Ahmad Bradshaw did what he set out to do -- put the Giants on his back and lead them to victory.
Bradshaw had a career-high three touchdowns -- all from 1-yard out -- and notched his first 100-yard rushing game of the season as the Giants beat the Bills, 27-24, on Sunday afternoon to improve to 4-2 heading into their bye week.
“Every play they call my heart’s all in it: every down every play,” said Bradshaw, who finished one touchdown shy of tying the team rushing record (four) set by Rodney Hampton against New Orleans on Sept. 24, 1995. “So whatever they call I am going to stick with it. They do a great job of calling great plays and all I can do is just run.”
The 25-year-old running back finished with 104 yards on a season-high 26 carries and became the first Giant to have three 1-yard rushing TDs in a game since Ottis Anderson also had three back on Dec. 4, 1988, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The last Giant to score three rushing TDs in a game was Brandon Jacobs on Dec. 21, 2008 against Carolina
“[Ahmad] is an inspiration by the energy and the way he plays,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “He is a tough, hard-nosed guy who wants the ball and will do what you ask him to do from a blocking standpoint. He is very competitive and from the standpoint of wanting to play according to the example he sets, it is a good one.”
Prior to Sunday afternoon, Bradshaw hadn’t rushed for as many as 100 yards since Dec. 13, 2010 in Minnesota. He didn’t get off to a great start against Buffalo, but the fifth-year veteran certainly turned it up a notch when it counted -- in the fourth quarter.
With the score tied at 24, 3:24 remaining and the Giants facing a second-and-7 from their own 33, Bradshaw ran left for 30 yards on a misdirection play. His longest run of the day -- and second-longest run of the season -- put the Giants in Buffalo territory and eventually led to the game-winning field goal less than two minutes later.
“It split wide open and Mario Manningham came on a block on the safety,” Bradshaw said. “I was just able to make the corner miss and use my speed from there.”
Of course, when he wasn’t using his speed, Bradshaw was using his power to thrust over the goal line. The most spectacular of his trio of 1-yard TD runs came in the third with 6:59 left, when he jumped over the pile of offensive linemen in front of him to get into the endzone. His third and final score led to his third and final twirling spike celebration of the day.
“It was kind of cloudy at the bottom and I have been visualizing it all week, how I was going to go over the top if I had to,” Bradshaw said, “and I just tried to use my athletic ability to get over the top and get the ball over the line.”
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Giants’ running game was largely ineffective. In fact, Bradshaw came into Sunday afternoon’s game averaging a modest 57.2 rushing yards per contest.
To he and the rest of the Giants’ offensive line, those numbers were unacceptable. So they went out and did something about it -- even without the help of Jacobs.
“Oh man, he is my big brother,” Bradshaw said of Jacobs, who is still out with a sprained MCL. “I had a brother that passed away when I was 10 and I look at him as the same way. I look up to him and we have each other. To have him here, it’s all love.”
Said center David Baas: “We just gotta open things up and create holes for them, because they’re going to make great things happen when we give them opportunities.”
Said left guard David Diehl: “It just shows what we’re capable of doing. We made a conscious effort this week to get the run game going. We knew that if we just pushed a little harder and maintained our blocks a little longer, things would go our way.”
Thanks to Bradshaw, they did.
“Anytime I have a chance to try to put this team on my back and keep making plays, that is what i plan to do,” Bradshaw said. “Anytime they give me a shot I try to take advantage of it. ... My hat goes off to [our linemen]. We’ve worked hard all week and I think we were successful [Sunday].”