NFC East: 2012 Week 5 Rapid Reaction

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants hadn’t even broken a sweat yet and found themselves down 14-0 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. But once the defending champs got warmed up, they routed the winless Browns 41-27.

What it means: The Giants took care of business and won a game they had to have with a brutal schedule ahead of them. The Giants are 3-2 through their first five games, but their final 11 games will be against division foes or playoff teams from last year.

Bottom line: The Giants had to win this one, and they got the job done with several key starters or contributors out for the game.

Quick turnaround: There’s something about these 1 p.m. home starts for the Giants against an inferior opponent. Last season, the Giants struggled at home against Seattle, Washington and then-winless Miami.

On Sunday, the Giants fell behind 14-0 less than five minutes into the game. Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled on the first offensive play of the game to set up Cleveland’s first touchdown. And then Brandon Weeden hit Josh Gordon on a 62-yard touchdown bomb on middle linebacker Chase Blackburn.

But the Giants outscored Cleveland 27-3, including the last 20 points of the first half, to go into halftime up 27-17.

Salsa time: With Hakeem Nicks out, Victor Cruz picked up the slack, scoring three touchdowns.

In fact, the Giants' receivers all stepped up. With Ramses Barden also out with a concussion, Domenik Hixon and Rueben Randle saw plenty of action. Randle had five receptions for 78 yards and Hixon had four catches for 48 in the first half, respectively.

Stevie Wonder: Starting in place of the injured Kenny Phillips (knee), Stevie Brown had quite a first half. He intercepted an overthrown pass by Weeden and returned it 46 yards to give the Giants the ball at the Browns’ 40. Two plays later, the Giants scored to tie the game at 17 in the second quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Will Hill forced a Josh Cribbs fumble and Brown recovered and took it to the Browns’ 29-yard line. Eli Manning hit Cruz for the second time in the end zone to put the Giants up 24-17 with 1:10 remaining in the half.

Brown has done very well filling in. He had a pick against Carolina coming in for Rolle and should continue to start for Phillips, who could miss next week’s game with an MCL injury.

The Giants do have to make a roster move on Monday to make room for Tyler Sash, who has served his four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Angry Ahmad: Bradshaw may have fumbled his first carry of the game, but he ran angry and hard for not only his first 100-yard game of the season but also a career-high 200 yards.

Andre Brown was knocked out of the game early with a head injury, but Bradshaw had 80 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Bradshaw's neck looks just fine. And David Wilson scored his first touchdown in explosive fashion -- a 40-yard run spelling Bradshaw.

What’s next: It’s an NFC Championship Game rematch as the Giants travel to San Francisco for a highly anticipated reunion with the Niners, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs.

PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' last-second loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.

What it means: A taste of their own medicine, as the Eagles lost the close game this time after the Steelers one-upped them on fourth-quarter drives. It was a sloppy game all around, and a tough loss in a tough place to play. But if you were waiting for the day all of the Eagles' mistakes were going to cost them one of these one-point or two-point games, Sunday was the day. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was impressive late, but he was awful enough in the first half to dig the Eagles a hole from which they could not escape.

Tale of two QBs: Vick was 7-for-12 for 70 yards in the first half, and he also rushed four times for 11 yards and lost two fumbles. Philadelphia trailed 10-0 at the half, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had just put on a clinic in responsible, efficient quarterbacking with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 7:21 off the clock. It was a study in critical contrast. But out of nowhere in the fourth quarter, Vick and the Eagles topped it with a 17-play, 79-yard drive that bled 8:18 off the clock and gave them their first lead of the game with 6:33 left to play. On the drive, Vick was 7-for-10 for 57 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek. The Eagles converted two fourth downs and two third downs on the drive, including a third-and-goal from the 2. Had they played offense this way all game, they may have actually won somewhat easily.

For the defense: Roethlisberger was able to find some things in the Eagles' secondary, showcasing what an important part pressure plays in the Eagles' defensive schemes. Nnamdi Asomugha is not winning consistently enough in man coverage, and Antonio Brown had some fun against the Eagles' defensive backs. Philadelphia also struggled to contain Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall in his first game of the season, and they were unable to make the stops they needed to make on the drive that moved the Steelers into field goal range at the end of the game. For the second game in a row, the Eagles did not record a sack.

What's next: The Eagles host the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. The Lions (1-3) have lost three games in a row and are coming off their bye week. It will be the second consecutive week in which the Eagles' opponent was off the week before.

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