Manning throws four TDs as Giants stomp Saints

Updated: December 10, 2012

Eli Manning threw for a season-high four touchdowns as the New York Giants maintained their grasp on first place in the NFC East with a 52-27 pasting of the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium.

David Wilson rushed for a career-best 100 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns — one on a 97-yard kickoff return — to help New York (8-5) achieve its highest single-game point total since a 55-24 victory over Green Bay on Dec. 20 of its 1986 championship season.

“We did a lot of good things today” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. “And yet, we’ve got more to get done.”

The win also kept the Giants in front of both Dallas and Washington for the top spot in the NFC East, with a 1-3 stretch that preceded Sunday’s matchup enabling the Cowboys and Redskins to close the gap.

Manning finished with 259 yards on 22-of-35 passing and was intercepted twice, while Victor Cruz compiled 121 yards and a touchdown on eight catches to lead New York’s receiving corps.

“It was a good performance in all three phases,” said Manning. “Offense, defense, special teams obviously was outstanding. Defense getting the turnovers and the offense scoring touchdowns, making enough plays and scoring enough points to get the win.

Drew Brees amassed 354 yards and a touchdown while completing 26-of-43 attempts for New Orleans (5-8), but was intercepted twice as the Saints suffered their third straight loss and saw their fading playoff hopes take another devastating hit.

“That was an embarrassment today, what took place on the football field” said a frustrated Saints coach Joe Vitt. “It starts with me and that’s where the blame should go. I didn’t do a good enough job of getting this football team prepared.”

Darren Sproles recorded both a rushing and receiving touchdown for New Orleans, with Joseph Morgan accumulating 106 yards on only two catches.

Clinging to a 14-13 edge at the two-minute warning of the first half, the Giants erupted for touchdowns on three straight possessions that surrounded the intermission to break the game open, albeit temporarily.

The first came on a 9-play, 69-yard series in which New York needed just 1:37 to reach paydirt, with Manning going a sharp 6-of-8 for 75 yards on the sequence. A 35-yard deep strike to Cruz moved the Giants into the red zone with just over a minute left before halftime, and Manning later hit Domenik Hixon on a fade route in the right corner of the end zone with just 20 seconds on the clock to send Big Blue into the locker room owning a 21-13 advantage.

Stevie Brown then picked off Brees’ pass that deflected off the fingertips of tight end Jimmy Graham on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, returning the turnover 21 yards to the New Orleans’ 20. The miscue set up Wilson’s 6-yard scoring run that extended the margin to 15 points less than two minutes into the third quarter.

After the Giants induced a quick three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Manning went to work once again. The two-time Super Bowl MVP connected with Hakeem Nicks on two long passes, one a 23-yarder into Saints territory and the second a 25-yard sideline bomb that put New York ahead by a 35-13 count near the midway mark of the third quarter.

The Saints would put forth a comeback bid before the close of the period, however, netting a pair of touchdowns within a 5 1/2-minute stretch to make it a one-score game.

New Orleans needed only three plays and 52 seconds to answer Nicks’ score, with Brees hooking up with Morgan for a 62-yard gain on a swift march capped by Sproles’ 13-yard dash around left end.

After Malcolm Jenkins picked off a telegraphed Manning throw to thwart a potential scoring opportunity on New York’s next touch, Brees took the Saints 68 yards in six plays to find the end zone again. A 27-yard dart to Graham placed New Orleans within the Giants’ 20, and Sproles took a short feed nine yards across the goal line three plays afterward to pull the Saints within 35-27 nearing the conclusion of the third quarter.

The Giants would once more have a response, however. Wilson took the kickoff back 60 yards before being pulled down at the enemy 25, providing excellent field position for a short drive that ended in Manning’s 10-yard scoring pass to Cruz just 40 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Brown then killed perhaps New Orleans’ last chance for a comeback with his second interception of the day, which came after the Saints got as far as the New York 21-yard line. The safety returned the pick 70 yards to the New Orleans’ 22, leading to a Lawrence Tynes’ 39-yard field goal for a 45-27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.

The Saints couldn’t get a first down on their next two drives, and Wilson put the finishing touches on the win by ripping off a 52-yard touchdown run with 5:10 remaining.

The Giants found themselves in an early 7-0 hole despite getting inside the New Orleans’ 30 on their second possession of the day. However, Saints cornerback Elbert Mack jumped the route on Manning’s intended target for Jerrel Jernigan and sprinted untouched 73 yards to open the scoring with 9:38 to go in the initial quarter.

It took New York a mere 13 seconds to counter, however, as Wilson broke loose on the subsequent kickoff and outraced the coverage team for a 97-yard score to knot the contest at 7-7.

A fumble by Saints fullback Jed Collins that defensive tackle Linval Joseph lumbered 16 yards to the New Orleans’ 35 led to the Giants’ next touchdown, a 6-yard delivery from Manning to Martellus Bennett that snapped the tie late in the first quarter.

New Orleans failed to generate much offense early on, but Brees and his mates got untracked with a pair of sustained jaunts in the second quarter that ended in field goals.

The Saints churned out 81 yards in 14 plays on a drive that began on their own 5-yard line, with most of the damage coming via the air, but were forced to settle for a Garrett Hartley 32-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 14-10 after sputtering inside the red zone.

After Tynes missed a 36-yard field goal try on New York’s next trip, a 34-yard scamper by Sproles set the stage for Hartley’s 25-yard kick with 1:57 remaining in the half.