An unlikely hero emerged for the New York Giants during last Sunday’s 52-27 pasting of visiting New Orleans at MetLife Stadium.
That would be rookie David Wilson, who had a day to remember after tallying three touchdowns, including a dazzling 97-yard kickoff return with 9:25 left that tied it at 7-7.
Wilson’s 327 all-purpose yards established a club record, as the hard-charging running back out of Virginia Tech caught everyone’s attention.
“To come up and have a breakout game like this is an excellent feeling,’’ said Wilson, who ran for a game-high 100 yards on 13 carries, and returned four kickoffs for 227 yards.
In what appeared to be a run-away about a month ago in the rugged NFC East, New York (8-5) is now entangled in a dog-fight with the Washington Redskins (7-6) and Dallas Cowboys (7-6).
Wilson’s six-yard blast with 13:04 showing in the third quarter gave New York a 28-13 advantage, and his 52-yard sprint with 5:10 left in the final quarter simply added sprinkles on the cake as the Giants (394 total net yards) pulled ahead by 25 points.
With nearly six minutes having elapsed off the clock, New York quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning (22 of 35 attempts for 259 yards and two interceptions) had his pass picked off by cornerback Elbert Mack, who returned it 73 yards for a score that made it 7-0.
Manning later drove the Giants 35 yards and eventually found tight end Martellus Bennett (32 yards on five receptions) with a six-yard toss as 4:19 remained in the opening quarter for a 14-7 lead.
New Orleans (5-8) moved within a point after Garrett Hartley creamed a 32-yard field goal with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter, and connected on a 25-yarder with 1:57 left before the half.
New York then scored three straight touchdowns to take a commanding 35-13 lead. Manning’s five-yard floater to wide receiver Domenik Hixon (three catches for 30 yards) in the right corner of the end zone capped a 69-yard, nine-play march just before the half and made it 21-13.
Wilson’s short run with 13:04 left on the clock in the third quarter gave the Giants a 15-point cushion, and Manning’s 25-yard strike to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (67 yards on four catches) and 8:13 showing in the same quarter climaxed a 62-yard drive as the lead swelled to 35-13.
With the capacity crowd of 81,437 huddled together because of a steady rain, the Saints (487 total yards) appeared lifeless even with All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees at the controls.
A Super Bowl champion himself, Brees (26 of 43 for 354 yards and two interceptions) wasn’t about to throw in the white towel as he located running back Darren Sproles (28 yards and four receptions) with a 13-yard pass and 7:21 left that capped a 75-yard drive and made it 35-20, and his nine-yard toss to Sproles (56 yards on five rushes) with 1:51 remaining got the Saints within eight points.
Never nervous, Manning found his favorite wide receiver Victor Cruz (game-best 121 yards on eight catches) with a 10-yard bullet early in the fourth quarter that made it 42-27, and Lawrence Tynes added a 39-yard field goal with 10:19 on the clock to make it 45-27.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.