Eli Manning’s performance was impressive. But, Drew Brees was better.
Despite over 400-yards passing from Manning, the New Orleans Saints breezed past the New York Giants, 49-24, Monday night in the Big Easy. Brees was extremely balanced against New York, torching the Giants from under center and out of the shotgun. He passed at will, completing 24-of-38 passes for 363-yards and four touchdowns. And the Saints’ quarterback ran for an 8-yard score, where he froze his lone defender with a zigzag scramble which ended with him belly-flopping across the end zone. One this night it seemed as if Brees did whatever he wanted. He celebrated his touchdown by imitating his tight end Jimmy Graham’s -who had five receptions for 84 yards, including two touchdowns- goal post slam, with his own variation of Michael Jordan’s cradle-dunk over the crossbars. He later apologized to MJ for his atrocious attempt after the game.
The Saints never trailed, striking first early in the second quarter on Brees’ 4-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Lance Moore, who caught a quick throw on the right side and dove to stretch the ball across the goal line before he was tackled. The pair connected again right before the half. After a forced Giants punt with over a minute remaining, Brees found Marques Colston, who had three catches for 78 yards, on a short pass on the first play of the drive and the wide receiver bolted for 50 yards down the sideline. Five plays later, Brees hit Moore in the end zone from 10-yards out, and the Saints had gone 10 plays for 88 yards in 34 seconds, seizing control of the game for good. It was the second of three touchdown drives of more than 80 yards in the opening half. Late in the fourth quarter, the Saints took over in their own territory and padded their rushing stats with 205 yards carried, when rookie Mark Ingram, who is the son of former Giants’ great Mark Ingram, cut to the left sideline and ran 35-yards for the score in the last minute for the final 49-24.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Brees is the first player ever to pass for 350-yards, four touchdowns and a rush TD on Monday Night Football. The Saints general became the third QB in NFL history with multiple games with at least 350 yards passing and four thrown TDs on MNF. The only others quarterbacks to accomplish that are Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady. Last night, Brees took back the NFL passing lead from Brady, surpassing him for 3,689 yards, which keeps him on pace to break Marino’s 1984 single-season mark of 5,084 yards.
Back in his hometown, Manning went 33-of-47 for 406-yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Despite putting up a 101.9 QBR, Manning just could not keep up with Brees. He completed 21 straight passes for the Giants, but his valiant effort came after the outcome was decided. Since entering the league in 2004, no quarterback has thrown more picks in the red-zone than Manning, who threw his third on the season and the 16th of his career Monday night, to surpass Brees (15) on the list of most interceptions.
The Giants could not take advantage of the Saints’ mistakes, as New Orleans was called for eleven penalties totaling 104 yards lost. Although, their passing game narrowed the margin of victory, the Giants rush was non-existent as the Saints’ limited their offense to just 73 total rushing yards. New York hopes to get starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) back into the lineup soon. Breakout, second year, wide receiver Victor Cruz had two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one for 72 yards and the other a short score of 4 yards.
New York (6-5) has lost three consecutive games and thoughts of another second-half collapse by the Giants continue to linger. The past two seasons Big Blue has endured a couple of meltdowns that prevented them from a playoff berth. But as history shows, the Giants, once division leaders, will keep fighting. They sit a game behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East and next week’s opponent will make their race that much harder, when Aaron Rodgers and the lone undefeated Green Bay Packers (11-0) visit MetLife Stadium.
New Orleans (8-3), meanwhile, maintained a one-game lead over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South after their bye week. The Saints’ will host the Detroit Lions (7-4) Sunday, who look to rebound after their lost to the Packers on Thanksgiving. (Photo)