So much for that tired arm for Eli Manning, and that offensive slump for the New York Giants. They got it fixed in their bye week, then routed the Green Bay Packers 38-10 Sunday night.
The Packers certainly can attest to New York's turnaround following a week off. The showcase game was decided early as the Giants outscored the Packers 31-10 in the opening half. Manning reached 200 career TD passes by throwing for three scores as New York (7-4) snapped a two-game slide, ended Green Bay's five-game winning streak, and opened a two-game lead in the NFC East.
"Play like world champions," coach Tom Coughlin said. "That was the theme of our meetings this week and Saturday."
The Packers (7-4) were missing such key starters as linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive back Charles Woodson and receiver Greg Jennings, and it showed as they fell one game behind NFC North leader Chicago. After being manhandled in last season's playoffs by the Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl, the Packers weren't much more competitive this time. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times, including twice by Mathias Kiwanuka, who spent much of the game at defensive tackle rather than in his usual linebacker spot.
New York's balanced attack was guided by Manning, who had his first strong game in a month with 249 yards passing.
"I never thought my arm was tired, never felt like it," Manning said. "After a week off, you come back to practice, it felt good, alive, balls coming out with a little pop on it.
"After 10 weeks, it definitely needed a little rest."
Coughlin knew Manning would return with some extra verve.
"There was no doubt he was going to come back and play well," Coughlin said. "I think the rest really helped him. ... Eli said he felt as if he was coming back for the start of the season. I was very confident he would come back and be Eli."
Ahmad Bradshaw gained a combined 119 yards and scored a touchdown. He had the first big play of the night to begin the offensive onslaught.
New York struck early with a brilliantly conceived screen pass to Bradshaw off a fake reverse to Victor Cruz. Bradshaw sped down the field before being caught at the Green Bay 2, a 59-yard pickup that led to Andre Brown's scoring run.
Brown later broke his leg; Coughlin did not say which leg after the game.
"It will be a tough loss, he is an important player," Manning said.
Green Bay didn't flinch, with Jordy Nelson getting behind Corey Webster in single coverage down the right sideline for a 61-yard TD reception from Rodgers.
The scoring flurry went back in the Giants' favor — and pretty much stayed there — when Manning hit Rueben Randle in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard TD. It was the first score for the rookie and Manning's first touchdown throw in four games, and he set it up with, of all things, a scramble in which he laid his shoulder into Packers cornerback Tramon Williams for a 13-yard gain.
"It sparked our sideline," Coughlin said. "It would not be the recommended way. To see him do that kind of sent the message to the rest of our te Whatever you have to do to succeed, do it."
Webster's interception led to Lawrence Tynes' 43-yard field goal late in the first quarter for a 17-7 lead, and the Giants weren't nearly done. Manning's 9-yard connection with Cruz tied him for the club record with 199 career TD passes, and after Osi Umenyiora's strip-sack of Rodgers was recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul at the Green Bay 23, Bradshaw scored from the 13.
The 31 points were the most New York scored in a half all season and nearly equaled the 33 it scored in its two losses before the bye.
And the Giants had more offense in them. Manning threw his 200th TD pass to move ahead of Phil Simms, a 13-yarder over the middle to Hakeem Nicks, who stretched the ball over the goal line as he was tackled.
"There was a different enthusiasm in practices," Manning said, "and I think that paid off in the game."
The Giants lost safety Kenny Phillips with a knee injury in the third quarter. He was making his first appearance since Week 4, when he was sidelined with a knee problem. Right tackle David Diehl sustained a stinger in the first half.
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