- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Finally a running game? In his first game back since breaking his leg in the preseason finale, Andre Brown ran for 115 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. His previous career high for carries in a single game had been 20. But Brown played considerably better than any running back has all year for the Giants. He hit holes with confidence. He kept his legs moving and pushed the pile after contact. He held onto the ball. He showed vision and power and speed, and with David Wilson out for the year, he looks like easily the best option in the Giants' backfield the rest of the way -- as long as he can stay healthy.
For the defense: It was a third straight very good game for the Giants' defense, which has been feasting on lousy opposing quarterbacks but did a good job of limiting the one major way in which the Raiders' Terrelle Pryor could hurt them. Pryor rushed for just 19 yards on five carries and threw for just 122 yards on 11-of-26 passing. The Giants held the Raiders to 213 total yards and held them out of the end zone after they had first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the third quarter. After Eli Manning had an interception returned for a touchdown late in the first half, the defensive players rallied at halftime and challenged each other, asking, "Who's going to be the one to make a play?" It was cornerback Terrell Thomas with the third-quarter interception that tilted the momentum.
Return of JPP? Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had his second sack of the season (which was also his second in a span of 16 games going back to last season). He injured his shoulder on the next play but returned to the game. The Giants hope the shoulder problem won't limit him, as he said he felt he was turning a corner and ready for a big second half of the season. Justin Tuck played very well at the other defensive end position Sunday, but a high-level Pierre-Paul performance in the second half would enable the Giants to feel good about their chances once the schedule does toughen up.
Not all bright: Manning still looks lost and uncomfortable at quarterback. The interception was a terrible misread, and he missed a wide-open Victor Cruz near the goal line a bit later on. Hakeem Nicks remains a nonfactor at receiver, as he had just 49 yards on four catches and still hasn't scored a touchdown this season. And the special teams, which had a fumble on a kickoff return, allowed a punt block and can't cover on kicks or punts, remains one of the worst units in the league. Somehow the Giants managed to have a terrible day on special teams in spite of Damontre Moore's blocked punt that Cooper Taylor returned for a touchdown.