GLENDALE, Ariz. (WFAN/AP) — For a few electric moments, Eli Manning was that Super Bowl MVP again, and that was enough to give the Giants a thrilling comeback win in Arizona.
Playing on the field where he led the Giants to an upset victory over New England in the 2008 Super Bowl, Manning threw two late touchdown passes in a 58-second span after Arizona seemingly had things under control and led New York to a 31-27 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.
Arizona took a 27-17 lead with 5:16 to play before Manning took over. His first TD pass went 2 yards to Jake Ballard with 3:37 remaining, the second 29 yards to Hakeem Nicks with 2:39 to go.
“I knew we had to score quick, and I felt very good about our hurry-up offense,” Manning said. “I was a little worried we scored a little too quickly, but the defense held up.”
Listen: Manning after stunning comeback
Nicks, who caught 10 passes for 162 yards, knew what to expect of his quarterback and the rest of the offense when the game was on the line.
“He’s done it before,” Nicks said. “I don’t get surprised. It’s just a matter of stepping up and making plays when the time makes itself available.”
Manning needed only two passes for the 48-yard, game-winning TD drive, but the first one almost unraveled the whole comeback story line. Manning threw to Victor Cruz, who stumbled to the ground, got up and left the ball on the ground on a play the Cardinals insisted was a fumble. The referee said the call could not be challenged because Cruz “gave himself up” on the play and therefore was down.
The rule book says a play is over when a runner “declares himself down by falling to the ground, or kneeling, and making no effort to advance.”
The Cardinals were still fuming when Manning ran the next play, throwing to Nicks for the go-ahead score.
“It hurts because we thought it was a fumble and it should be our ball, and then we probably win the game,” Arizona defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. “Then you get caught up in the emotion and they line up and throw a deep ball. They took advantage of our emotions.”
Manning completed 7 of 8 passes for 126 yards on the decisive drives as the Giants (3-1) won their third in a row. He finished 27 of 40 for 371 yards. Nicks caught 10 passes for 162 yards.
Arizona rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson was asked what Manning did differently on those last two possessions.
“Honestly, he didn’t do anything impressive,” Peterson said. “We’ve just got to make plays, to be honest with you.”
Going to the no-huddle got things in gear for the Giants just in time.
“They ran the ball on us, they threw the ball on us,” New York coach Tom Coughlin said. “We had many occasions where we weren’t able to make any first downs. For us to come back and play like we did and have an opportunity — we still gave the ball away on the 5 — and to overcome it, it is a real testimony for the guys to keep on playing.”
Wells, who missed the previous game because of a hamstring injury, rushed for a career-best 138 yards.
The Cardinals’ last gasp ended when Kevin Kolb’s pass to Larry Fitzgerald from the New York 30 fell incomplete. Arizona has lost three in a row, all in the same excruciating fashion.
“I know we are learning about ourselves,” Kolb said. “You get better every time you do it, but it’s frustrating, especially in this case, to see them do it, then we didn’t back it up. I’m sure you would get every player up here telling you, ‘It’s our fault, it’s our fault, it’s our fault.’ Both sides of the ball had a chance to put the nail in the coffin and we missed out.”
Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 102 yards to break the franchise records for career yards receiving and career 100-yard games. Kolb was 20 for 34 for 237 yards, with one interception and one lost fumble.
Kolb was sacked four times, twice each by Dave Tollefson and Osi Umenyiora, who played for the first time this season after coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Giants were without defensive end Justin Tuck because of neck and groin injuries that kept him out of practice most of last week.
Eli just keeps finding ways to win. Giants fans, get your gloat on in the comments below…
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