Manning hits Cruz control for win
Giants' quarterback finds his receiver in the dying seconds of the game to pip the Redskins
The emotions inside MetLife Stadium were extremely high when the football left Eli Manning's right hand.
With 83 seconds remaining and the outcome of a "must-win game" hanging in the balance, Mathias Kiwanuka prayed Victor Cruz had enough speed to run under it.
Jayron Hosley hoped for redemption, considering he had been beaten by Santana Moss and a spectacular Robert Griffin III throw for a go-ahead score moments earlier.
Cruz had blown past the two defenders assigned to cover him and sensed victory would be coming the Giants' way as long as he made the catch.
Meanwhile, Manning - the player ultimately responsible for making the whole thing happen - saw none of that. He was on the ground, having been knocked down by Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen, and did not get to watch Cruz finish off their 77-yard connection until replays of the decisive touchdown in the 27-23 triumph over the Redskins were shown on the scoreboard.
"I didn't see the ball get caught," Manning said. "I just kind of heard the cheers and thought that's probably a good sign. I got up in time to see [Cruz] running into the end zone, so it was a good feeling."
Try exhilarating for Cruz and the Giants, not to mention a crowd of 81,352.
Cruz split the double-team on a seam route and sprinted into the middle of the field before ultimately saving the Giants from falling to 0-3 in the NFC East.
The Giants (5-2) managed to stay in first place atop the standings after their first divisional win of the season heading into this week's showdown in Dallas, while the Redskins dropped to 3-4.
"We clicked at the right time," said Cruz, who has a touchdown reception in four straight games, the longest streak by a Giants player since Hakeem Nicks accomplished the feat in 2009. "We read the coverage the same way."
Griffin was outstanding, keeping the Giants' defence on their heels for much of the day before Chase Blackburn forced a Moss fumble on the Redskins' final drive to end Washington's comeback effort. Hosley recovered to seal the win.
On the previous drive, Griffin's scoring strike to Moss from 30 yards out silenced the stadium with 1:32 left, providing the Redskins with a 23-20 lead.
That left too much time on the clock for Manning, who responded from an otherwise shaky performance with yet another thrilling comeback.
Manning finished 26-of-40 for 337 yards - just his second career 300-yard game against Washington - with one touchdown and two interceptions.
It was the 24th time in Manning's career - including play-offs and his two Super Bowls - in which he led the Giants back from a deficit in the fourth quarter to win.
Manning was on the verge of his third straight game without a touchdown pass against the Redskins. Last season, he threw four interceptions in two defeats and this time, he threw two more picks before the winning score.
"We have the best quarterback in the league," linebacker Michael Boley said. "It's never over."
Cruz had seven catches for 131 yards and the score that turned out to be the longest game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter in franchise history.
"Thank God for Victor Cruz, huh?" Jason Pierre-Paul said.
Rookie running back Alfred Morris rushed 22 times for 120 yards, but he was held to 26 yards in the second half. Griffin completed 20 of 28 passes with two touchdowns and an interception, while rushing nine times for 89 yards.
"I'm disappointed. I'm always disappointed," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, referring to his team's struggles with stopping the run. "But yeah, we won the game. The object is to win: somehow, some way, find a way to win."