East Rutherford, New Jersey: The New York Giants came out firing after a week off, routing the Green Bay Packers 38-10 on Sunday to break a two-game losing skid and strengthen their hold on the NFC East.
Quarterback Eli Manning, who had thrown one touchdown pass and six interceptions in his last four games, had renewed zip on his deliveries as he threw for three touchdowns and surpassed Phil Simms as the team’s all-time leader with 200 TD passes.
The Super Bowl champion Giants improved to 7-4 to extend their division lead to two games over the Dallas Cowboys (5-6) and Washington Redskins (5-6), who they play next week.
Visiting Green Bay had their five-game winning streak snapped as they dropped to 7-4 and a game behind the Chicago Bears (8-3) in the NFC North but still lead the wildcard race.
New York, caught in one of their familiar mid-season slumps, came alive in a showdown between the last two Super Bowl winners and fueled hope of a run at back-to-back titles.
“Eli said he felt as if he was coming back for the start of the season again,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters. “I thought that was a very good sign. I was very confident he would come back and be Eli.”
Manning directed a balanced attack in which the Giants gained 249 yards through the air and 147 yards on the ground, Andre Brown gaining 64 yards and Ahmad Bradshaw rushing for 58, both of them running for touchdowns.
“I never thought my arm was tired,” Manning said of his struggles leading up the New York’s bye week.
“But after the week off, it felt good. It felt live, the ball seemed to come out with more pop on it.”
The Giants’ defence also excelled with the pass rushers forcing five sacks against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Osi Umenyiora’s causing a fumble recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul.
Cornerback Corey Webster intercepted a pass by Rodgers, who had only been picked off six times previously this season.
“I’ve not been on a loss like this before,” Rodgers told reporters. “It doesn’t feel good. Hopefully we’ll remember this feeling and not have this kind of embarrassment again.”
Manning hit Victor Cruz and rookie Rueben Randle with touchdown strikes in the first half as New York rolled to a 31-10 lead.
He then connected with Hakeem Nicks for a 16-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put him past Simms on the Giants’ all-time list.
“We rushed for 147 yards, that’s not an easy chore against their front,” said Coughlin. “We had a nice mix.”
One sour note for the Giants was word that Brown had broken his leg late in the game. “That takes an awful lot off of the win,” Coughlin said.
The teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions, giving the impression that a high-scoring game was to come.
However, it was the Giants who accounted for 31 of the last 34 points against a potential post-season opponent.
“It was out of character for our football team,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. “This was a game that really makes everyone look inside.”
Results from the NFL games on Sunday (home team in CAPS)
CINCINNATI 34 Oakland 10
CLEVELAND 20 Pittsburgh 14
INDIANAPOLIS 20 Buffalo 13
JACKSONVILLE 24 Tennessee 19
Denver 17 KANSAS CITY 9
CHICAGO 28 Minnesota 10
Atlanta 24 TAMPA BAY 23
MIAMI 24 Seattle 21
Baltimore 16 SAN DIEGO 13 (OT)
San Francisco 31 NEW ORLEANS 21
St. Louis 31 ARIZONA 17
NY GIANTS 38 Green Bay 10