On a rainy Sunday afternoon in Rutherford, New Jersey, fans in MetLife stadium prepared to watch what was sure to be an easy Giants victory over the winless Cleveland Browns.
After the opening kickoff, the first play from scrimmage was an Ahmad Bradshaw run and fumble, setting up a quick Trent Richardson touchdown for the Browns, leaving some to wonder whether or not the giants came prepared.
After the first 27 minutes of the first half, that feeling was still lingering inside MetLife, but quickly dissipated in the following 3 minutes. The Giants were able to put up a quick 14-points off two costly Browns' turnovers, and headed into halftime up 24-17; they never looking back.
After coming back out in the second half it was all Giants. Ahmad Bradshaw dominated the Cleveland defensive front, while Eli Manning lit up the airways and Giants receivers burned the Cleveland secondary, while the Giants defense allowed only a field goal and “garbage-time” touchdown.
The game ended with a 41-27 score, and allowed the Giants to gain some ground in the NFC East with the Cowboys on their bye and the Eagles and Redskins both losing. As for the Browns, the loss is like adding salt to an open wound. The team is young and playing decent, but just can't make enough plays to put together a win.
Heroes- Ahmad Bradshaw
Bradshaw's season was looking less then impressive to say the least, and through three games he only had 133 yards and one touchdown. When he was replaced by backup Andre Brown, many thought Bradshaw had lost his starting job.
Low and behold, Coughlin stuck with Bradshaw when he returned from a neck injury that had sidelined him a week. In his first game back against Philadelphia, Bradshaw was only able to rack up 77 total yards. In the first play Sunday against the Browns, Bradshaw’s woes continued when he coughed up the ball on the first play from scrimmage. That would be the only downside of Bradshaw's day, as he went on to rush the ball 30 times for 200 yards and a score.
The last time Bradshaw ran for over 100 yards was Week 6 of last season. 200 yards is also a career high for the 5'10" back, who also pulled in 29 receiving yards.
The ground game for the Giants paced the offense and allowed a depleted receiving core, working with a number of backups, to beat the Cleveland secondary time and time again. Bradshaw needed a breakout game to silence his critics and this game against the Browns did just that, that is why Bradshaw gets the honor of game hero.
Heroes- Stevie Brown
Who? You know, the guy drafted by the Raiders with the 251st pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Oh you mean the guy that barely played his rookie season in Oakland, and then the following season only found a home on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad?
Yes, that Stevie Brown, the same guy who now starts for the New York Giants, after their secondary got depleted with injuries. Though Brown has been a relative unknown since being drafted in 2010, he may become a household name before too long.
In perhaps the two biggest plays of the game, where momentum had shifted completely, Brown was a key figure. Down 17-10 with the Browns driving, quarterback Brandon Weeden over-shot a receiver and Brown capitalized by intercepting the pass and returning it into Browns' territory. The Giants' offense then tied the game with a Bradshaw touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, another Giants' safety, Will Hill forced a Josh Cribbs fumble that was recovered by none other then Stevie Brown. Again the Giants were able to capitalize and went into halftime with a 24-17 lead. Had Brown not been apart of those two turnovers, the outcome of the game might have been quite different, fortunately for the Giants, Brown delivered. (UPS joke.)
Zeros- Cleveland cornerbacks Johnson Bademosi, Sheldon Brown, Trevin Wade, Buster Skrine and Dimitri Patterson
All of Cleveland's corners deserve the zero tag for this game. Although the Giants ground game gashed the Cleveland front for 244 yards, the secondary looked far worse.
On three separate occasions Eli Manning found Victor Cruz in the back of the end zone wide-open after Cleveland's corner bit the play action, and left Cruz unmanned.
Each play looked too unreal with how short the field was and how wide open Cruz had been. The first TD came on a 4-yard strike against Skrine, the second Cruz score was a 7-yard fade against Patterson, and the third and final touchdown to Cruz was a 28-yard strike that beat Wade. Three different corners, all beat stepping up to play action and giving the Giants easy points.
To round out the list of corners, Bademosi and Brown, who were often featured in nickel and dime defenses and were required to cover the other Giants receivers. Rookie Rueben Randle was able to have a career day against them racking up 6 catches for 82 yards, both career bests. The Cleveland secondary the duration of the game looked like they were guessing at whether or not it was a pass or run, and more often then not, they were wrong, which is why they get the honor of game zero.
Zeros- The 0-5 Cleveland Browns
For the first time since football came back to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns start their season 0-5.
Dating back to the 2011 season, the Browns are an even worse 0-11 in their last 11 games. Though the 2011 team and 2012 team look vastly different, the poor play and inability to win continues. The Browns are the only winless team left in the NFL.
The Browns are a young team with a lot of talent and potential. For the most part the Browns have stayed competitive and avoided blowouts, but at the end of the day a loss is still only a loss. It's tough to pinpoint where in Cleveland the problems are, so in this case, the entire team with have to take the unfortunate title of zero, ironically the same number of wins they have.
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