Ahmad Bradshaw takes a breather during a 4th quarter timeout....

Ahmad Bradshaw takes a breather during a 4th quarter timeout. (Oct. 16, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

Ahmad Bradshaw already had scored a career-high three touchdowns and the running game already was putting up its best effort in about a month when the Giants came to the line to face second-and-7 against the Bills late in the fourth quarter Sunday.

That's when they were able to add to their day -- and to the season -- the one element that had been missing.

It was the long run, the play in which everything is blocked properly and Bradshaw is able to use his quickness and agility to make defenders miss.

"It was a tremendous boost," Tom Coughlin said of the way that 30-yard run helped the morale of a unit that many had begun to question -- including, if you listened closely after last week's loss to the Seahawks, Bradshaw himself.

Before the 30-yarder, Bradshaw had a couple of longish runs against the Bills, a few plays in which he looked as if he were ready to break one, but he always seemed to be taken down before he could reach the open field. His longest run, two snaps earlier, had been for 11 yards.

On the 30-yarder, the Giants' longest rushing play since a 37-yarder by Bradshaw against the Eagles and only the second one by the team all year to go for more than 15 yards, he was able to find space and run.

It was a counter play, so the Giants used some deception. Fullback Bear Pascoe darted to the right and Bradshaw started that way before coming back to the left. Tight end Jake Ballard escorted linebacker Danny Batten out of the play on the outside while tackle Will Beatty and guard David Diehl formed a wall on the inside. Wide receiver Mario Manningham made a key block on safety George Wilson.

Given room, Bradshaw easily sidestepped cornerback Drayton Florence and sprinted up the left sideline, hurdling safety Jarius Byrd for a few extra yards before getting pushed out of bounds at the Bills' 37.

"It was awesome to have that in the fourth quarter because that's the time when the run game is effective," Diehl said. "That's when you wear down defenses and you start to wear down guys and things start popping and cracking open. I think it was a great feeling for all of us because we all know that we haven't run the ball the way that we are capable of."

So that's that? The running game is fixed?

Not exactly. They did bog down on a second-and-goal from the 1 in that same drive, settled for a field goal and gave the ball back to the Bills with 1:32 left and a three-point lead. But the fact that the Giants were able to keep hammering away at the Bills and get Bradshaw downfield was a positive step for the offense in general and the offensive line in particular.

Diehl said the offensive line took the previous week's performance against the Seahawks -- the game in which Bradshaw was caught yelling at them, more imploring than blaming he said later -- as a personal challenge to improve. There's still work to be done, and running the ball will be the key to winning games down the stretch. But those 30 yards Bradshaw gained showed the Giants it can be done. Said Diehl, "I like the direction that we're going in."

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