NFL: Manning’s 77-yarder to Cruz rallies Giants, 27-23
Published: October 21, 2012 04:32PM
Updated: October 23, 2012 06:00PM
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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

East Rutherford, N.J. • In a duel of clutch playmakers, Eli Manning had the last big trick to beat Robert Griffin III.

Eli Manning threw a 77-yard scoring pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play and the New York Giants overcame a late touchdown toss by rookie sensation Robert Griffin III to defeat the Washington Redskins 27-23 on Sunday.

Manning’s pass to Cruz came two plays and 19 seconds after Griffin capped what was a potential game-winning, 77-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown toss to Santana Moss. The rookie had kept the drive alive with a 19-yard pass off a desperate scramble on a fourth-and-10 play deep in his own territory and a 24-yard run on the next play.

Cruz, however, blew by Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams and the more than 80,000 fans in MetLife Stadium celebrated as Manning triumphantly pumped his fist once again after another fourth-quarter comeback.

Griffin had Washington moving for another score when Moss was tackled by Chase Blackburn after an 11-yard reception and rookie Jayron Hosley recovered at the Washington 43.

The victory was the third straight for the Giants (5-2) and it prevented Washington (3-4) from moving into a first-place tie in the NFC East.

The Redskins and their rookie sensation were oh-so-close to being tied for the lead, and Manning’s improbable big play capped a wild second half that saw both quarterbacks make major mistakes.

Ahmad Bradshaw and Andrew Brown scored on 1-yard runs and Lawrence Tynes kicked a pair of field goals for the Giants, who won despite giving up nearly 500 yards in total offense.

Griffin was 20 of 28 for 258 yards and two touchdowns, both to Moss, and ran for another 89 yards on nine carries, Fellow rookie Alfred Morris gained 120 yards rushing.

Manning hit 26 of 40 passes for 337 yards and a touchdown for New York, which had 396 yards in total offense, with the biggest chunk coming on Manning’s pass to Mr. Salsa.

Before the wild finish, the second half was dominated by turnovers.

Griffin was picked off by safety Stevie Brown and his 41-yard return late in the third quarter set up Bradshaw’s 1-yard plow-job into the end zone, a play which was reviewed.

Griffin moved Washington into position to tie the game on the next possession, but he fumbled after being sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph recovered the ensuring fumble at the Giants 29.

On the next play from scrimmage, linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted a quick out by Manning and Forbath kicked a 45-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 20-16 with 5:21 to go.

The Giants were forced to punt on their next series and Washington got the ball back at its 23. After gaining nothing in three plays, Griffin went back to pass on fourth down, eluded Pierre-Paul and then danced around long enough to find tight end Logan Paulsen for a 19-yard gain and a first down at the 42. The 24-yard scamper got the ball to the New York 34 and two plays later Moss beat Hosley and hauled in Griffin’s perfect pass as Griffin lay on his back and celebrated like a snow angel.

Manning and Cruz spoiled the afternoon seconds later.

There were seven offensive possessions in the first half that resulted in 439 total yards, six scores and a 13-13 tie.

The Giants had the odd possession that didn’t result in a tally. And even then, they took the opening kickoff and drove to the Washington 36 before a false start on a fourth-and-a-half-yard caused a punt.

Other than that, it was long drives with Washington doing the majority of work on the ground and New York going through the air.

Ironically, Griffin threw the only touchdown pass of the half, hitting Moss on a well-conceived 26-yard, third-down screen pass. Forbath had field goals of 20 and 43 yards.

Andre Brown scored New York’s first-half touchdown powering through a goal-line tackle by London Fletcher. Tynes kicked field goals of 27 and 39 yards, with the latter one tying the game at 13 with 2 seconds left in the half.