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(Saturday, December 24th)
Final Score: NY Giants 29, NY Jets 14
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Victor Cruz had a 99-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for two scores in the second half, helping the Giants hold off the Jets, 29-14, and stay in contention for the NFC East title.
The Giants (8-7), who are tied with the Cowboys atop the division, will host Dallas next Sunday night in a winner-take-all scenario for the NFC East crown. The Giants rallied to win the first meeting between the teams, 37-34, at Cowboys Stadium on December 11.
Eli Manning completed only 9-of-27 throws, and most of his 225 passing yards were recorded during Cruz's long run. But the Giants' defense was superb in holding off Mark Sanchez and the Jets in the fourth quarter.
While Sanchez did score a touchdown midway through the period to pull the Jets within six points, the Giants did give him plenty of trouble. They picked him off once, recovered a fumble and sacked him in the end zone for a safety.
Bradshaw's second touchdown punctuated the victory.
Cruz finished with three catches for 164 yards, enough to give him the franchise record for receiving yards in a single season. He increased his total to 1,358, eclipsing Amani Toomer's mark of 1,343 in 2002.
Sanchez threw for 258 yards and a touchdown, but completed only 30-of-59 passes and was intercepted twice. They were costly turnovers for an 8-7 Jets team tied with several others a game behind Cincinnati for the AFC's second wild card spot. The Jets need to win next week at Miami and get help from other teams to make the postseason.
The Jets held numerous advantages in Saturday's game -- including time of possession (36:06) and first downs (22, to the Giants' 11). But turnovers haunted them, especially in the second half.
The Giants held a 10-7 lead at the break and the score remained that way through most of the third quarter, which featured seven consecutive punts until Bradshaw scored on a 14-yard run with 13 seconds left.
That run came after Manning found Cruz for a 36-yard gain and Brandon Jacobs ran for 28 yards.
The Giants increased their lead after Kenny Phillips intercepted Sanchez on the first play of the fourth quarter, though they didn't take full advantage of the situation. The turnover set the Giants up at the Jets' 14, but they lost four yards before Lawrence Tynes kicked a 36-yard field goal.
The kick put the Giants ahead 20-7 and kept the Jets within two scores, but the Jets' offense malfunctioned throughout the final quarter.
The drive following Tynes' field goal lasted 13 plays and featured a defensive pass interference penalty that converted a fourth down, a touchdown nullified because of pass interference by Jets receiver Plaxico Burress, and a challenge reversing a Sanchez fumble.
However, the possession ended at the Giants' one-yard line, where Sanchez fumbled the ball on 3rd-and-goal. Linebacker Jacquian Williams recovered in the end zone, though the Jets got the ball right back after Manning's pass to Hakeem Nicks was picked off by David Harris.
"We think we're throwing a pretty safe pass with a slant route and [cornerback Darrelle Revis] did a good job of getting in there and hooking Hakeem. The ball gets tipped up and intercepted," Manning said. "You throw it low and in front and you think it's a pretty safe pass. You think it was going to fall incomplete. You don't expect it to be intercepted."
The turnover put the ball at the Giants' 11, but again the Jets had trouble moving the ball. They lost 10 yards on the first play because of a holding penalty, and on the next play Sanchez fumbled as he was being sacked. But another successful challenge turned the play into an incomplete pass.
The Jets still faced a 2nd-and-20 after the play, but Sanchez completed an eight-yard pass before running for 11. A Giants holding penalty on the play gave the Jets a first down at the one, and Sanchez reached the end zone on the next play to make it a 20-14 game with 7:17 left.
But the Jets didn't get any closer, and imploded in the final 2:24, when they got the ball at their own eight.
Defensive end Chris Canty sacked Sanchez in the end zone for a safety on the first play of the possession, and the Giants assumed possession at the Jets' 19 after an unsuccessful onside kick.
Bradshaw then ran into the end zone, the last of three plays that secured the win for the Giants.
Sanchez's five-yard TD pass to Josh Baker gave the Jets the lead just more than seven minutes into the game, but Tynes kicked a 21-yarder shortly into the second quarter, and Cruz put the Giants ahead later in the half.
They faced a 3rd-and-10 at their own one-yard line, forcing Manning to take a shotgun snap in the end zone. But Manning found Cruz on the right side of the field, and the elusive receiver turned it into a touchdown.
After making the catch, he stopped his motion, ducked away from a tackle and started sprinting down the right sideline. He then leapt away from an ankle tackle to gain a clear path to the end zone, and scored with 2:12 remaining.
"They had 80 yards up until that point, if that," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "We had it in control. He threw it into double coverage and we missed a couple of tackles. The young man did a great job."
Dustin Keller led the Jets with eight catches for 77 yards...Jets running back Shonn Greene recorded a game-high 58 rushing yards...The Giants gained 332 yards, compared to 331 for the Jets.
12/24 20:28:21 ET