Giants gain new life in season with 'must-win' over Ravens

With Eli Manning as their quarterback, all the Giants have to do is get into the playoffs and then they know anything is possible. Anything has been possible with Manning twice.

The Giants wouldn’t admit during the week that a loss Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens might bury them, might tilt the scales toward five straight seasons of not getting Manning to his best time of year.

But they were able to acknowledge it with smiles on their faces after Sunday’s 27-23 victory at MetLife Stadium, and frankly, that desperate realization may have fueled their ability to hang on in the face of such bleak hope – along with Manning’s gun-slinging and Odell Beckham Jr.’s magnificence, of course.

“This was a must-win,” said defensive captain Jonathan Casillas, the clinching tackler on the Giants’ goal-line stand that straddled the third and fourth quarters. “Maybe we didn’t say that too much. (A record of) 2-4 (is) not a good look. 3-3, that’s manageable. We’d have dropped two at home if we’d have lost this one, and that’s not cool at all. It’s a good way to get us back rolling.”

Odell Beckham proposes to Giants’ kicking net after scoring TD

Flying to London Thursday night on a four-game losing streak would have been miserable. The home crowd was already drowned in misery Sunday, showering boos after Beckham’s early fumble and a 10-0 deficit.

Odell Beckham's 222 yards receiving reinvigorated a Giants team that could have been buried.

Odell Beckham’s 222 yards receiving reinvigorated a Giants team that could have been buried.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Giants (3-3) were going on almost a full calendar month since their last win, 16-13 on Sept. 18 over the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 – their most recent example of triumph over adversity almost completely faded from view.

But a pivotal sequence reaffirmed the Giants’ belief: Manning and Beckham ripped off a 75-yard touchdown for a 17-13 lead with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter, and that was immediately answered by a Joe Flacco 70-yard bomb to Mike Wallace over Janoris Jenkins to the Giants’ 5-yard line.

What followed?

Odell Beckham explodes in second half to lift Giants over Ravens

“Incredible,” rookie defensive end Romeo Okwara said of the ensuing goal-line stand. “It was just a feeling. You knew just from the energy we had down there at the goal line they weren’t getting the ball in.”

Eli Manning tosses three touchdowns (and two interceptions) but finds a way to give the Giants a victory.

Eli Manning tosses three touchdowns (and two interceptions) but finds a way to give the Giants a victory.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Linebacker Devon Kennard said the defense resolved to have Jenkins’ back since Jenkins is “one of our, if not the, best player(s) on our defense.” Corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said Beckham’s explosion lit a fire under the defense.

“Listen, man, to sit back and just watch that man is amazing,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of No. 13. “He gives you that boost that you need as a defense like, ‘Man, this guy right here’s on fire. When he scores like that, we can’t let them in.’ So you kind of go out there with a little swag on the field.”

While Beckham was Sunday’s star, though, the Giants defense again was an unsung hero, just like in their Week 5 loss in Green Bay, when they held Aaron Rodgers’ offense to six second-half points.

The Big Blue ‘D’ allowed only six of the Ravens’ 23 points on drives of normal circumstance: 10 were scored off Giants offensive turnovers on shortened fields, and seven came off the unforgettable phantom fourth-quarter pass interference call against Rodgers-Cromartie.

The call on Rodgers-Cromartie, and the Giants’ three turnovers to the Ravens’ none – cancelling out a 15-to-7 penalty advantage in the home team’s favor – were examples of that old Murphy’s Law adage appearing to take over at MetLife Stadium: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Fortunately, the supposedly too-old Manning, 35, directed an offense that finished 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions, with one completion on each of those fourth downs to his top three receivers: first to Victor Cruz for 10 yards in the second quarter, then to Sterling Shepard for 10 yards in the third quarter, then Beckham for 66 yards in the fourth quarter, all on scoring drives, all examples of their franchise quarterback’s ability to thrive when given a chance.

“You’ve got to believe. You’ve got to believe that we’re going to make the plays we need to,” Manning said. “The defense did a great job getting stops, and offensively we didn’t start off great, but we got in a good rhythm. We were going. We were making plays. We had some unfortunate plays but we bounced back and made the plays that we needed to.”

There are countless issues to clean up: No running game. Jerell Adams lining up in the neutral zone on a Ravens punt to give Baltimore a first down. Larry Donnell not fighting for a first down or recognizing where the marker was to set up that pivotal fourth down before Beckham’s game-winning TD.

Jonathan Casillas makes a clutch fourth-down stop as the Giants 'D' also steps up its game.

Jonathan Casillas makes a clutch fourth-down stop as the Giants ‘D’ also steps up its game.

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Giants were bubbling in the locker room after this one, though, because they kept themselves in the hunt.

“That’s what you have to do in this league,” Manning added. “It’s not always going to be easy. It’s going to be tough at times, lulls – you’re playing great, you’re not playing great. But you’ve just got to believe you can do it every time and make the plays you need to win the game.”

He would know. The Giants just need to keep themselves relevant, and from there, anything is possible.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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