Saturday, December 24, 2011
Cruz changes game with 99-yard touchdown
By Matt Ehalt
Heading into Saturday's game, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said he didn't know who Victor Cruz was. By the end of the contest, the Giants receiver -- who had perhaps the biggest play of the Giants' season -- thinks that my have changed.
"I think he has a slight clue," Cruz said with a laugh.
Cruz's 99-yard touchdown momentum changed the momentum of Saturday's game and propelled the Giants to their 29-14 win over the Jets. The score, the longest play in Giants history, gave the team a 10-7 lead that it would never relinquish in its pivotal victory.
With his 164 receiving yards in the game, Cruz also surpassed Amani Toomer as the Giants' all-time single-season receiving yards leader, as he now has 1,358 receiving yards on the year. Toomer had the previous record with 1,343 yards.
"It feels crazy coming from where I am from and coming through what I came through and playing all these games and stuff, it's just been surreal for me man," Cruz said of the record. "I'm just happy my teammates were behind me and my coaching staff believed in me and just happy to be here."
If there's one play that perhaps changed the Giants' season, it occurred with 2:27 left in the second quarter. The Giants trailed 7-3 and faced a 3rd-and-10 at their own 1-yard line. Cruz ran a hook route at the first-down marker, catching the ball at the 11-yard line and then he made his moves into the history book.
As he started up the field, he eluded a tackle from Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie before starting down the sideline. Jets safety Eric Smith tried to get Cruz from an angle but he missed on his dive, as Cruz jumped and avoided Smith. From there, Cruz outran Donald Strickland to the end zone to give the Giants a 10-7 lead with 2:12 left in the half.
"We had some issues obviously with our receiving corps and I thought he was the one guy that could give us the kind if play and he certainly did give us that kind of play," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "He almost earlier did the same kind of thing so we all got a tremendous life when he went coast to coast."
While Cruz's big catch changed the game, all three of his catches led to points. In the second quarter, he again shook free from a defender for a 29-yard gain that ultimately led to a field goal that sliced the Jets' lead to 7-3. In the third quarter, his 36-yard catch down the sideline gave the Giants the ball in Jets territory and his team scored two plays later to take a 17-7 lead.
Cruz had three catches for 164 yards and it marked the sixth time this season that he has topped 100 yards.
"During the early part of the game, all the Jets fans you could see them swinging those towels," Cruz said. "But I think after that (touchdown) play, you could hear the Giants fans a little bit and the Cruz chants and it was just good have a momentum swing to our favor."