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3 things we learned about the Giants

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NEW ORLEANS – Drew Brees has played video-game football before, but by throwing for 511 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns in the New Orleans Saints’ 52-49 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, Brees showed the rest of the NFL what pure beast mode look like.

Brees tied an NFL record with his seven touchdown throws, and he and Giants quarterback Eli Manning (30 of 41 for 350 yards and six TDs) combined for an NFL-record 13 scoring passes. However, it was placekicker Kai Forbath who decided the outcome by nailing a 50-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints, who started the season 1-4, to their third consecutive victory.

“I’ve never been a part of something like that,” said Brees, who led the Saints on a 14-play, 80-yard march in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 49 with a 9-yard scoring pass to running back C.J. Spiller. “When you reflect on it, it’s pretty wild, with that much scoring and that many yards on both sides. We were just in the flow of the game. Every time we got the ball, it was just a sense of urgency, being efficient and going down and scoring points.”

The Saints rolled up 614 yards and 36 first downs and had six touchdown drives of at least 80 yards against the Giants. But it took a wild sequence in the final 36 seconds to set up the improbable victory after New York had rallied from a 42-28 deficit to take a 49-42 lead with 21 fourth-quarter points.

With the game tied 49-49, the Giants took over at their 20-yard line with 36 seconds remaining. They gained 5 yards in three plays — using a pair of timeouts — and Brad Wing was forced to punt with 20 seconds left.

The Giants didn’t instruct Wing to punt out of bounds, and Saints’ returner Marcus Murphy fielded the 46-yard punt near the left sidelines and returned it 24 yards to the Giants’ 47, where he was hit and coughed up the ball.

Saints wide receiver Willie Snead alertly hauled in the fumble in mid-air, but on the tackle, Wing grabbed Snead’s facemask, drawing a flag with five seconds remaining.

After the officials huddled, referee Craig Wrolstad initially waved off the flag, meaning the Saints would have the ball near midfield with time for a Hail Mary pass. But Wrolstad then enforced the original facemask call, moving the ball to the Giants’ 32. That set up Forbath for the game-winner.

“He was outstanding,” said New Orleans coach Sean Payton of Forbath, signed just three weeks ago. “Brees had seven touchdowns, and we told them the game ball was going to the kicker.”

What we learned about the Giants:

1. Until the Giants get CB Prince Amukamara and DE Jason Pierre Paul back from their injuries, they are destined to struggle on defense. The Giants have a weak front four, and they did not get a sack against Drew Brees. They entered the game tied for 29th in total defense, allowing 410.3 yards a game, and they yielded 511 to the Saints. “We did pretty much everything we could do on the offensive side of the ball and we got a defensive TD,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It should have been enough, but it wasn’t enough.”

2. Eli Manning, who has won two Super Bowls, will have to carry the Giants if they intend to make the playoffs. At 4-4, the Giants are still atop the NFC East, but a victory yesterday would have made the road a lot easier. “I thought our offensive line protected well and we had good run-pass action, the receivers were winning the one-on-ones,” Manning said. “We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of plays. We were able to convert on some third downs, convert some fourth downs. It’s a tough one to bite on right now.”

3. Odell Beckham Jr., a native of New Orleans, is continuing to show he can be an NFL star. Beckham caught three TD passes — for 2, 1 and 50 yards — and finished with eight catches for 130 yards. Beckham prepped at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans before playing collegiately at LSU. “It was great to come back here and play in the Dome,” Beckham said. “It was only the second time I’ve had the opportunity to play here, and both losses were equally as bad. It’s just not fun losing.”

Etc.:

–QB Eli Manning shined despite the Giants’ injury woes. He lost TE Larry Donnell and RG Geoff Schwartz during the game, and WR Dwayne Harris also left the game for a time with ankle and back injuries. But Manning threw for 350 yards on 30-of-41 passing and six TDs. One of his best throws was an across-the-field toss to Harris for a touchdown on fourth down.

–CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the Giants’ only reliable corner — at least until Prince Amukamara returns. DRC left for one play after being dinged, and his replacement, Trevin Wade, was beaten by Brandon Cooks for a 26-yard TD. DRC forced a fumble with tough hit on Saints WR Willie Snead that was converted into the Giants’ go-ahead TD.

–The LSU connection of WRs Odell Beckham Jr. (8-130) and Rueben Randle (5-55) combined for 13 catches for 185 yards. Beckham was impressive on two easy rub routes that resulted in two TD catches and then got behind the Saints secondary for a 50-yard score. “He did a good job fighting through the route and getting open and going to get the ball,” QB Eli Manning said of Beckham.


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