By Paul Dottino
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Call it ugly if you must, but the Giants answered the bell for coach Tom Coughlin.
Josh Brown’s 45-yard field goal with 7:32 left in overtime lifted the Giants to a 23-20 come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions, who needed the game to stay in playoff contention.
A bit sloppy? Sure. Each team had a lead and a chance to grab the game by the throat and failed to do so. In the end, the Giants (6-9) reached back and made enough plays to post their sixth win in their past nine games.
We are going to have a few dual-recipients this week, given their big-play contributions.
Offense: WRs Jerrel Jernigan (6/80 yards) and Rueben Randle (4/40) — Each caught a significant pass on the winning drive. Jernigan slid across the middle to snare a 4th-and-7 throw for 15 yards to the Detroit 27.
Five plays earlier, Randle cut in from the left side and his 26-yard catch on 3rd-and-9 brought the Giants to the Detroit 45. Jernigan also caught a 20-yard TD pass over the middle to put the Giants up, 10-3, with 2:19 left in the first half. And don’t forget how Jernigan touched both feet inbounds on a 12-yard catch (3rd-and-10) to the Giants 42. He was awarded the grab after a replay and the drive ended with a Josh Brown FG for a 3-0 lead
Defense: FS Will Hill and DE Mathias Kiwanuka — Hill, who was strong in kick coverage, picked off an errant Matthew Stafford pass and raced 38 yards down the sideline for a TD — and with the PAT — the Giants tied the game at 20 with 4:57 remaining. He finished with nine tackles.
Meanwhile, Kiwanuka had his best game of the season. He recorded six tackles, two sacks on five QB hits, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. With 1:10 left in the fourth, Kiwanuka sacked Stafford on 3rd-and-10 from the Detroit 20. In the second quarter, the Giants converted Kiwanuka’s strip of RB Reggie Bush at the Giants 45 (recovered by Antrel Rolle) into Jernigan’s score. On the first drive of the game, Kiwanuka’s third-down sack for 12 yards left the Lions out of field-goal range at the Giants’ 45.
Special Teams: PK Josh Brown and KOR Michael Cox — Brown’s winning field goal ended the game, adding to the 52-yarder he drilled to put the Giants ahead, 13-3, with nine seconds left in the half. Cox ripped off a 56-yard kickoff return to start overtime, allowing the Giants to tilt the field.
Offense: LT Will Beatty — It has been a very tough season for him, having struggled in pass protection (his best attribute) since the beginning. Beatty allowed two more sacks in this one — the biggest a Nick Fairley safety that cut the Giants’ lead to 13-12 late in the third quarter. Beatty’s first miscue allowed DE Ezekiel Anzah to drill Eli Manning for a 9-yard loss to the 50 with 33 seconds left in the half.
Defense: MLB Jon Beason — Don’t be fooled by his team-leading 11 stops. Beason had several inaccurate run fits, missed tackles and he struggled a bit in pass coverage. But given the number of plays he DID make, he only needs to run one sprint.
Special Teams: LB Spencer Paysinger — He had a missed tackle that could have prevented the 50-yard punt return by Jeremy Ross to the Giants’ 30 early in the third quarter. CB Charles James appeared to lose containment on the Lions’ sideline but Paysinger needed to make the hit. Then, Detroit went on an eight-play TD march and grabbed a 13-10 edge.
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