Monday, December 10, 2012
Drive of the game: An unlikely hero
By Kieran Darcy
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the Giants opened the second half with touchdowns on their first two possessions on Sunday, taking a 35-13 lead over the Saints, many people probably thought the game was over.
Just a few minutes later, the score was 35-27, and we hadn't even reached the fourth quarter.
The Saints suddenly had all the momentum on their side. But the Giants snatched it back, in a critical sequence starting late in the third quarter.
Most of the yardage was accumulated on the very first play -- a 60-yard kickoff return by Jerrel Jernigan.
The second-year wide receiver, the Giants' third-round draft pick in 2011, hasn't made much of an impact in the NFL yet, with just two receptions for 15 yards. But he made one of the biggest plays of the game on Sunday.
The Saints decided to kick the ball short, after David Wilson had kickoff returns of 97, 58 and 52 yards in the first half. But Jernigan, fielding the ball at the 15, found a seam up the middle and raced all the way to the Saints' 25-yard line, putting the Giants in prime scoring position.
The Giants finished out the third quarter with three straight runs by Ahmad Bradshaw, which netted a first down. Then, on the second play of the fourth quarter, Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz on a 10-yard touchdown, making the score 42-27.
The game wasn't over just yet. Drew Brees' interception on the Saints' next drive was the final nail in the coffin.
But the Jernigan return, followed by the Cruz touchdown, gave the Giants control of the game again, for good.