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Raiders-Giants: What we learned

The SportsXchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, playing in his first season after two consecutive ACL surgeries, picked off Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the third quarter to help spark a 24-20 win at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Thomas returned an interception 65 yards to set up a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run by fellow comebacker, running back Andre Brown, playing in his first game this season.

The Giants (3-6) won their third straight game.

It was the first interception for Thomas, the NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8, since 2010, when he recorded five interceptions.

Brown got his first regular-season touchdown run since Nov. 25, 2012, the last time he played before suffering a broken leg that ultimately ended his season.

Brown finished with a career-high 30 carries for 115 yards, and the touchdown four days after his head coach joked with the media that 40 carries wouldn't be out of the question for Brown.

"He gave us what we needed," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Brown. "He had a little spark out there, there was no doubt. (He had) some power runs and just, by a little bit, almost broke free as well on a couple."

The Giants managed to overcome a shaky first half that saw the Raiders score their 17 first-half points on three drives that totaled 10 yards and which saw the Giants' shaky special teams play continue.

Jerrel Jernigan fumbled away the opening kickoff for the Giants to set the stage for Pryor's 1-yard touchdown run to get his team on the board after just 53 seconds.

Pryor, who entered the game as the Raiders' leading rusher with 485 yards on 63 carries, only ran five times for 19 yards Sunday, appearing to move gingerly thanks to a knee injury suffered in last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pryor admitted that his knee might have affected his play.

"My knee's banged up. It got worse through the week," he said. "My leg was very sore and I was out there trying to do my best, (but) I wasn't myself."

With the win, the Giants improved to 3-6 and will now await the outcome of the Sunday night game between Dallas and New Orleans. If the Saints defeat the Cowboys, the Giants could potentially be facing their NFC East rivals in two weeks for first place in the NFC East if New York can get past Green Bay next week.

The Raiders, who fell to 3-6, remain in last place in the AFC West, and have now lost eight straight games on the road. They will try to snap their losing streak on the road next week at Houston.

What the Raiders said

"We have to find a way to finish games." -- Quarterback Terrell Pryor, when asked out how the game slipped away from them after they built up a 20-14 lead early in the third quarter.

What the Giants said

"I carried it 30 times? It felt like 50." -- Running back Andre Brown, whose 30 carries Sunday were a career high and the most he's rushed the ball since his sophomore year of college.

What we learned about the Raiders

1. The Raiders' 14-play scoring drive in the third quarter which resulted in a 24-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski was their longest scoring drive from scrimmage in terms of number of plays. Their previous longest drive was a 13-play touchdown drive against the San Diego Chargers in the first quarter of their game on Oct. 6. Otherwise, Oakland's average drive was 4.3 plays long.

2. Terrelle Pryor may not be the answer at quarterback. Pryor can't throw the deep ball. If he's not able to run, which on Sunday he wasn't, Pryor panics into making far too many bad decisions. Pryor might have been charged with throwing only one interception, but there were at least two other balls he threw that came close to being picked off. He's now thrown at least one interception in each of his last four games -- his passer rating not exceeding 57.0 over that stretch.

What we learned about the Giants

1. The week following a bye has been good to Tom Coughlin's Giants. The Giants are is now 7-3 in games played immediately after their bye, and have won their last six post-bye games. Overall, the Giants' 20-6 (.769) post-bye week record is the best in the league.

2. The Giants' special teams continues to be a problem. Besides the fumble by kickoff returner Jerrel Jernigan, there was a fourth-quarter deflected punt that only traveled seven yards; a 27-yard, third-quarter shank by Steve Weatherford; and two Raiders kickoff returns of 36 and 41 yards. The Raiders' average starting field position was their 41-yard line while the Giants' average starting field position was their 31-yard line.
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