Eli Manning passed for 249 yards and three touchdowns and the defense produced five sacks and a pair of turnovers as the New York Giants quieted their critics in a convincing 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.
The Giants opened the game with six-play, 74-yard drive that was highlighted by a 59-yard catch-and-run by running back Ahmad Bradshaw on a screen pass that caught the Packers in an inside blitz. Manning missed a wide-open Henry Hynoski, but Andre Brown punched the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out to give the Giants a 7-0 lead. Green Bay responded with a quick touchdown drive of its own as Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson hooked up for a 61-yard touchdown after Giants cornerback Corey Webster was caught peeking into the backfield, allowing Nelson to get behind him.
Following a three-and-out by the Giants, the Packers had an opportunity to take the lead. A 15-yard punt return by Randall Cobb gave the Packers the ball near midfield. Cobb added a 12-yard run to push into Giants' territory, but the drive would stall and head coach Mike McCarthy would call upon the struggling Mason Crosby to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which sailed wide to the left.
Taking over at their own 45-yard line, the Giants marched 55 yards in eight plays, taking another seven-point lead as Manning connected with rookie wide receiver Rueben Randle for a 16-yard touchdown. Webster would atone for his earlier mistake by intercepting Rodgers on the first play of the Packers' following possession, a turnover that the Giants would use to put three points on the scoreboard via a 43-yard field goal from Lawrence Tynes.
Thanks to a sack by Chase Blackburn on the opening play of the Packers' following possession, New York's defense would force a punt. Manning would take over, hitting Hakeem Nicks for 25 yards and then tight end Martellus Bennett for 12 more. A 10-yard run by Bradshaw set the Giants up with a first-and-10 from the Packers' 13-yard line. Facing a third-and-6, Manning found Victor Cruz for a 9-yard score that gave the Giants a 17-point lead with 9:43 to play in the first half.
Crosby would hit a 28-yard field goal on the following possession and the Packers defense would force a three-and-out, but the Giants defense got the offense the ball back when Osi Umenyiora had a strip-sack of Rodgers that was recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul at the Packers' 23-yard line. Following a 10-yard pass from Manning to Randle, Bradshaw scored on a 13-yard run to give the Giants a 31-10 lead at the half.
Late in the third quarter, Manning would toss a 12-yard touchdown to Nicks, the 200th of his career, which moves him ahead of Phil Simms for the top spot on the Giants' all-time passing touchdowns list.
"We got off to a fast start," Manning told NBC's Michele Tafoya. "That was important. That was something we wanted to do. No one had scored on them on the opening drive of a game [this season]. And we hit the screen to Ahmad, he had a big play. Our defense was getting turnovers, we jumped out — everybody, we played as a full team. That's something that we've been missing for a while. Our offense, defense, special teams all played great football."
In addition to Manning, running backs Bradshaw, Brown and 2012 first-round pick David Wilson combined for 29 carries and 135 yards and two touchdowns. Nicks was Manning's preferred target on the night, catching a game-high five passes for 77 yards. On defense, Giants defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka had a pair of sacks, with Blackburn, Umenyiora and Chris Canty also getting to Rodgers on Sunday night. Rodgers would complete 14 of 25 pass attempts for 219 yards and the Packers would get 116 yards from their running game, but they could not overcome their protection issues or the continued absences of Greg Jennings on offense. Listed as "questionable" on the injury report, Jennings would miss an eighth game on the season due to a groin injury. The club hopes to have Jennings back for next Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. As much as the offense missed Jennings, the Packers' defense struggled without outside linebacker Clay Matthews, cornerback Sam Shields and safety Charles Woodson, giving up 390 yards of total offense and allowing the Giants to convert on six of their 12 third-down conversion attempts.
With the win, the Giants erased a two-game losing streak to improve to 7-4 on the season and now hold a two-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins in the NFC East. The Giants split with the Cowboys and will have an opportunity to complete the season sweep of the Redskins on the road next Monday night. The Packers' five-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday night, but they will return to Lambeau Field for a two-game home stand against the Vikings on Dec. 2 followed by the Detroit Lions on Dec. 9. At 7-4, the Packers are currently the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, one game up on the Seattle Seahawks.