RB Darren Sproles added two touchdowns in the third quarter, one rushing and one through the air, as the Saints stayed within striking distance. QB Drew Brees has thrown for 236 yards and a touchdown through the first three quarters as the Saints trail the Giants, 35-27.
The Giants won the coin toss and elected to receive to start the two team’s first matchup in New Jersey since 2006.
QB Eli Manning and the Giants were held to just three plays on their first offensive series even after starting the drive in New Orleans territory.
Following the New York punt, QB Drew Brees took the field to lead the Saints offense. On third down, Brees found WR Marques Colston for a 30-yard strike down the middle of the field but Colston fumbled and the ball was recovered Giants S Antrel Rolle.
Manning couldn’t capitalize on the Saints turnover and made a costly mistake on third down, again inside New Orleans territory, as his pass was intercepted by CB Elbert Mack and returned 72 yards the other way for a Saints touchdown. K Garret Hartley made the extra point to give New Orleans an early 7-0 advantage.
On the next play, Giants RB David Wilson returned the kickoff 97 yards for a New York score. K Lawrence Tynes made the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
Brees then completed three consecutive passes, picking up two first downs through the air, when FB Jed Collins was stripped by Rolle after pulling in his first reception of the game. Giants DT Linval Joseph recovered the fumble and returned it 16 yards to the New Orleans 35-yard line.
Manning was finally able to put points on the board in the Giants’ third time inside the Saints territory. Two penalties on the black and gold defense moved New York closer to the endzone and Manning capped off the drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to TE Martellus Bennett. Tynes added the extra point to give the Giants a 14-7 lead.
The Saints then went down the field on a 14-play, 81 yard drive but were stopped short of the endzone by the Giants defense. Hartley made a 32-yard field goal and brought the score to 14-10 in the second quarter.
Following a missed field goal by Tynes, the Saints were able to score once more before halftime. RB Mark Ingram added 21 yards on the ground and RB Darren Sproles took a toss play 34-yards down the left sideline deep into New York territory. The Giants held New Orleans out of the endzone once again though and Hartley made a 25-yard field goal to make the score 14-13 inside the two-minute warning.
Manning was left with too much time though as he completed six-of-eight passes on a 69-yard drive and led the Giants to a score before the half. Manning ended the possession with a five-yard touchdown pass to WR Domenik Hixon. Tynes added the PAT to make the score 21-13 at the end of the first half.
The Saints received the ball to start the second half but Brees was intercepted off a tipped pass on the team’s first offensive play by S Stevie Brown. Brown returned the ball 21 yards to the New Orleans 20-yard line. After a completion for a first down by Manning, Wilson carried the ball six yards into the endzone for a Giants touchdown. Tynes made the extra point to give the Giants a 28-13 lead early in the third quarter.
Later in the third quarter, the Giants took over with the ball from their own 38-yard line. Manning completed four-of-four passes for 57 yards while gaining three first downs. Manning finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to WR Hakeem Nicks and Tynes added the extra point to increase New York’s lead to 35-13.
Brees and the Saints offense answered back quickly though. Brees found WR Joe Morgan deep down the field for a 62-yard completion. Sproles then carried the ball the rest of the way as he found his way into the endzone two plays later on a 13-yard rush. Hartley added the PAT to bring the score to 35-20.
An interception by S Isa Abdul-Quddus, the first of his career, gave the ball back to the Saints offense. After finding TE Jimmy Graham for a 27-yard completion, with Ingram adding 26 yards on the ground, Brees was able to connect on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Sproles for the running back’s second score of the quarter. Hartley added the extra point to bring the game within one touchdown, 35-27 at the end of the third quarter.
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