MetLife Stadium may be the host of Super Bowl XLVIII later this year, but on Sunday it was host to Dunder Bowl X-tra Cheese as the Giants beat the Raiders inspite of beating themselves for much of the afternoon.
A game that featured a combined two blocked punts and five turnovers, the Giants managed to make one less mistake than Oakland in Sunday's slop fest at the Meadowlands.
The Giants won this game solely on the play of their defense down the stretch of this football game. An interception by Terrell Thomas with New York down 20-14, set the stage for the second half surge. Raiders quarterback Terrell Pryor telegraphed a pass right to Thomas, who picked it off and brought the ball all the way back to the Raiders three-yard line before he was tackled.
Two plays later, Andre Brown dashed into the end zone for the touchdown to make it Big Blue 21, Black Hole 20.
Later Eli Manning engineered New York's best drive of the day, a 13 play 65-yard drive that ate up 6:56, keyed by a 25-yard pass to Hakeem Nicks, and a 15-yard slant to Victor Cruz. However, as has been the case all season a Giants' drive stalled inside the Raiders red zone. Andre Brown got stuffed on two consecutive hand-offs at the five yard line, before Manning's pass to Cruz was wide of its intended target. The Giants were forced to settle for a field goal, keeping the Raiders in the game.
More insanity would occur. A blocked punt of Giants punter Steve Weatherford, set up Oakland at their own 33 yard line, giving the Raiders renewed life to make one last comeback in the fourth quarter. However, this is where the Giants D stepped up. They harassed Pryor, forcing him to throw an incompletion on first down, before stripping him of the football on a desperate scramble. Cullen Jenkins recovered the loose football, and the Giants went on to victory.
Still, it wasn't pretty.
The first half itself featured three combined turnovers and a blocked punt between the two teams.
The Giants opened up the game making more special teams mistakes. Jerrel Jernigan's fumble on the opening kick-off was recovered by Oakland's Andre Holmes, setting up shop at the Giants five-yard line. Oakland pounded it in from there as Pryor dove over the pile for the score to make it 7-0.
The Giants soon responded when Cooper Taylor blocked a Raiders punt and brought it back for a touchdown to even it up at seven.
However, the turnover bug bit the Giants again on their next possession, when Peyton Hillis fumbled the football back to the Raiders at the Giants 21-yard line. Oakland settled for a field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
Finally, midway through the second quarter with the Giants back in front 14-10, Manning telegraphed his league leading 16th interception of the year to Tracey Porter, who went 43-yards for a score to give Oakland a 17-14 halftime lead. The pass was intended for Victor Cruz, but it should have never been thrown, as Manning looked Porter right in the eyes on the play.
In a lot of ways the Giants are lucky to have won this game. Considering all the mistakes this team made on Sunday, they would have succumbed to a better team, because the Raiders are still a mess.
Sure the Giants may have won three consecutive games, but all three have come against some bad football teams. They beat a Vikings team that has invented ways to lose this year; beat an Eagles team that was without its starting quarterback in Nick Foles; and today defeated a Raiders team that is ... well ... the Raiders.
Now the Giants get set for the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers. The Packers are clearly not the same team without Rodgers, a break for these silly Giants on their trek to make something out of this truly awful season. And in the woeful NFC East, where the Giants have now flipped over the Washington Redskins for third place in the division, and are only a game back in the loss column, they have a chance, believe it or not.