N.Y. Giants 21, Cincinnati 20
When: 8:30 PM ET, Monday, November 14, 2016
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner to receiver Sterling Shepard at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as the Giants topped the Cincinnati Bengals 21-20 at MetLife Stadium on Monday night.
New York held a 14-10 halftime lead, but following the Giants' extended halftime ceremony honoring their new Ring of Honor inductees, the Bengals immediately squelched the feel-good buzz around the stadium on the second-half kickoff. Alex Erickson broke free for an 84-yard kickoff return to give the Bengals first-and-10 on the Giants 13.
Two plays later, both runs by running back Jeremy Hill, the Bengals were back on top of the Giants 17-14 thanks to Hill's 9-yard touchdown run, the first of 10 unanswered points by the Bengals.
After the Giants went three-and-out, Erickson did it again, this time with an 18-yard punt return that gave his team excellent starting field position.
As the Bengals continued to sprinkle in pre-snap movement that seemed to confuse the Giants defense, particularly on a 21-yard pass to A.J. Green, the Bengals increased their lead to 20-14 on kicker Mike Nugent's second field goal of the game, this one from 38 yards out.
The Giants finally got on the board again with 14:05 left in the fourth quarter when Manning connected with Shepard for a 3-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. That score put the Giants back on top 21-20.
Shepard, who earlier in the game dropped a third-down pass play when he tried to make a move up field before securing the ball, said he was glad to be able to make up for his botched play earlier with what turned out to be the game winner.
"I knew I had a possibility (to make the play)," he said. "I wasn't the first read on that one, but I knew it was possible that I would get it. I had to get it back because I dropped a pass on third down."
That head coach Ben McAdoo made the decision to trust his offense, which at times has struggled to convert first downs, let alone score, to get it done on what turned out to be such a critical drive spoke volumes about the confidence he had in his players, who rewarded his faith.
"You feel confident that your coach trusts you to get it done," added offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse, who flipped back and forth between tight end and left guard this week. "You're like, 'Ok, everyone, narrow your focus even more; this is a big, big play.' So that trust in us meant a lot and I'm glad we went out and did it."
After New York took the lead, Landon Collins picked off an Andy Dalton pass intended for tight end Tyler Kroft. It was Collins' third straight game with at least one interception.
The Giants defense, which again got off to a slow start, clamped down on the Bengals offense, holding Green to 7 receptions for 68 yards, stuffing the running game to 78 yards on 23 carries and, perhaps more importantly, limiting the Bengals to just two third-down conversions out of 11 attempts.
The loss by the Bengals, who last week came out of their bye, is just the most recent frustrating ending against an NFC East opponent. Back in Week 8, the Bengals tied Washington in a game played in London; this week they lost a chance to make up some ground in the NFC North when their effort against the Giants fell short by one point.
"Offensively we didn't do a very good job," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis about his team's showing on third down. "We didn't get enough on third down and it makes a huge difference."
"We gotta find a way to flip the switch and make these games turn into wins," said Dalton. "We've got to look at what we're doing and correct the things that are hurting us."
With the win, the Giants (6-3) retain their hold on second place in the NFC East. They'll close out their three-game home stand next week against the Chicago Bears.
The Bengals (3-5-1) return home to host the Buffalo Bills next week.
The Giants went into halftime with a four-point lead, thanks to Odell Beckham Jr.'s 10-yard touchdown catch with 1:17 left in the first half.
Beckham, who earlier in the game became the fastest receiver to reach 3,500 yards, doing so in 36 games, beat Bengals cornerback Adam Jones for the score that put his team back in the lead.
The Giants got on the board first when Manning connected with rookie tight end Jerell Adams on a 10-yard scoring pass to give New York the 7-0 lead.
The Bengals answered with a touchdown drive of their own, a drive in which Dalton and company ran an unbalanced line that caught the Giants out of position and enabled tight end Tyler Eifert to haul in a 71-yard reception to give Cincinnati a first-and-goal on the Giants' 8-yard line. Dalton then connected with Green for a 13-yard touchdown reception to even the score at 7-7.
The Bengals temporarily took a 10-7 lead on Nugent's 25-yard field goal in the second quarter, a score that was set up by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick's second interception of the season on a pass by Manning pass intended for receiver Roger Lewis Jr.
The Giants inducted three new members -- former general manager Ernie Accorsi, former head coach Tom Coughlin and retired defensive end Justin Tuck -- into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime.
NOTES: Giants QB Eli Manning's touchdown pass to TE Jerell Adams was the quarterback's 30th career touchdown pass thrown on Monday night. ... Bengals TE Tyler Eifert's 71-yard reception on his team's opening drive is a career long. Eifert's previous career long was 61 yards, set in 2013, his first season. ... Giants OL Brett Jones, making his first career start in place of Justin Pugh at left guard, suffered a calf strain on the Giants' opening drive. He was replaced by Marshall Newhouse at left guard.
Top Game Performances
Team Stats Summary
N.Y. Giants will play their next game at home against Chicago. The Giants have a W/L % of .833 after a win and .333 after a loss.
Cincinnati will play their next game at home against Buffalo. The Bengals have a W/L % of .000 after a win and .600 after a loss.