Eli Manning and Victor Cruz steal the show
This looked like RG3's day, as wondrous rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III dazzled a MetLife Stadium crowd of 81,352 Sunday afternoon by using his winged feet and laser arm to lead a 77-yard touchdown drive that gave the Redskins a three-point lead with 1:32 to play. The Giants' two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback and salsa-dancing wide receiver seemed destined for footnote status.
But just when the media chorus was tuning up to praise Griffin, it was Eli Manning and Victor Cruz who seized the moment with a 77-yard lightning bolt of a touchdown pass and catch that gave the Giants a 27-23 victory, ignited a deafening roar at MetLife and reminded everyone where the Vince Lombardi Trophy resides.
It had been a desultory day for Manning and Cruz. The quarterback had thrown two interceptions and missed badly on a slant to a wide-open Cruz at the goal line in the second quarter. "But we clicked at the right time and read the coverage the same way, and it was a good feeling," Cruz said of the winning touchdown.
When Cruz heard the play in the huddle before second down from the Giants' 23-yard line, he lined up in the right slot and knew from the coverage that Manning might look his way.
Manning recognized the same coverage Washington played just before halftime. "They were playing 'man' with a safety real tight and doubling Victor to the outside, trying to take away any outside-breaking routes," he said. "He had a seam route, so he ran right through that double-team."
"I saw that the safeties were outside the numbers," Cruz said. "I saw the middle of the field wide-open, so I just took it. I just kept going vertical, and Eli saw it the same way."
Although Manning saw it, his field of vision suddenly was clouded by onrushing defensive lineman Stephen Bowen, who delivered a wallop that put Manning on his back a split-second after the ball was gone.
"I had to throw it a little bit before I wanted to, threw it high and deep," Manning said. "It was based on [how] I saw the coverage, and I was hoping Victor was going to see it the same way I was.
"I didn't see the ball get caught. I kind of heard the cheer and said, 'It's probably a good sign.' "
Cruz hauled in the bomb without breaking stride and took it the distance. Manning picked himself up in time to see Cruz cross the goal. Just like that, it was Manning's day as he completed his 24th fourth-quarter comeback, including the postseason.