By Patricia Traina
For the SportsXchange
East Rutherford, N.J.-Giants quarterback Eli Manning made up for three first-half interceptions that put his team down by 11 by throwing two fourth quarter touchdown passes, and engineering the game winning drive with 31 seconds left to give the Giants a 41-34 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium.
Manning, who finished the game with 510 passing yards, the franchise's second best single game performance behind Phil Simms' mark of 513 set on Oct. 13, 1985, finished with three touchdowns to balance out his three picks.
The Giants, who settled for two first-half field goals by Lawrence Tynes, managed to score a touchdown in the second quarter when Manning found receiver Hakeem Nicks for a 23-yard reception over the middle.
The Bucs continued to add to its 24-13 halftime lead in the third quarter when kickoff returner Arrelious Benn took the opening second-half kickoff 55 yards to the Giants' 47. Five plays and 14 yards later, kicker Connor Barth, who initially got his team on the board with a 45-yarder to tie the score early in the first quarter, hit a 52-yarder to make it 27-13.
Manning almost gift-wrapped another interception for the Bucs in the third quarter when he tried to hit receiver Victor Cruz on a third-down conversion. However, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber was unable to hang onto the ball, and the Giants settled for another field goal, this one from 36 yards, to make it 27-16.
The Giants appeared to get a break at the end of the third quarter when cornerback Corey Webster picked off quarterback Josh Freeman's pass for receiver Sammie Stroughter. The turnover gave New York the ball at the Tampa Bay 36.
However, a potential touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett, who would later be on the receiving end of the score that helped tie the game in the fourth quarter, fell incomplete, the Giants having to settle for a 24-yard field goal after failing to advance the ball past the Bucs' five-yard-line.
Manning, who last year was the king of the fourth-quarter comebacks, put his team ahead with the two touchdown receptions as the fourth quarter wound down.
After Freeman and the Bucs took the lead on the pass to Williams to tie the score, running back Andre Brown, who had a big day in place of the injured Ahmad Bradshaw, gave the Giants the lead for good on a two-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left in the game.
The Giants won't have much time to reflect on this one as
they'll hit the road this coming week for a Thursday night prime time matchup against the Carolina Panthers. The Giants and Panthers have played each other six times in the regular season, with each team winning three games.
Notes: Right tackle David Diehl suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and didn't return. He was replaced by Sean Locklear, who moved over from the left side. Will Beatty, who had been the team's blocking tight end, stepped in for Locklear at left tackle. ... Receiver/punt returner Domenik Hixon suffered a concussion after having his helmet ripped off on a first-quarter 12-yard reception, and did not return. ... Running back Ahmad Bradshaw went into the locker room during the second quarter to have an X-ray on his neck and did not return.