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Eli Manning Saves Eli Manning

The Giants come back for a 41-34 win over the Bucs



    Eli Manning Saves Eli Manning
    Eli likes a high degree of difficulty.

    If you were looking for an easy Giants win to set the world back in order after the Week One debacle against Dallas, you were disappointed by the team's 41-34 win over the Bucs at the Meadowlands. 

    If you just wanted to see a wild football game, though, you got more than your money's worth. The Giants fell behind by 11 points at the half as a result of three Eli Manning interceptions -- all of which led to Buccaneers touchdowns -- and then wound up storming back to take a 34-27 lead with 21 straight points in the second half.

    But Bucs receiver Mike Williams caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman after it caromed off cornerback Justin Tryon's helmet and the score was tied at the two-minute warning. That's Eli's time to shine and he was able to pull it off. 

    He hit Hakeem Nicks, who was unstoppable all day by everyone who wasn't Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, for 50 yards to set up an Andre Brown touchdown run. It goes into the books as another Manning fourth quarter comeback, but this one really should come with a gigantic asterisk.  

    Manning ended the game with a ridiculous 510 yards, which would seem to make it one of the finest days of his career as long as you ignore the fact that the Giants would have routed the Bucs if not for Manning's insistence on throwing interceptions at every possible turn in the first half. It takes nothing away from how well Manning played in the final moments to say that the only reason he had to play well is because he was so awful in the first half. 

    You could extend that to the team's inability to put the ball into the end zone when they got close to it. The Giants made four trips to the red zone before Brown's winning touchdown and they settled for field goals every time because of inane play calls by Gilbride, drops by open receivers and other miscues across the offense. 

    The game remained close because the Bucs offense couldn't do anything against the Giants defense when they weren't handed golden field position and that meant Eli had a chance to play hero one more time. That, and not his putrid first half, is what will be important in the long run because the Giants are now 1-1 and able to exhale. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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