The New York Giants ended New England’s 20-game regular season home winning streak with a last-minute touchdown drive reminiscent of their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots four seasons ago.
Eli Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left to give the Giants a 24-20 win yesterday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where there were four fourth-quarter lead changes.
It was the first meeting between the teams since the Giants’ Super Bowl victory in 2008 denied the Patriots a 19-0 season. The Giants’ winning score in the National Football League title game came with 35 seconds left.
“Those are fun situations to be in,” said Manning, who threw two touchdown passes in the final 3:03. “As an athlete and as a quarterback, you want the ball in your hands at the end of the game. I’d rather be down by three with 1:30 than up by four with 1:30 with Tom Brady on the field.”
The Baltimore Ravens beat the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers last night with a similar late drive, winning 23-20 at Heinz Field as rookie Torrey Smith hauled in Joe Flacco’s 26- yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left. The Ravens improve to 6-2 and are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the American Football Conference’s North division ahead of the Steelers (6-3).
Tough to Win
“It was a tough game and it’s tough to win in this place,” Flacco, who finished with 314 passing yards, said in a televised interview. “It’s a big victory for our team.”
While the Ravens swept their season series against the Steelers for the second time since 1996, the Giants became the first team to win in Foxborough since Nov. 30, 2008.
The Patriots fall to 5-3 and are now tied with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in the American Football Conference’s East division. The Jets beat Buffalo 27-11 for their third straight win and next host New England on Nov. 13.
“They are the team to beat in the division,” Jets receiver Plaxico Burress said of the Patriots. “We know what they are capable of doing. If we beat them and take care of business at home next week, we control our own destiny.”
The Green Bay Packers improved to 8-0 with a 45-38 road win against the San Diego Chargers. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes for the Packers, who withstood a fourth-quarter rally to remain the NFL’s only undefeated team.
The Colts dropped their ninth straight game without injured quarterback Peyton Manning, losing 31-7 to the Atlanta Falcons (5-3). The Colts are now the only winless team after the Miami Dolphins beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-3 to improve to 1-7. The Chiefs had a four-game winning streak snapped, falling to 4-4.
The San Francisco 49ers, who have gone eight straight seasons without a winning record, moved to 7-1 with a 19-11 win at the Washington Redskins (3-5). It’s the first time the 49ers have won six games in a row since they went on a single-season franchise record 11-game run in 1997.
The New Orleans Saints (6-3) beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-16 to rebound from last week’s defeat to the previously winless St. Louis Rams, who lost 19-13 in overtime yesterday to the Arizona Cardinals as Patrick Peterson returned a punt 99 yards for a touchdown.
The Houston Texans beat the Cleveland Browns 30-12 to improve to 6-3, their best start to a season. Cleveland slipped to 3-5 with a second straight loss.
Bengals Stretch Streak
The Bengals stretched their winning streak to five games with a 24-17 win over the Tennessee Titans (4-4), while the Denver Broncos knocked off the Oakland Raiders 38-24 behind two Tim Tebow touchdown passes to improve to 3-5.
After a scoreless first half in Foxborough, the Giants opened a 10-0 lead on a Lawrence Tynes field goal and a 10-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs, who started in place of the injured Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Patriots then answered with 13 straight points to take the lead with 7:08 remaining. The Giants went back in front as Manning hooked up with Mario Manningham for a 10-yard touchdown with 3:03 left. New England rallied again and grabbed a 20-17 lead with 1:36 on the clock as Brady fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski on a fourth-down play.
The Giants, who were 9-point underdogs without Bradshaw and top receiver Hakeem Nicks, then drove 80 yards for the winning score. Ballard’s catch came three plays after a pass interference penalty gave the Giants the ball at the Patriots’ 1-yard line.
“It shows a lot of people we are for real,” Ballard said.
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