Andre Brown ran two yards for a touchdown with 31 seconds to play on Sunday as quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants rallied for a 41-34 NFL victory over Tampa Bay.
With the dramatic victory, the reigning Super Bowl champion bounced back from a season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Manning, bedevilled by three first-half interceptions, atoned with two of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. His 510 passing yards were a career high and just three yards shy of the club record of 513 set by Phil Sims in 1985.
Brown carried the ball 13 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. Victor Cruz caught 11 passes for 179 yards and a TD and Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks 10 times for 199 yards and a score.
“No one wants to start 0-2, even though we’ve done that before and made a run and got into the playoffs,” Manning said. “It’s a big win, especially with the first half, playing poorly and last week not playing well. We’ve got to get back to that level of playing good football, and the second half was really good — no fumbles, no turnovers, we did some things better obviously, made some big-time plays and stepped up when we needed.”
The Giants were trailing 27-13 early in the third quarter when Lawrence Tynes’ field goal got the rally rolling.
New York scored 21 straight points to take a 34-27 lead with 3:59 remaining.
Tampa Bay responded with a touchdown as Mike Williams caught a 41-yard pass in the left side of the end zone to knot the score.
However, Manning and the Giants had the answer. Nicks caught a 50-yard pass down the right sideline to put the Giants in scoring position.
Brown followed with a nine-yard run and reached the end zone for his first career touchdown on the next play.
The game ended on an acrimonious note after Bucs coach Greg Schiano instructed his defensive players to go hard against the Giants as Manning knelt down to let the clock tick down on the final play.
The move irked Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who confronted Schiano after the game while Manning called it “a little bit of a cheap shot.”
“We taking a knee, in a friendly way. They are firing off, and it’s a way to get someone hurt,” Manning said.
While the Giants were back in the winner’s circle, the New England Patriots and superstar quarterback Tom Brady were shocked 20-18 by the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
By his standards Brady had a tough day. He was intercepted on New England’s first offensive play and sacked four times.
Brady completed 28 of 46 passes for 316 yards and extended his streak to 34 games with at least one touchdown pass. That is the fourth-best such streak in NFL history, but it proved too little when Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yard field goal attempt with one second remaining.
The Patriots had not lost a home opener since moving into their current Gillette Stadium in 2002.
“Nobody gave us a chance,” Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “But our guys believed they could do it, and it’s great to see them operate that way.”
In Indianapolis, Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-winning field goal with eight seconds left as the Colts edged the Minnesota Vikings 23-20.
It was a first NFL victory for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who was taken with the first pick in the NFL draft to succeed four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning.