[wpdevart_youtube width=”640″ height=”385″ autoplay=”0″ theme=”dark” loop_video=”0″ enable_fullscreen=”1″ show_related=”1″ show_popup=”0″ thumb_popup_width=”213″ thumb_popup_height=”128″ show_title=”1″ show_youtube_icon=”1″ show_annotations=”1″ show_progress_bar_color=”red” autohide_parameters=”1″ set_initial_volume=”false” initial_volume=”100″ disable_keyboard=”0″]5rs6jbhe1lw[/wpdevart_youtube]
Photo: BOBBY O’HARA/PureSportsNY
Following wins from their division rival Redskins, Eagles and Cowboys on Sunday, the Giants came into their primetime matchup with the Bengals needing to notch a victory of their own to keep pace in the much improved NFC East. The Giants got off to fast start storming 80 yards down the field in just 3 minutes and 55 seconds, culminating in a ten yard touchdown to tight end Jerell Adams. The touchdown was the first of Adams’ career and a good sign for the Giants offense, which has struggled to get into a rhythm frequently throughout the season. The success of the first drive also included the injury of left guard Brett Jones, who was starting in place of the injured Justin Pugh. Jones apparently suffered a strained calf on the drive and did not return for the rest of the game. The Giants early lead was short lived as they found a way to give it up when the Bengals got the ball on their first series. On the Bengals second play of the drive Andy Dalton found tight end Tyler Eifert over the middle behind the defense for a big play. Eifert’s 71 yard reception gave the Bengals a first and goal from the eight yard line. Following a penalty that moved them back to the thirteen yard line Dalton connected with his favorite receiver, A.J. Green for a 13 yard touchdown reception. The three play drive took just over two minutes off the clock and put the Giants defense on notice. For the remainder of the quarter the Giants offense struggled to put together another drive downfield. Their anemic running game could only muster 15 yards on their three drives in the quarter.
After the opening Bengals drive the Giants defense played well holding the Bengals offense to brief possessions that ended in punts. The Giants offense seemed to be on the verge of putting together their second successful drive of the game but on 4th down and 2 from the Bengals 37 yard line, defensive tackle Geno Atkins sacked Manning for an 11 yard loss and ended the drive. Throughout the first half Manning was frequently under pressure. Geno Atkins picked up 3 of the Bengals 5 quarterback hits, along with a sack as the offensive line struggled at times to give Manning ample time in the pocket. Later in the second quarter, Giants turnovers came up yet again to play a role as Manning’s pass intended for Roger Lewis was picked off by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. However thanks to the Giants defense the Bengals failed to score a touchdown from within the red zone. The Bengals started on the Giants seven yard line and on three consecutive plays were unable to gain a single yard. They settled for a 25 yard field goal which gave them the lead for a brief period of time. On the Giants following possession the offense put together their second strong drive of the half, marching 75 yards down the field, capped by a 1o yard touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. The superstar wide receiver was superb in the first half catching all eight passes thrown his way for 79 yards and the touchdown that gave the Giants a 14-10 lead heading into the locker room.
The Bengals opened the second half with a bang, silencing the crowd almost immediately. Kick returner Alex Erickson returned the kickoff 84 yards to the Giants 13 yard line and just two plays later Jeremy Hill scored on a 9 yard touchdown run. Soon after the touchdown the Bengals would add a field goal, extending their lead to 20-14. The air was virtually sucked out of the stadium as Giants fans watched the Bengals leap ahead of the Giants, scoring 10 straight points. The Giants offense sputtered in the third quarter going three and out on their first two series. On their final possession of the third quarter, the Giants started with excellent field position due to the defense forcing the Bengals to punt from within their own 10 yard line. The Giants offense got back into rhythm and methodically moved the ball downfield, highlighted by a 24 yard run from Rashad Jennings which put the Giants on Cincinnati’s nine yard line. Three plays later, as the fourth quarter began, coach Ben McAdoo decided to go on 4th down and goal from the three yard line. Manning found Sterling Shepard a yard shy of the end zone but he found his way in and the gamble paid off. The touchdown returned the lead to the Giants who now had a one point edge at 21-20. On the Bengals following possession Landon Collins came up in a big way yet again, nabbing his 4th interception of the year on a pass intended for tight end Tyler Kroft. Though the Giants would quickly return the favor when Eli Manning threw his second interception of the game. The deep ball intended for wide receiver Tavarres King was picked off by Bengals safety George Iloka. Later in the fourth quarter the Giants defense made what appeared to be their most important stop of the contest. With just over 6 minutes left, the Bengals took over on their own 9 yard line. Over the course of the six plays the Giants defense held them to 7 yards and sacked Andy Dalton twice forcing them to punt. The Giants were able to hold on to the ball at the end and run out the clock, sealing the 21-20 victory. All game long the Giants defense held Dalton, Green and the Bengals offense in check. The only drive of the game where the the Bengals looked cohesive was their opening drive of the game that resulted in an AJ Green touchdown. The win allows the Giants to keep pace in the division and improve their standing in the NFC wildcard playoff picture which is slowly beginning to reveal itself. This Sunday, the Giants will be going for their fifth straight win as they play host to the Chicago Bears at Metlife Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 O’Clock.
Dan Evans is a Contributing Writer for PureSportsNY You can find him on Twitter @DanEvansPSNY