Reports of the demise of the New York Giants and quarterback Eli Manning were greatly exaggerated. Manning turned in one of the best performances of his career as the Giants defeated the Houston Texans 27-22 for their first win of the season.
Manning went 25-of-29 for 297 yards and two touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 132.3, the second-highest of his career. Manning became one of 54 quarterbacks to achieve the perfect rating of 158.3 in a 44-7 win over the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 11, 2009.
This game was essentially wrapped up at halftime. After the Texans took a 3-0 lead on a Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal, the Giants answered with a 15-yard touchdown run from Saquon Barkley to take the lead for the first time this season.
Aldrick Rosas connected on field goals of 44 and 30 yards before Manning hit Rhett Ellison on a 16-yard touchdown to take a 20-3 lead late in the second quarter. The field goal was made necessary because J.J. Watt sacked Manning for the first of his three sacks on the day.
Houston cut the lead to 20-6 at the half after a 28-yard field goal from Fairbairn.
The Giants scored on each possession of the first half. The offense wasn’t as successful to begin the second half, punting on their first four possessions. Meanwhile, Houston moved the ball better than they did in the first half. The Texans cut the lead to 20-15 in the fourth quarter despite turning the ball over twice on a fumble and an interception.
Manning sealed the victory for the Giants with a nine-play, 77-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown to Sterling Shepard. The touchdown was the 342nd of Manning’s career and moved him into a tie for seventh place all-time with Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton.
Odell Beckham Jr. had nine receptions for 109 yards, the 21st time in 50 career NFL games he eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Barkley finished with 82 yards rushing on 17 carries and five receptions for 35 yards.
The Texans entered Week 3 leading the NFL in rushing yards but were stymied by the Giants. They were held to just 59 yards on 19 carries, including 10 yards on 10 carries from Miller. Watson was the Texans’ leading rusher with 36 yards on five carries.
After having just one sack in their first two games, the Giants sacked Watson three times.
Lorenzo Carter, Mario Edwards Jr., and B.J. Hill each contributed a sack while Alec Ogletree picked off Watson near the goal line to prevent a Texans touchdown. Donte Deayon recovered a fumble after Miller was hit by Kerry Wynn and the ball came loose.
The Giants are now 1-2 (0-1 NFC East) and may have saved their season. The last team to make the playoffs after a 1-2 start are the 2007 Giants. Those Giants entered the postseason as a 10-6 Wild Card, won three playoff games on the road, and Super Bowl XLII. Odds for an 0-3 team like the Texans lower significantly.
The Giants’ next game will be against the New Orleans Saints (Sept. 30) at MetLife Stadium.
Playing the Saints always has a level of personal significance for Manning. He is a native of New Orleans and his father, Archie, was selected second overall by the Saints in the 1971 NFL Draft. Archie Manning spent 10 seasons with the Saints before he was traded during the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 PM EDT.
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.