Every once in awhile Eli Manning has a game where he plays about as bad as any QB can play. Monday night vs the Cleveland Browns at Browns Stadium was one of those nights. The Super Bowl Champion Giants came to Cleveland with the number one ranked offense, third ranked defense, and an undefeated record, and walked out crushed after a Browns 35-14 trouncing.
Manning was awful most of the night, as he threw three bad picks, the worst of which was a pick with the team down 27-14 midway through the 4th quarter that was returned 94 yards by Eric Wright for a TD that put the game out of reach. The other two picks were not much better, as one was on a deep ball to Plaxico Burress at the start of the 3rd quarter that saw NY trailing 20-14 and with a shot to get back into the game.
All the blame cannot be placed on Manning, as the Giants defense was pretty bad all night long. Browns QB Derek Anderson played with confidence all night long, throwing for 310 yards and two scores in going 18-for-29. Braylon Edwards was his favorite target, catching five passes for 154 yards including an 11-yard score that made it 27-14 with 14:55 remaning in the game.
The Giants big bad pass rush never got to Anderson, as he had all kinds of time to throw, and was never sacked once. He looked confident and poised, and all the issues he had the first four weeks of the season when the team struggled to a 1-3 start were out the window right from the opening drive.
The Browns took the opening kickoff for a field goal by Phil Dawson to make it 3-0 with 10:08 to play in the first quarter. New York came back with their best drive of the night, a six-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Brandon Jacobs going in from 7 yards out to make it 7-3 NY with 12:09 left in the first half.
Cleveland then scored the next 14 points, as Jamal Lewis wrapped up a 74-yard drive with a 4-yard run that made it 10-7 with 11:10 left in the half. The team then went on a 9-play, 77-yard drive that concluded with Anderson going down the middle 22 yards to Darnell Dinkins for a score that made it 17-7 with 5:36 left in the half.
Plaxico Burress and Manning combined for the Giants last score of the night with 12 seconds left in the half, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive that closed the score to 17-14 at the half. It was as close as the Giants would get the rest of the night. Cleveland dominated the second half with 17 points to put the Super Bowl champs away for their first loss of the year.
The Browns put up 430 yards of offense, ran for 120 while throwing for 310, and beat up a team that almost everyone had pegged to be the best team in the league just over a month into the 08 season. The 2-3 Browns head to Washington to play the Redskins Sunday. The Giants will are at home Sunday for the 2-3 49’ers at 1pm.