It wasn’t the Super Bowl, but the result was the same. Which isn’t good for a Patriots team suddenly in a logjam in the AFC East.
Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass in the final minute and the Giants delivered another super-sized blow to Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Manning hit tight end Jake Ballard in the left side of the end zone with 15 seconds remaining Sunday, lifting the Giants to a 24-20 win over the Patriots in their first meeting since Super Bowl XLII.
The 80-yard drive was aided by a 20-yard pass interference penalty that moved the Giants (6-2) to the one-yard line, and the score came just 81 seconds after Brady found Rob Gronkowski in the front of the end zone for a 20-17 lead.
Manning was MVP of New York’s Super Bowl win over the Patriots in 2008 after leading his team on a game-winning drive, and he passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns for the Giants (6-2) in this one.
“When you’ve got Eli as the quarterback in a two-minute situation, I am confident all the way in and out,” Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. “Eli has been a beast all season long, ever since I’ve been in the league on two-minute drives, he has been great.”
Brady threw for 342 yards and two scores for New England (5-3), but also turned the ball over three times, leading to 10 New York points.
The Patriots have lost two in a row after falling to the Steelers last week, so Brady has been denied twice in his quest to set two personal milestones.
He remained on 116 career wins, one fewer than boyhood idol Joe Montana for No. 7 on the all-time list. Brady and Bill Belichick stayed tied with Dan Marino and Don Shula for the most wins by a quarterback-head coach combo in the Super Bowl era, also 116.
In addition, Brady had his NFL-record streak of 31 straight home wins in the regular season snapped.
“We made some plays and they made plays and it just kept going back and forth,” Brady said. “They just made some pretty good plays there at the end to win it.”
The Giants and Patriots scored all of their 44 points after a scoreless first half that featured more combined punting yards than yards of offense.
Kyle Arrington intercepted Manning in the end zone, a turnover that led to Brady’s game-tying five-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
But, after Stephen Gostkowski’s 45-yard field goal gave New England its first lead, Arrington was also called for a 35-yard pass interference penalty that allowed the Giants to go back on top.
Arrington never turned his head while guarding Mario Manningham deep down the left sideline. Six plays later, Manningham caught Manning’s 10-yard pass in the back left corner of the end zone for a 17-13 Giants lead.
Manningham jawed at Arrington after the play and was whistled for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, pushing the kickoff back to the 20.
It was returned 24 yards by Devin McCourty to the New England 36, giving Brady good field position for a 64-yard drive that ended with his strike to Gronkowski, making it 20-17 New England with 1:36 left.
New York’s final drive didn’t have the drama of David Tyree’s famous helmet catch from the Super Bowl, nor the panache of ending New England’s bid for a perfect season.
Instead, there was a 20-yard pass interference penalty on safety Sergio Brown for colliding with Victor Cruz. Ballard then beat linebacker Tracy White to the left side of the end zone and Manning’s pass was right there.
With the win, the Giants snapped a four-game regular season losing streak to the Patriots. The NFC East leaders have also won six of seven overall.
The Giants were without running back Ahmad Bradshaw because of a cracked bone in his foot and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks because of a hamstring injury.
Jacobs started for Bradshaw and rushed for a game-high 72 yards and a touchdown, while Wes Welker caught nine passes for 136 yards for the Patriots to lead all players.
The Giants forced Brady to commit two turnovers on the first four New England plays in the third quarter, turning them into a 10-0 lead.
Deon Grant jumped in front of his pass on the second play of the third quarter for Brady’s second interception of the game, and the Giants turned the pick into a 3-0 lead on Lawrence Tynes’ 22-yard field goal.
Three plays into the ensuing Patriots possession, linebacker Michael Boley came around Brady’s blind side and knocked the ball out for a fumble. Jacobs busted through the left side of the line on the next play, scoring a 10-yard touchdown to make it 10-0.
The Patriots, unable to move the ball, got a break when Aaron Ross fumbled a punt at the Giants 33. Still, they stalled at the 14 and Gostkowski kicked a 32-yard field goal to get them within 10-3.
Manning took a costly delay of game penalty deep in New England territory, then was picked off by Arrington in the left side of the end zone on a pass intended for a well-covered Manningham.
Looking more in command, Brady completed four passes on an 80-yard drive that was capped by Hernandez’s five-yard catch-and-lunge TD to tie the game at 10-10.