The defining moment was at hand Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Tied at 24 with the Bills, the Giants were backed up at their 19 with 4:02 remaining and the prospect of heading into their bye week at 3-3 staring them in the face.
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On the first play of their drive for the game-winning field goal in a 27-24 victory over Buffalo, Bradshaw ripped off an 11-yard run, and he was just warming up. Two plays later, he broke a 30-yarder over the left side of the line to reach the Bills' 37. After a pass-interference penalty put the ball at Buffalo's 7, Bradshaw powered to the 1.
Given that he had scored three times from that distance earlier in the game, the Bills had an idea what was coming next, and they hit him for a 4-yard loss. But Lawrence Tynes hit the 23-yard chip-shot and the Giants (4-2) went home happy -- especially Bradshaw, who gained 47 of his 104 rushing yards on that winning drive. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since he gained 103 last Dec. 13 in a win over Minnesota in Detroit after the Metrodome roof collapsed.
Recalling his thoughts at the beginning of that drive, Bradshaw said, "When the battle gets deep, we look at each other every time at the same moment, and we look at each other to make a play . . . Any time I have a chance to try to put the team on my back, that is what I plan to do. They called a great play, a misdirection, and those guys up front did a heck of a job today."
Bradshaw was referring to the 30-yard run that put the Giants close to field-goal range. He said it was set up because Manning's passing "kept them back on their heels a little bit."
It was a play the Giants had been hoping to run earlier in the game. Said Manning, "We finally got the look [from the defense] we were looking for and had a good idea it was going to be a big play if we could come in and block the safety, and that's exactly what happened. Manningham blocked the safety, and Ahmad made the corner miss and had a big play."
Over on the Giants' sideline, injured running back Brandon Jacobs was leading the cheers. "He is my big brother," Bradshaw said. "To have him there, it's all love."
Just a week earlier in a terrible loss to Seattle, Bradshaw was seen yelling at offensive lineman Will Beatty, but he channeled his emotions productively yesterday.
"I put my heart out there," Bradshaw said, "and I just try to run with anger and use my speed and power."
This time it was the Bills who felt Bradshaw's wrath.