The New York Giants were on the ropes late in this game. It took a sack by their high priced free agent signee and defensive end OLIVIER VERNON on a late fourth quarter 3rd and 17 situation for the Cincinnati Bengals, and two big RASHAD JENNINGS runs up the middle to help seal and deliver a 21-20 victory for the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Vernon (10 tackles, 1 sack, and many QB hurries tonight) has received a lot of flack this season for his lack of production, which comes on the heels of him signing a 5-year, $85 million contract with $52 million of it guaranteed back in the spring. Eight games prior to tonight, Vernon had only registered two sacks and there was a four-game period of this season in which he didn’t have sack.
Vernon needed a night like he had tonight to not only get the media, Giants fans, and others off his back but also he needed that performance to hold off a late rally by the Bengals.
As for Jennings, he was another Giants (6-3) player who was in a funk as far as production. He only had 168 yards rushing and 1 score in five games of action coming into tonight. But on New York’s last drive of this game, he powered for 38 yards on 5 carries which including a few runs that helped run out the clock on the Bengals’ hopes of a comeback. He finished the night with 87 yards on 15 carries.
Giants quarterback ELI MANNING (28 of 44 for 240 yards, 3 touchdown passes and 2 picks) didn’t have the greatest of games tonight, but he connected with his receivers and got help from the running game (albeit late in the game) to help him get the 104th win of his 13-year career as the Giants quarterback.
Bengals quarterback ANDY DALTON sure tried to will his team to a win tonight with his late game heroics as a runner and passer. But that Vernon sack on the Bengals’ last offensive drive of the game was a killer. He went 16 of 29 for 2014 yards with 1 scoring pass and 1 pick tonight.
Giants tight end JERELL ADAMS came out of the backfield from the H-Back area. He then ran a shallow cross to the CIN 6-yard line, where he caught a Manning pass that he took into the end zone for a 10-yard score. That was the rookie’s first touchdown catch of the year and it gave his team a 7-0 lead at the 11:05 mark of the first quarter.
But not too long after Adams’ score, the Bengals (3-5-1) answered when Bengals receiver A.J. GREEN (7 catches for 68 yards and 1 score) leapt into the air and accepted a Dalton pass in the end zone in front of Giants cornerback JANORIS JENKINS. That 13-yard scoring play tied the game at 7-7 at the 8:58 mark of the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter receiver ODELL BECKHAM JR. (10 catches for 97 yards and 1 score) answered that Green score, with his third touchdown catch in the last two weeks when he got behind the Bengals defense for a back of the zone 10-yard scoring pass. Near the 1:15 mark of the second quarter, the Giants took a 14-10 lead.
Rookie wide receiver/returner ALEX ERICKSON ignited his team’s second half surge, with an 84-yard kickoff return down the right side and to the NYG 30 where he was tackled by Giant cornerback COTY SENSABAUGH. That was Erickson’s longest play of any kind (kick return, punt return, or receiving) this season.
Erickson’s return set up a 9-yard touchdown run down the left side by running back JEREMY HILL. At the 13:58 mark of the third quarter, the Bengals took the lead back at 17-14.
Bengals kicker MIKE NUGENT took care of his second successful field goal (38 yards), that snuck just inside the upper portion of the uprights. That three-pointer gave his team a 20-14 lead at the 8:52 mark of the third period.
Receiver STERLING SHEPARD (5 catches for 42 yards and 1 score) scored his fourth touchdown of the year when he ran a super shallow crossing route across the middle, with him then catching a Manning pass that he took into the end zone for a 3-yard score. At the 14:05 mark of the fourth quarter the Giants took the lead at 21-20.
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