- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the first seven games of the season, Giants wideout Victor Cruz had 50 receptions (7.1 per game) for 627 yards (89.6 per game) and seven touchdowns.
Over the past five games, Cruz has 18 receptions (3.6 per game) for 256 yards (51.2 per game) and one touchdown.
But Cruz thinks the offense is on the verge of a breakthrough, getting back to making big plays on a more regular basis.
"There were a couple of plays (against the Redskins) that if we hit those plays on Monday it probably changes the complexion of the game," Cruz said Wednesday. "We are almost there."
"Yeah, we are close," said quarterback Eli Manning. "Just missed Hakeem (Nicks) on one, just missed Victor on one. Hit a couple down the middle to Vic and Martellus (Bennett) and hit Vic on another one. We were able to get the ball downfield a little bit more which was nice, hit some big plays. Hopefully we can continue to do that and hit a few more."
The Giants should be able to do so on Sunday, against a New Orleans defense that is giving up 440.5 yards per game -- the worst mark in the NFL.
Big Blue lost to the Saints 49-24 last season. But Manning did throw for 406 yards, and Cruz had nine catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
"There’s definitely opportunities there and things that we feel like we can take advantage of," said Cruz. "It is just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities when we get them."
Manning thinks he can win a shootout against the Saints' prolific passing attack, led by Drew Brees.
"I feel confident about our offense that we can go score, that we have the playmakers to move the ball whether we’re running it or throwing it," Manning said. "We can be a high-powered offense and score a lot of points if that’s what the game calls for."
4dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan