyler Sash, who has served his four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
Angry Ahmad: Bradshaw may have fumbled his first carry of the game, but he ran angry and hard for not only his first 100-yard game of the season but also a career-high 200 yards.
Andre Brown was knocked out of the game early with a head injury, but Bradshaw had 80 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Bradshaw's neck looks just fine. And David Wilson scored his first touchdown in explosive fashion -- a 40-yard run spelling Bradshaw.