Every time the New England Patriots and New York Giants get together, something sensational happens. That held true yet again on Sunday as the Patriots put together a drive in the last two minutes to pull out a last second win over the Giants 27-26.
It all started in Week 17 of the 2007 season, with the game at the Meadowlands. The Patriots were 15-0 and arguably the best team ever, but they had to face a hungry Giants team looking to seal up a spot in the playoffs. Of course, the Patriots went on to win 38-35 to complete their perfect regular season, but the Giants got the better of them in the Super Bowl that year. In 2011 the Giants went into Foxborough and stunned the Patriots 24-20 and then got the better of them in the Super Bowl 21-17. In all those games, the road team won. The Patriots continued that trend in this one.
New England struck first with a one yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Scott Chandler. But on the ensuing possession, Odell Beckham did what he does best—make plays to remember. He got behind the defense and took a simple post pattern 87 yards into the end zone for the longest touchdown of his career. Later in the first half, after New England kicked a field goal, the Giants let a golden opportunity slip away with a fumble on the Patriots 22-yard line after a 64-yard drive. On their next possession, the Giants would get a field goal to even the game at 10. After forcing a punt, the Giants got the ball for one last drive before half. Eli Manning hit Rueben Randle for a 31-yard gain on the first play to get to the Patriots 43. Six plays later, Manning hit Dwayne Harris for a one yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone as Harris got his right foot down and dragged his left for a touchdown.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Giants got a field goal to extend their lead to 20-10. After trading punts the Patriots got a long punt return from Danny Amendola to set up shop at the Giants seven-yard line. From there, LeGarrette Blount would punch it in from a yard out. On the next drive, the Giants got another field goal and took a 23-17 lead. Then, they had their chance to really put the Patriots behind the eight ball.
On second down linebacker Jasper Brinkley caught up to Brady on a blitz and forced a fumble, which defensive lineman Marcus Kuhn recovered for the Giants, setting them up at the New England 31-yard line. From there it was all backwards as the Giants wasted a golden opportunity for points.
On the next drive, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 76 yard touchdown pass down the seam, the longest of his career. Just like that, the Patriots had the lead by a score of 24-23. After forcing a punt, New England took the ball deep into Giants territory on a 76 yard drive, but Brady threw an interception at the goal line. The Giants set up shop at their own three. Eli Manning was not fazed.
He drove the Giants on a 15 play, 86 yard drive that chewed up most of the six minutes that were left. But, with first and goal from the five yard line with 2:06 to go, Manning threw an incomplete pass to Beckham, which stopped the clock at 2:01. On second and goal Manning threw incomplete to Dwayne Harris, and the clock stopped for the two minute warning. On third and goal Manning rolled out, and nobody was open so he slid down at the 11 to set up the field goal. Josh Brown put it through and the Giants were ahead 26-24, but Brady had 1:47 left.
On first down the Patriots went deep but the ball was drastically under thrown. It looked at first like Landon Collins had come up with the game ending interception. However, it was reviewed and called incomplete. After two incomplete passes, New England faced a do or die fourth and 10. Brady hit Amendola for a 12 yard completion over the middle to keep the drive going, and got a few short gains to get down to the Giants 36. With six seconds left, Stephen Gostkowski came on to kick the deciding field goal. The two best kickers in the league were on the field today, neither with a miss this season. Gostkowski kept it that way as he got the 54 yarder to go, even though at first it looked like the kick was hooking to the left. With that kick, the Patriots held on for the one point win.
For the Patriots, it was a hard fought win but it did show that their secondary can be exploited. For the Giants, this has to be the most disappointing loss of the year so far. The Patriots came into their house, and the Giants had them on the ropes and couldn't finish despite having every chance to do so. From the turnover in the first half to the fumble recovery in the second half to the drive inside the New England five down one point and the fourth and ten on the Patriots last drive, they had their chances to win but once again could not get it done.
Bad clock management got them yet again. If they had run the ball on first and goal from the five, the clock would have rolled down to the two minute warning or forced New England to use their last timeout. Either way, after third down the Giants could have run 40 more seconds off the clock. However, they didn’t and left Brady too much time to work with. The Giants now sit just a half game ahead of both the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles as they head into their bye week. This team should be much better than 5-5, and could easily be 9-1 right now. Yet, they still lead the division because of the general mediocrity of the NFC East, which is what they have to be thankful for. Another good sign is that the pass rush looked good for maybe the first time all season.
Next week the Patriots will host the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football as they compete with the Cincinnati Bengals for the top spot in the AFC while the Giants sit.