Giants avoid disaster to keep Browns winless with 27-13 victory

CLEVELAND — The Giants avoided disaster.

Despite a miserable start offensively and a slew of untimely mental mistakes, Big Blue pulled out a 27-13 victory over the winless Browns Sunday afternoon at First Energy Stadium behind yet another brilliant performance from its defense.

The Giants (8-3) have now won six straight regular season games for the first time since 2008.

Jason Pierre-Paul led the way for a defensive unit that has emerged as one of the best in the NFL. He sacked Browns quarterback Josh McCown three times, including a forced fumble to cement the win, and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to break the game open.

Odell Beckham returns to Giants-Browns after thumb injury

Odell Beckham scored two touchdowns and had six receptions for 96 yards.

Odell Beckham scored two touchdowns and had six receptions for 96 yards.

(Ron Schwane/AP)

On the touchdown, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins beat his man off the line and got a hand to McCown’s throwing arm. The ball popped up in the air and into the waiting arms of JPP, who scampered 43 yards to the end zone to put the Giants ahead, 20-6.

The Browns responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive that McCown capped off with a 21-yard touchdown completion to Corey Coleman, cutting the deficit to seven points. But Odell Beckham Jr. caught his second touchdown of the day with 5:10 remaining to seal a Giants victory.

Eli Manning completed 15 of his 27 attempts for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Beckham, who twice went to the locker room in the first half because of a thumb injury, caught six passes for 96 yards. His first touchdown came on an electrifying 32-yard catch and run in the closing minutes of the second quarter.

Jason Pierre-Paul was all over Browns quarterback Josh McCown in the Giants victory.

Jason Pierre-Paul was all over Browns quarterback Josh McCown in the Giants victory.

(Ron Schwane/AP)

Beckham was also forced into punt-returning duties to start the second half after reserve running back Bobby Rainey muffed a punt earlier in the contest. Rainey had replaced Dwayne Harris, who nearly cost the Giants the game in last week’s win over the Bears when he botched a punt-return catch late in the game.

A Giants loss against dismal Browns would be catastrophic

On Sunday, Beckham returned the fourth punt he saw 59 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but a Mark Herzlich holding penalty nullified the dazzling run — one of many costly penalties for the Giants in a sloppy affair.

It was those blunders that forced Ben McAdoo once again to rely on his defense.

Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Giants’ front took advantage of the Browns’ league-worst offensive line, sacking McCown seven times while totaling eight tackles for loss. Pierre-Paul posted his second straight multi-sack performance.

Olivier Vernon, meanwhile, recorded a sack for the fourth straight game.

Browns have to call timeout before first play in loss to Ravens

So it was no surprise when the Giants defense set up the opening score of the game more than halfway into the second quarter. After the teams punted on the first seven possessions of the contest, Big Blue defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harris forced Browns running back Isaiah Crowell into a fumble. Giants linebacker Devon Kennard recovered at the Cleveland 31-yard line.

*** BESTPIX ***

Odell Beckham.

(Jason Miller)

The Giants then found the end zone two plays later. First, Manning rolled to his right on a play-action waggle and fired on the run to rookie Roger Lewis for a gain of 18. On the ensuing snap, Manning floated a jump ball to Harris in the back-left corner of the end zone, and the receiver came down with his first catch of the season.

After Harris’ touchdown, the Giants D forced the Browns to punt. But Rainey muffed the kick and the Browns recovered, setting up a short field for Cleveland. McCown led the offense all the way down the 3-yard line. However, the Browns settled for a field goal to cut the deficit to four points with less than two minutes left in the half.

The Giants offense finally showed some explosiveness when it got the ball back. Manning connected with Victor Cruz down the right sideline for a 37-yard gain. Then Beckham caught a short crossing route and pulled away from All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden with blazing speed, galloping to the pylon untouched to give his team a 14-3 lead.

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The flurry of points before the half wasn’t over. Two crushing penalties — a pass interference on rookie Eli Apple and a holding on Trevin Wade — kept the Browns drive alive, as they drove into field goal range for another Cody Parkey field goal, this time from 25 yards out.

The Giants carried a 14-6 lead into halftime, and the defense took over the in the second half.

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nfl
new york giants
cleveland browns

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