Monday, December 30, 2013
Drive of the Game: Eli Manning's last stand
By Dan Graziano
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He would finish neither the game nor the second quarter. And the final pass of his season, just like the first, was intercepted. But Eli Manning's final touchdown pass of 2013 gave the New York Giants a 7-3 lead Sunday in a game that, to that point, hadn't offered even the threat of a touchdown. It was a 24-yard strike to Jerrel Jernigan that capped a six-play, 75-yard drive.
The Redskins converted an Andre Brown fumble into a field goal for the game's first points, and with 8:16 left in the first half, Michael Cox returned the ensuing kickoff to the 25-yard line. Manning threw incomplete to Hakeem Nicks on first down. On second down, Peyton Hillis (in at running back for fumbly Brown) ran 13 yards for a first down. Hillis got three more on the next play, then Manning hit Jernigan over the middle for a 30-yard gain that set the Giants up at the Redskins' 29. Hillis picked up five on the next play, then Manning threw a perfect laser to the end zone, where Jernigan outfought two defenders for his second touchdown catch in as many weeks.
Manning sprained his ankle later in the second quarter and left the game. Jernigan stayed in and picked up a 49-yard rushing touchdown in the second half to cap a stellar late-December turn as the replacement for an injured Victor Cruz in the Giants' offense. When Manning returns next year, he's unlikely to have Nicks, and it remains to be seen whether Jernigan can or will take a larger role in the offense. This could just have been a wild couple of plays at the tail end of a lost season no one wants to remember. But for this one drive, Manning and his makeshift offense clicked, moved the ball 75 yards and took a lead they would not relinquish.