The big play is back in the Giants' passing game, and the big mistakes have all but disappeared from quarterback Eli Manning's arsenal. That much was evident in the Giants' 27-13 victory over Green Bay on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Manning opened with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle and gouged the Packers' secondary with pass plays of 25 yards or longer on every scoring drive. He completed 25 of 35 passes for 279 yards and the TD to Randle, and his only interception came on a blown route by backup wide receiver Louis Murphy Jr., who momentarily replaced Hakeem Nicks in the second quarter.
"He made a mistake,'' coach Tom Coughlin said of the route run by Murphy. "Eli should not be charged with that, but that's the way it goes."
More importantly, Manning hooked up with Victor Cruz eight times for 110 yards, including a 30-yard completion that set up a field goal for an early 10-3 lead and completions of 25 and 14 yards on the Giants' last touchdown drive for a 20-6 lead. He also connected on a 35-yard bomb to Nicks before a third-quarter field goal.
"They gave us the coverages we were looking for on specific down and distances,'' Cruz said. "That's what we need. This offense is built on the big play as well as the balance with the running game. But we definitely needed a couple of big plays to get ourselves going again.''
Nicks went missing for a bit in the second quarter, but Manning found him in the third for the big gain. "I feel like we got our rhythm a little bit,'' Nicks said. "We were just trying to take advantage of what they were giving us. Three-step game a lot , and then we hit it downfield a little bit, too. Everything worked hand in hand. I think everything was just clicking.''
Manning was unrecognizable when he threw 15 interceptions in the first six losses, but he's had only two interceptions in the recent four-game winning streak. With Dallas on tap for an important NFC East game next week at MetLife, the confidence is back in the passing game.
"I believe so,'' Cruz said. "I believe we're in the right direction. We still haven't quite had that breakout game where everyone is clicking and doing the right thing, but we're on track. This is how we want to play, so we're excited about that.''
"We are starting to play the way we expect to play by winning football games," Manning said. "Obviously, we've got a good run going. We have to make sure our preparation is outstanding, just find ways to win football games. Obviously, another home game this week versus Dallas in the division. It'll be a big game for us."