Peyton Hillis looked a little shaky as he got to his feet after scoring the Giants' only touchdown of Thursday night's game, diving in from inside the 1 yard line. At first glance it appeared he might have been injured.
Nope. Just exhausted.
Hillis was the most-used offensive weapon for the Giants in their 16-13 win over the Patriots. He carried the ball 11 times for 40 yards and on that touchdown drive that went 80 yards in 14 plays he ran the ball 10 times for 37 yards. He also had a 5-yard gain that was negated by a holding penalty.
"I tell you what, I was dead dog tired when I got down there," Hillis said. "I wanted to get in the end zone, so I'm glad that I did. That was big."
Hillis missed a few weeks of the preseason with an ankle injury, but seems to have come back in time to secure the third running back job. The Giants running backs of Rashad Jennings (6.1), Andre Williams (5.1) and Hillis (4.2) all averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry. Last year in the regular season only Brandon Jacobs averaged over 4.0 (he was 4.1 on only 58 carries).
"We still ran the ball decently," Tom Coughlin said of the one bright spot in the offense throughout the game and the preseason. "We had a couple runs."
Eli Manning also appreciated the seemingly renewed devotion to a ground game.
"The running game's been good so that's the offensive line opening up holes, the running backs are running hard and making some big plays, so hopefully we can continue to do that," Manning said.
Having Hillis as the third option will give the group depth and experience. And an occasional short-yardage thumper. He probably won't have a regular season game with 11 carries this year, nevermind a drive with 10. But Hillis could be a big part of the offense.
"It was good," Hillis said. "I felt myself being a little rusty, honestly. It's always tough going in there in the second quarter when you're sitting around, to try to go in there and play. But I felt like I did okay with the opportunities that I had. I think we have a great group of backs so it's one of those things, you have to wait your turn and try to do the best when you can."