Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Drive of the Game: Flash of competence
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Little bit of slim pickings here on this. Monday night's game was horribly played by both teams, as you've no doubt heard. The "drive" on which the New York Giants took control was a two-play, three-yard job in the third quarter after the Vikings fumbled a punt. So for the Drive of the Game, we go back to the second quarter, with the Giants trailing 7-3 having given up their third punt-return touchdown of the year and still wondering if they'd ever get to win and feel good about themselves again.
With 13:07 left in the first half, the Giants got the ball at their own 18-yard line. Eli Manning hit fullback John Conner for a seven-yard pass to start it. Two plays later, a 12-yarder to Victor Cruz converted a third down (something the Giants hadn't done at all in their first five games but have done better in the last two). Manning hit Cruz again on the next play for 11 to get them near midfield, and a couple of so-so run plays set up a third-and five from the Vikings' 47.
Manning then aired one out to struggling wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who could not come down with the ball but did draw a pass interference penalty against Vikings safety Xavier Rhodes. That moved the ball to the 24-yard line, and on the next play Manning threw it toward Rueben Randle in the corner of the end zone.
Now, Randle was "covered" on the play by Vikings cornerback Chris Cook. And the ball was underthrown, to an extent that would have allowed Cook to intercept it or knock it down if he'd seen it. But Randle saw it first, leaped in the air behind Cook and reached down to pluck the ball out from in front of Cook's face. Great play by Randle, saving Manning from an interception and giving the Giants a 10-7 lead they would never relinquish.