- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The drive of the game was a Denver Broncos drive, but it could have been a New York Giants drive the other way if they'd been able to get control of the ball on its first play. Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard touchdown run had just cut the Broncos' lead to 17-16 with 3:08 left in the third quarter. And on first down from his own 20, Peyton Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for a 16-yard gain. But the ball popped out of Thomas' hands at the end of the play, and it was up for grabs.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara was the one defending Thomas, and he got his hands on the ball, but he couldn't hold it, and Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno came up with it at the Denver 32. Had Amukamara (or some other Giant) been able to get and keep the ball, the Giants would have had a fresh drive starting from the Broncos' 30-35-yard line and all kinds of momentum.
Instead, Manning went back to work. Two plays later, he connected with Eric Decker to convert a third-and-8. Then he hit Decker for 19 yards to get the ball to the Giants' 33. Moreno picked up 3 yards on first down. Mathias Kiwanuka got flagged for a 5-yard offsides penalty on second. And then on second-and-2 from the Giants' 25-yard line, Moreno got around the edge and into the end zone for his second long touchdown run of the day.
"There were contain issues on those two plays," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of that Moreno touchdown and the 20-yard one earlier in the game that looked so similar. "There was no one up on the edge. Nobody added a contain element to the defense."
When it happened for the second time, it put the Broncos up by eight points. And left the Giants thinking it should have been their ball in the first place.
23hMorty Ain and Stevland Wilson