Manning takes Giant step to play-offs

IN A win that evoked their Superbowl triumph from the 2007 season, the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in dramatic fashion on Sunday with a touchdown pass from Eli Manning in the final seconds.

Manning’s one-yard pass into the corner to Jake Ballard secured a 24-20 road win for the Giants, who trailed by three points with 1:36 remaining when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski with a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Manning completed 20 of 39 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns as the NFC East-leading Giants improved to 6-2 while New England dropped to 5-3 and into a three-way tie with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills for first in the AFC East.

“He just beat probably the best quarterback in the league in his house,” said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.

Manning “I’m just trying to play to the best of my ability, play quarterback, try to win games,” Manning said. “I don’t get involved in trying to rank somebody or compare myself to someone else. I’m trying to win games for the Giants and we got a big win today.”

Mark Sanchez tossed a touchdown to Santonio Holmes while LaDainian Tomlinson and John Conner also found the end zone as the Jets picked up their first road win and handed Buffalo their first home loss.

The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers held off a furious late fightback by the San Diego Chargers to extend their perfect start with a nail-biting 45-38 victory on Sunday.

Leading 45-24 in the final quarter, the Packers were stunned by two quick touchdowns as Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers twice connected with wide receiver Vincent Jackson in a 67-second span. But the Packers held on to become only the third defending Super Bowl champion to start their following season 8-0.

The Indianapolis Colts’ awful season without injured quarterback Peyton Manning continued with a 31-7 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons (5-3). At 0-9 the Colts are the only winless team.

Manning has not practised with the Colts since having neck surgery in September and the team could be without tight ends Dallas Clark and Brody Eldridge as both left Sunday’s game early with injuries.

Houston Texans, without top receiver Andre Johnson for a fifth straight game, showed their running game in a 30-12 win over the Cleveland Browns. Texans running backs Arian Foster (124 yards) and Ben Tate (115 yards) made up for the absence of Johnson, who remains out with a hamstring injury, as both scored touchdowns against a Browns (3-5) defence that struggled to defend the rush.

Houston (6-3) lead the AFC South and coach Gary Kubiak’s team are starting to look like serious post-season contenders.

Tim Tebow earned his second win in three games as a starter for the Denver Broncos (3-5) after completing 10 of 21 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 road win over the Oakland Raiders (4-4).

While the hugely popular quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner as the top US collegiate player put points on the board with his arm, it was his running game that stood out as he ran for 117 yards on 12 carries.

Running back Willis McGahee also helped Denver’s cause with two touchdowns and 163 yards rushing.

New Orleans badly needed a win at home against the Buccs (4-4) and they got one with a solid all-round display.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns while New Orleans (6-3) produced 195 yards on the ground thanks to the running of Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.

The San Francisco 49ers grabbed their sixth straight win to improve to 7-1 with a 19-11 victory over the fading Washington Redskins (3-5).

The Miami Dolphins (1-7) finally picked up their first win of the season on the road at Kansas City with quarterback Matt Moore throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-3 win as the Chiefs (4-4) were unable to score after a first quarter field goal.

Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds to go, lifting the Baltimore Ravens past the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-20.

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James O'Donoghue
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