New York Giants: What We Learned from Week 5 Win over Cleveland Browns
After falling behind 14-0 in the first half, the Giants came roaring back and scored 27 unanswered points in the second and third quarters and beat Cleveland 41-27.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be an ugly game for the Giants, but then they remembered they were the defending Super Bowl champions and played like the better team.
With the victory, the Giants improved to 3-2 on the season and will next play the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6, a game that will be a rematch of the 2011 NFC Championship Game.
What did we learn from the Giants this week against Cleveland?
Click through to continue and find out.
The Giants Struggled Against Trent Richardson
For the second week in a row, another star running back gave the Giants defense a major fit.
Trent Richardson said he could run the ball and make plays against the Giants, and he backed up his words.
The rookie had 17 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, along with five catches for 47 yards.
What really impressed me about Richardson is how elusive he is and his ability to shed defenders.
The Giants aren't a bad defense, but on Sunday, Richardson was making them look like one.
The best way to stop him is by gang tackling him, because at times, one and two defenders weren't getting it done.
The Giants' Pass Rush Was Nonexistent
I honestly thought this game would be the one in which the Giants' defensive line got going and put pressure on the opposing quarterback.
It was the opposite. In fact, the pass rush was nonexistent.
Shockingly, the Giants defense failed to sack Brandon Weeden even once.
I have to give a lot of credit to Browns starting tackle Joe Thomas, who got the better of Jason Pierre-Paul in this game, even putting him on his back a few times.
For the fifth game in a row, Justin Tuck did not record a sack, which is beginning to be a problem because he's supposed to be a premier pass rusher. Though Tuck is getting pressure, you have to wonder when he will get that first sack.
For a unit that is normally a strength of the team, the Giants defensive line has not been its usual dominant self through the first five weeks of the season.
That has to change real soon.
Rueben Randle Was Finally Able to Contribute
Earlier in the week, I had talked about how Rueben Randle needed to step up in place of Ramses Barden, who was out with a concussion.
After having just one catch for four yards, Randle was finally able to make a positive impact for the Giants against the Browns, catching six balls for 82 yards, with a long of 36 yards.
While it wasn't a breakout performance, it was still a step in the right direction for the rookie from LSU. It showed Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning that Randle can be a dependable target.
Randle did drop a catchable pass in the game, but that was really his only mistake. Otherwise, he had a solid performance for the Giants.
Hopefully for them, he can have many more.
Victor Cruz Was a Touchdown Machine
On Sunday, it seemed like every time Victor Cruz touched the football, it was going for six.
Cruz only had five catches for 50 yards—numbers that don't jump out at you.
However, Cruz had three touchdown catches against the Browns and was the red-zone go-to guy for Eli Manning.
Cruz had touchdown catches of three yards, seven yards and 28 yards, giving him five TD receptions on the year.
In 2011, he had nine total, and he's already more than halfway to that number, which means we could see Cruz hit double digits in the touchdown department in 2012.
With Hakeem Nicks out the past three weeks, Cruz has been the primary playmaker on among Giant receivers, and he's also been the most dependable wideout, as well.
Ahmad Bradshaw Had the Best Game of His Career
Lately, we have all talked about Andre Brown and his contributions to the running game.
Against Cleveland, Brown sustained a first-half concussion and exited the game, leaving the running duties to Ahmad Bradshaw.
Bradshaw did not disappoint one bit.
After coughing up the ball on the opening drive, Bradshaw got down to business and simply tore up the Cleveland defense with a number of power runs. He had 30 carries for 200 yards and a touchdown plus four catches for 29 yards. The opening-drive fumble became a distant memory.
Bradshaw also catches the ball well out of the backfield and showed on Sunday why he is a crucial part of the Giants offense.
With this performance, I'd have to say this may have been the best game of Bradshaw's career.
David Wilson's Speed Is Amazing
In the fourth quarter, after Ahmad Bradshaw had been dominating the Browns defense all game, the Giants decided to put in David Wilson and give Bradshaw a rest.
All it took was one play for the Giants to remind them why they drafted him with their first-round pick in the 2012 draft.
On his first carry of the game...he was gone.
In the fourth quarter, Wilson broke through a hole and and ran untouched for a 40-yard score—his first ever NFL rushing touchdown—to blow the game open.
His speed is amazing, and if Andre Brown's concussion lingers into Week 6 or beyond, Wilson may get more opportunities to show off his blazing speed.
Wilson didn't have any major kick returns like he did last week against the Eagles, but he finally showed just how important he can be on the field in running situations.
Eli Manning Doesn't Get Rattled When the Team Is Trailing
When people try to doubt why Eli Manning is an elite quarterback, they should look back at the tape of this game.
The Giants were down 14-0 at one point in this game, and it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the home team.
But did Eli Manning panic? Nope, not for one second. Manning just kept playing like his usual self, repeatedly marching the Giants into scoring position.
For the game, Manning took the Giants on five touchdown drives and two field-goal opportunities. After trailing 17-7 in the second quarter, the Manning-led offense scored 27 unanswered points.
Manning was able to get the ball to seven different receivers on Sunday despite being without two of his receivers, Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden. Yet, he still had another 300-yard passing game.
His offensive line gave him time to throw the football and find his receivers downfield, especially Victor Cruz who hauled in three of Manning's passes for touchdowns.
Manning doesn't get scared when his team is down or trailing. I think he thrives in those situations, knowing that he can put the team on his shoulders and lead them.
His brother did it for so many years and now he's earned the reputation as a clutch quarterback.
Sunday's game was just more ammunition for those who believe that Manning is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.