Third time's a charm.
Rashad Jennings ran for a career-high 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries and Victor Cruz was able to salsa for the first time in almost a year as the Giants beat the Texans, 30-17, at a rowdy MetLife Stadium. The win was the first in what was shaping up to be a miserable beginning to the season for the Giants (1-2) and starting to eerily resemble last year's 0-6 start. The Giants had lost their last seven games in September.
Eli Manning completed 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards and, most importantly, no interceptions. The Giants defense managed three interceptions off Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, their first three takeaways of the season, and did not allow a third-down conversion until there was less than five minutes left in the game.
The win wound up a dominant one, but it wasn't all an easy stroll for the Giants. They punted on their first possession, drove to the Texans' 4 before turning the ball over on a Larry Donnell fumble on their second. The Texans (2-1) converted a fake punt. A 61-yard reception by Cruz was rendered useless when Zak DeOssie skidded a snap on a 30-yard field-goal attempt early in the second quarter. Those were the self-inflicted mistakes Tom Coughlin had been grousing about through the first two weeks. The Giants were so very good at moving the ball and so very bad at holding onto it that by the time they scored their first touchdown to go ahead 7-0, they had outgained the Texans 261 yards to 71.
It was Cruz who caught a 26-yard pass to get the Giants on the board. Jennings picked up a blitz up the middle, giving Manning time to step into a short pass to the 20 where Cruz caught it, cut outside against Kareem Jackson and beat A.J. Bouye to the corner pilon. It was Cruz's first touchdown since Week 4 last year in Kansas City and his first touchdown at MetLife Stadium since the last game of the 2012 season.
The second touchdown came much quicker than the first, just 2:14 later. Antrel Rolle picked off Fitzpatrick and returned it 25 yards to the 2, and three plays later Jennings walked into the end zone behind blocks from Justin Pugh and John Jerry. That made it 14-0 at halftime.
After the Texans turned the ball over on downs to start the third quarter, Josh Brown kicked his first field goal of the season, a 39-yarder, to make it 17-0. The Texans got on the board with a field goal to make it 17-3 and then climbed back into the contest with a touchdown on a four-play, 93-yard drive that essentially consisted of two plays: a 46-yard run by backup running back Alfred Blue, who was starting place of Arian Foster (hamstring), and a 44-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Damaris Johnson that beat the coverage of Trumaine McBride and Stevie Brown. The Giants responded with a 10-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal to go back ahead by two scores, 20-10, with 12:19 left.
The Giants sealed the win when Manning hit tight end Daniel Fells for a sliding 9-yard touchdown reception that was set up by some key coaching decisions. Fitzpatrick looked to scramble 8 yards for a first down on 3rd-and-8, but Coughlin challenged the spot and the ball was moved back a yard. The Texans were forced to punt and the Giants lined up pass-rushers Damontre Moore and Jason Pierre-Paul on the outside. Moore blocked the punt to set the offense up at the Texans' 29 and three plays later it was 27-10 with 9:25 remaining. Brown added a third field goal after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's first interception as a Giant to make it 30-10.
Fitzpatrick scrambled for a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 30-17 with 2:00 remaining. Donnell recovered the onside kick attempt by the Texans.