EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Despite struggling with injuries to key starters, the New York Giants again got a significant contribution from an unlikely source as they overcame a 17-10 second-half deficit to top the Cleveland Browns 41-27 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
This week, the big contributor was third-year man Stevie Brown, who, after playing well last week in relief of injured starter Kenny Phillips against the Eagles, was given the start at strong safety. Brown's 46-yard interception return of Brandon Weeden's pass intended for receiver Josh Gordon ended up being the catalyst for 17 unanswered points that gave the Giants a 27-17 halftime lead.
New York went on to cruise to the win behind a career-high 200 rushing yards from Ahmad Bradshaw, who had 30 carries.
Immediately following Bradshaw's 4-yard touchdown off the turnover, Brown was at it again, this time recovering a fumble by Cleveland kickoff returner Josh Cribbs to give the Giants first down on the Browns' 29.
Five plays later, Giants quarterback Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz on the second of the receiver's three touchdown receptions on the day, this one for the 7-yard score to give the Giants their first lead of the day.
New York kicker Lawrence Tynes, who last week missed a field-goal attempt for the first time this season, was back on track, nailing a 40-yarder with four seconds left in the half to give the Giants a 10-point lead.
Things got off to a rocky start for the Giants, who in addition to Phillips were missing receivers Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, plus defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Bradshaw fumbled the ball away on New York's opening play from scrimmage, and the Browns converted two plays later. Trent Richardson carried twice for 22 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown right up the gut.
The Browns made it 14-0 after their first two possessions of the game, with Weeden hitting Gordon for a 62-yard touchdown reception. Although the Giants cut that lead in half on Manning's first touchdown pass to Cruz, Cleveland got a 32-yard field goal by Phil Dawson to make it 17-7 before the Giants went on their scoring splurge.
In the second half, Cleveland did get a 41-yard field goal by Dawson and a 20-yard touchdown catch by Gordon to close up the gap. The Browns could have had more, though, as after Cleveland cornerback Usama Young picked off a Manning pass intended for Cruz, linebacker Chase Blackburn returned the favor by picking off Weeden's pass intended for tight end Benjamin Watson in the end zone.
That turnover set the stage for Giants running back David Wilson's first career touchdown, a 40-yard run, allowing New York to match its season-high total of 41 points. Wilson's score capped a fine day by the Giants running backs, who combined for 32 carries for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
With the win, the Giants improve to 3-2 with a big NFC game coming up next week on the road against the 49ers, whom they defeated last year in the NFC Championship Game.
The Browns (0-5) play host to the Bengals next week.
NOTES: Manning improved his won-loss record in the month of October to 24-5. ... The Giants have won seven straight against AFC teams, including the postseason, and they have won five of their last six against the Browns. ... The Browns have tied a franchise record for the most consecutive losses. Their five losses this year combined with six straight losses at the end of last season tie their mark of 11 losses set over the 1974 and '75 seasons. ... The Browns have not beaten a NFC team since Oct. 23, 2011, when they topped Seattle 6-3.