The hit was so violent, so vicious, that it stopped Jake Ballard cold.
Brandon Spikes saw the play unfold right in front of him, watching the Giants' tight end about to catch an Eli Manning pass over the middle.
Ballard never saw him coming.
The Patriots' linebacker closed the 5-yard gap between them, lowered his shoulder as Ballard turned upfield and unloaded, dropping him to the turf.
But Ballard held onto the football. And three quarters later, when the Giants needed him to make an even bigger catch, he leaped between two Patriots defenders leaving himself vulnerable.
And did so without fear.
"I don't even think about that," he said. "That doesn't even come into my mind when I am running around. As long as I catch it, I'm not worried about what happens afterwards."
Ballard has made arguably the two most important receptions of the Giants' season thus far, both on the game-winning drive Sunday that resulted in a 24-20 victory over the Patriots.
Ballard made a leaping, one-...