FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- The New York Giants and New England Patriots got together for their first meaningful game since Super Bowl XLII and it was another classic. And Eli Manning got the better of Tom Brady again.
What it means: The Giants opened a brutal six-game stretch of their schedule by playing their best game of the season. The Giants allowed Brady to find Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown on a fourth-and-9 from the Giants' 14 to push the Patriots up 20-17. But Manning drove the Giants down for the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds remaining, hitting Jake Ballard on a 1-yard touchdown pass, a score that was helped by a pass interference call against New England on Victor Cruz at the Patriots' 1.
Fantastic Finish: The Giants have lived dangerously this season, so it was no surprised that their sixth straight game went down to the fourth quarter.
Down 13-10, Manning drove the Giants down for a go-ahead touchdown when he hit Mario Manningham on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone with 3:03 left. Manningham also drew a key pass interference on the drive for a gain of 35 yards.
But Brady marched the Patriots right down to the Giants' 14-yard-line and, on fourth down, he hit Gronkowski for a touchdown on Michael Boley with 1:36 left to push the Patriots up 20-17. Gronkowski gave Boley a slight shove to get free, but there was no flag.
But Manning did it again to the Patriots.
Terrible Tom: The Giants' defense, which has had difficulties this season against the run and no huddle, managed to get the better of Brady for 2½ quarters. Brady threw two interceptions and was hit as he was attempting a pass, resulting in a fumble that set up a Brandon Jacobs' touchdown in the third quarter. That put the Giants up 10-3.
The Giants did a good job of disguising their defense, changing things up and switching defenders on receivers. But it didn’t last as Brady started getting comfortable near the end of the third quarter and led the Patriots to 10 unanswered points early in the fourth.
Costly mistakes: With a second-and-goal at the Patriots’ 2-yard-line, the Giants were called for a delay of game. Two plays later on a third-and-5 at the Patriots’ 5-yard-line, a backpedaling Manning lofted a ball to the back left corner of the end zone that was intercepted by Kyle Arrington. Instead of getting at least a field goal to add to a 10-3 lead, the Giants gave the Pats the ball.
Defensive battle: The Giants and Patriots played to the first scoreless half in the NFL this season. While the Giants' defense played well, Brady didn't look comfortable. Part of it was due to the Giants' pass rush and Perry Fewell moving defenders around to give him different looks. But Brady also missed a wide open Aaron Hernandez in the end zone and the usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski missed a 27-yard field goal just before the end of the half.
The Giants were able to keep New England from hitting on big plays and they switched defenders on Brady's receivers often. Both teams combined to go 3-for-14 on third downs in the first half.
What's next: The Giants' torturous schedule continues as they travel to San Francisco, where the 49ers are no longer a treat to face. The Niners are 7-1 under Jim Harbaugh, and Frank Gore will be difficult for the Giants to stop.