A Look Back: Manning to Cruz
October, 23, 2012
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
Andrew Mills/US PresswireVictor Cruz served up some salsa on Sunday afternoon against the Redskins.EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just shake it off.
That's Eli Manning's mantra after he makes a mistake -- whether it's minor or one that could cost the Giants a game.
"That’s a very, very strong suit of his," Tom Coughlin says.
And that's a good thing for both Coughlin and the Giants, because Manning was forced to draw on that "strong suit" several times last Sunday.
First, Manning threw a third-quarter interception deep in Redskins territory. Then, with about seven minutes to play in the fourth, Manning threw another pick. This one came on the first play from scrimmage following a Jason Pierre-Paul forced fumble. The Giants were up, 20-13, at the time and had a chance to put the game away.
"That was our opportunity right there," Manning said of his INT on a poor throw to Hakeem Nicks. "We could have won the game. We could have finished it."
But Manning's pick gave Washington life. The Redskins reeled off 10 unanswered points in a little over four minutes to go up, 23-20.
Fortunately for the Giants, though, Manning was able to shake off the costly pick.
With the ball in his hands and under 90 seconds to play, Manning hit a streaking Victor Cruz in the middle of the field for a 77-yard, game-winning touchdown.
Manning said Cruz had options on the play. The Redskins safety played close to the line, guarding against a route to the outer third of the field, so Cruz knew he had an opportunity up the seam.
Maybe Washington thought the Giants would play it conservatively, running a route to the sideline to stop the clock. But New York had all three timeouts left. So giving Cruz the middle of the field was a costly error.
"I don’t get many opportunities for the middle of the field to open up like that and me run through nowadays. So whenever I see that, I’m definitely taking advantage of it," Cruz said.
And he did just that, burning the Redskins' secondary for the longest game-winning touchdown with under two minutes to play in Giants history. He also helped Eli turn the page on what -- to that point -- had been a mostly forgettable afternoon.
"Thankfully, we got another opportunity with enough time on the clock to go win the game and we stepped up in that situation," Manning said. "It made up for the missed opportunity."