The Associated Press
SANTA CLARA, Calif.–Eli Manning showed he still has what it takes to lead the kind of game-winning drive that earned him two Super Bowl MVP awards.
Manning capped a 75-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with 53 seconds left as the N.Y. Giants snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 last night.
“It doesn’t get old,” said Manning, whose 36 game-winning drives are the third-most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2004.
“It’s fun. It’s fun playing in those games and having a two-minute drive to win it,” he added.
“Those are the situations you want to be in. You want to have a chance.”
The Giants (2-7) have failed to capitalize on those late-game situations this season, losing five games by seven or fewer points as part of a disappointing stretch that has put the 37-year-old Manning’s status as starting quarterback in question.
But Manning delivered against the 49ers to give New York a much-needed win.
“That’s what Eli is really good at, engineering those come-from-behind drives,” said Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur.
“That was terrific,” he added. “He hung in there and made some really good throws, and got us into the end zone.
“That’s the sign of a good quarterback.”
Manning threw two TD passes to Odell Beckham Jr., then engineered the late game-winning drive with help from a pair of third-down penalties against Malcolm Smith and Ahkello Witherspoon.
Saquon Barkley then had a 23-yard catch to get the ball into the red zone before Manning connected with Shepard on third down to give the Giants the win.
“I just saw man-to-man coverage,” Shepard said. “That’s something we’ve been practising.
“I was able to capture the outside edge and Eli put the ball in a perfect place.”
Matt Breida ran for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns for the 49ers (2-8), who were unable to win consecutive games under third-string quarterback Nick Mullens.
Breida’s 23-yard run helped set up a 30-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that gave the Niners a 23-20 lead with 2:46 to play.
But the 49ers allowed the go-ahead score and couldn’t pull it out at the end as Mullens’ pass from the Giants’ 21 sailed out of the end zone on the final play.
“Those are the plays you have to make to finish the game,” Mullens stressed. “That was a moment of truth and I didn’t get the job done.
“I have to play better in those moments of truth,” he added. “We all have to play better.”
Mullens wasn’t nearly as sharp as he was in his NFL debut against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 1 when he joined Hall-of-Famers Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton as the only players with at least 250 yards passing, three touchdown passes, and no interceptions in their first career game.
Mullens threw for 250 yards and had an 11-yard TD pass to Breida that made it 20-10 early in the third quarter.
But Mullens also threw two interceptions, with the first setting up a 10-yard TD pass from Manning to Beckham .
Those two connected again on a 20-yard score in the third quarter as New York rallied from 10 points down to tie the game in the second half.