Eli Manning throws for 510 yards, 44 yards short of the NFL record, and the Giants score with 31 seconds left to beat the Bucs, 41-34, on Sunday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning needed a near-record performance to make up for his own mistakes and help the Super Bowl champion New York Giants avoid a second straight loss.
Manning threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns and capped the second greatest passing day by a Giants’ quarterback by setting up Andre Brown’s game-winning 2-yard run with a 50-yard pass that lifted New York to a wild 41-34 victory Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The game featured four touchdowns in the final 6:48, and ended with some postgame squabbling between Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. Coughlin screamed at the former Rutgers coach after Manning was knocked down on the final play because the Bucs went all out to try to force a fumble on a kneel-down.
“I told some of our young players, you’ve played in big games in college, but this is something else,” Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “This is what you live for. We’d have liked to play better, but if I was a fan at the game and not so close, I would have enjoyed it.”
Manning, who completed 31 of 51 passes, made it really enjoyable for Giants’ fans. The two-time Super Bowl MVP overcame a miserable first half with a 295 yards passing in the second half, tying for the eighth most in NFL history and coming up 3 yards short of Phil Simms’ club record. After his three first-half interceptions staked the Bucs (1-1) to an 11-point lead, Manning was nearly flawless when the Giants needed him at his best.
“Eli hung in. He made a couple of bad plays, but he didn’t get discouraged,” Coughlin said. “We just kept talking about the character of this team and we finally made some plays and came back.”
Manning threw touchdowns of 23 yards to Hakeem Nicks, 80 to Victor Cruz and 33 to Martellus Bennett with 3:59 to play to give New York a 34-27 lead. After Cruz scored and celebrated with his trademark salsa, Brown scored on a 2-point conversion run to tie the game.
“Nobody wants to start 0-2, so it was a big win, especially after the first half playing poorly,” said Manning, whose previous single-game best was 420 yards passing against Seattle in a loss last season. “After not playing well, it’s kind of getting back to that level of playing good football. Really good. No punts, no turnovers. Some big-time plays and stepping up when we needed it, that was fun to have.”
In 1951, Los Angeles’ Norm Van Brocklin threw for a record 554 yards against New York.
Josh Freeman tied the game at 34-all with a 41-yard pass to Mike Williams, but Manning drove New York 80 yards in four plays to win it. A 50-yard completion to Nicks led to Brown’s score, which came one play after he kneeled at the 2 when Tampa Bay was letting him score.
“They made plays. It’s a game of inches,” Schiano said. “They were able to make them. We were close and we didn’t. Just got to do a better job all around, coaching, playing.
Schiano defended the way the Bucs played on the final snap, saying his team will play through the final whistle, which came one play after Michael Boley intercepted Freeman’s pass at the Giants 30 in the closing seconds.
Manning was not hurt, but there was shoving and maybe even punches in the scrum.
“It was a little bit of a cheap shot,” Manning said. “We’re taking a knee in a friendly way and they’re firing off. It’s a good way to get someone hurt.”
Manning’s effort helped the Giants gain 604 yards and hold the ball for 33:29. Cruz, who attended his grandmother’s funeral on Friday, and Hicks, who has battled foot injuries all season and had a foot stomped on in the Giants’ 25-point fourth quarter, both had career games.
Cruz finished with 11 catches for 179 yards, both career highs, while Nicks had 10 catches for 199 yards, with the yardage a personal best.
“This team always says we’re going to come back. It’s just a confidence level you’ve got to have,” Nicks said. “Eli is an elite quarterback, so there’s a confidence that he can get it done.”
Lawrence Tynes kicked four field goals for the Giants, who played a lot better after a season-opening 24-17 loss to Dallas 10 days ago. But they trailed for most of the game.
Freeman finished 15 of 28 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The first score covered 29 yards to Vincent Jackson, who had five catches for 128 yards. Doug Martin (20 for 66) ran 8 yards for a TD and Eric Wright returned the last of Manning’s interceptions 60 yards for a touchdown just :08 before halftime.
“It hurts, but I still believe in my teammates, and the coaching, and the staff,” Buccaneers defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. “It’s going to come together and it’s going to be something great.”
The Bucs turned Manning’s three first-half interceptions into 21 points, with the most crushing pick being Wright’s 60-yard return for a 24-13 lead. Manning was moving New York into position for a field goal when Wright simply reached up and snatched Manning’s short pass to Cruz. He then weaved his way through a logjam and down the sideline.
Linebacker Mason Foster got the first interception at the Giants 28 early in the second quarter when Manning didn’t put enough air under a touch pass to Bennett.
Three plays later, Freeman showed poise under pressure and lofted an arcing pass that Jackson caught in stride for a touchdown.
Backup cornerback Brandon McDonald got the second interception as the replacement officials missed a holding call on Barber against Cruz. McDonald returned it 40 yards and a personal foul moved the ball to the 13. Martin scored two plays later.
Manning’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Nicks closed the gap to 17-13, but Wright ended the half with his big play.
“He made some throws,” Barber said. “They made more plays than we did. One more, in fact.”
Steelers 27, Jets 10:Ben Roethlisberger passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns and the Pittsburgh Steelers smothered the New York Jets in the second half of a the victory on Sunday.
Roethlisberger completed 24 of 31 passes. He hit Heath Miller for a 1-yard score to give the Steelers (1-1) the lead late in the first half, then found Mike Wallace for a 37-yard strike early in the third quarter to break the game open.
Isaac Redman added a late 2-yard touchdown run for Pittsburgh, which had little trouble avoiding its first 0-2 start in a decade.
The Jets (1-1) did little offensively after a pair of early scoring drives. Mark Sanchez passed for 138 yards and a touchdown, but New York hardly looked like the offensive juggernaut that piled up points in a 48-28 opening-week blowout win over Buffalo.
Eagles 24, Ravens 23: Michael Vick scored on a 1-yard TD run with 1:55 left, helping Philadelphia overcome a slew of turnovers.
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker made field goals of 56, 51 and 48 yards for the Ravens, but Joe Flacco couldn’t get Baltimore (1-1) in his range in the final minute.
Flacco overthrew Ray Rice on fourth-and-1 from the Ravens 46, and the Eagles ran out the clock.
Vick threw four interceptions at Cleveland last week, but rallied the Eagles (2-0) to a 17-16 win.
Cardinals 20, Pats 18: Backup quarterback Kevin Kolb threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential winning field goal in the final seconds, and Ariizona moved to 2-0.
The Patriots took over when Vince Wilfork recovered a fumble at the Cardinals 30 with 1:01 left. A 30-yard run into the end zone by Danny Woodhead was nullified by a holding penalty against Rob Gronkowski. New England then moved to the 24 before Tom Brady spiked the ball to stop the clock with 6 seconds left, but Gostkowski sent a 42-yard try wide to the left after hitting four earlier field goals.
Panthers 35, Saints 27: Cam Newton threw for 253 yards and ran for a career-high 71 yards to hand New Orleans its first 0-2 start since 2007.
One week after tying a franchise low with 10 yards rushing in a loss to Tampa Bay, the Panthers ran for 219 yards and Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert all scored on short touchdown runs. Steve Smith overcame a sore knee to finish with 104 yards receiving — the 39th 100-yard receiving game of his career — and Jonathan Stewart hauled in a 17-yard touchdown reception for the Panthers (1-1).
Drew Brees had won his previous five starts against Carolina. He threw for 325 yards but was intercepted twice, including once by Charles Godfrey, who returned it 9 yards for a touchdown.
Colts 23, Vikings 20: Adam Vinatieri made a 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to give Andrew Luck his first NFL victory.
Minnesota (1-1) rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the final 5½ minutes and tied the score on a 6-yard TD pass from Christian Ponder to Kyle Rudolph with 31 seconds left.
Luck finished 20 of 31 for 224 yards.
Dolphins 35, Raiders 13: Reggie Bush ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and Miami won a home opener for the first time since 2005.
Ryan Tannehill threw his first NFL touchdown pass, ran for another and avoided any turnovers after tossing three interceptions in his pro debut a week earlier.
The Dolphins improved to 1-1, and Joe Philbin earned a sideline drenching for his first victory as a head coach. The Raiders, under new coach Dennis Allen, are 0-2 for the first time since 2007.
Texans 27, Jaguars 7: Arian Foster ran for 110 yards and a touchdown, Ben Tate added 74 yards and two scores and Houston dominated from the start.
The Texans improved to 2-0 for the third consecutive season by winning their fourth in a row against the AFC South rival Jaguars, who started 0-2 for the third time in the last five years.
Bills 35, Chiefs 17: C.J. Spiller scored twice and had 123 yards rushing in sparking Buffalo.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes, including a 49-yarder to Stevie Johnson, and Leodis McKelvin scored on an 88-yard punt return — the second longest in team history — in the Bills’ home opener.
Bengals 34, Browns 27: Adam “Pacman” Jones returned Cleveland’s first punt 81 yards for a touchdown, and Andy Dalton matched his career high with three touchdown passes.
The Bengals (1-1) have won 13 of the last 16 against the Browns (0-2), who got impressive games from their rookie quarterback and running back but still couldn’t get a win.
Jones put the Bengals ahead to stay with his fifth career punt return for a touchdown. Dalton threw three TD passes for the second time in his career, including a short reception that Andrew Hawkins turned into a 50-yard score in the fourth quarter.
SEAHAWKS 27, COWBOYS 7: Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Seattle’s special teams came up with two huge first-quarter plays that led to 10 points, and the Seahawks beat the Dallas Cowboys 27-7 on Sunday.
Tony Romo threw a 22-yard TD to Miles Austin in the second quarter, but that was the only sustained drive the Cowboys (1-1) could mount on the Seahawks stout defense.
CHARGERS 38, TITANS 10: Tight end Dante Rosario had three touchdown catches for the first time in his NFL career and San Diego’s defense harassed Jake Locker all afternoon as the Chargers beat the Tennessee Titans for the ninth straight time.
Before the game, the Chargers (2-0) retired Junior Seau’s No. 55. Seau, the hard-hitting, first-pumping leader of the Chargers for 13 seasons, committed suicide May 2.
With Antonio Gates inactive due to sore ribs, the Chargers turned to Rosario. He responded with TD catches of 11, 4 and 15 yards from Philip Rivers.
Rams 31, Redkins 28: Sam Bradford threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns and Danny Amendola caught 16 passes for 160 yards in rallying the St. Louis Rams over Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The Rams made their comeback after coach Jeff Fisher benched running back Steven Jackson for drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter.
Griffin led the Redskins (1-1) to a 21-6 lead, but the Rams (1-1) came back thanks to the pass-catching of Amendola.
The receiver tied an NFL record 12 first-half receptions, and caught a 1-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 21-13 at the half.