Bizarre Call Hands Giants 31-27 Win Over Cardinals

A fumble is overturned and the Giants escape with a win

Someone up there likes the Giants.

On a play when it appeared Victor Cruz handed away the game by simply letting the ball roll out of his grasp while the Giants were driving in an attempt to score a go-ahead touchdown, the referees intervened to hand the Giants a win.

The referee, to the bewilderment of anyone watching the game, ruled that Cruz gave himself up on the play when it was pretty clear that he had merely stumbled while running toward the end zone.

Cruz, on the ground without being touched, rolled the ball out, and the Cardinals quite reasonably thought that they had recovered a fumble and iced the game. But according to the ref, his dubious call was not able to be reviewed, and the Giants retained possession.

Hakeem Nicks scored on a touchdown pass from Eli Manning against a shell-shocked Cardinals defense on the next play, and the Giants held on to snatch a 31-27 victory they did not deserve. They'll take it, as well they should, but the game's ending is a serious black mark on the NFL.

Arizona gave the Giants everything they needed to win the game -— two turnovers, 11 penalties and an offensive line that couldn't protect Kevin Kolb on top of a clearly superior Giants roster — and yet the Giants still would have walked away as losers if not for the botched call at the end. Pardon us for saying that it is hard to believe in a team that wins games like that, and if that makes Brandon Jacobs mad, that's just too bad.

The Giants defense was powerless to stop Beanie Wells, who racked up 127 yards and three second-half touchdowns in the kind of performance that reminded you why he was a first-round pick coming out of Ohio State. Wells ran over and around defenders whose tackling and execution left much to be desired.

Offensively, the Giants couldn't get anything going in the running game, which put a lot of pressure on Eli Manning to make plays down the field if the Giants were going to stay alive. He made plenty of them, finishing with 321 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns, but the old turnover bug popped up again and almost sank any chance the Giants had to win the game.

With 3:42 to play in the third quarter, Manning allowed himself to be stripped of the ball on a sack by David Carter, and the Cardinals recovered on the five to set up Wells' second touchdown of the quarter. Carter beat reserve center Kevin Boothe, playing in place of David Baas, badly on the play, but Manning showed very little sense of the situation by leaving the ball in a spot where Carter could easily knock it free. 

Ahmad Bradshaw also had a case of the fumbles in the first half, letting a ball go free after a catch that the Cardinals recovered to set up a short field goal. The Giants didn't score any points off of either Cardinals turnover, a difference that tells you why they were scrambling to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter against a bad Cardinals team.

Regardless of the circumstances, the win counts, and the Giants are now 3-1 and a half-game back of the Redskins for first place in the NFC East. That's the part that will linger long after you forget that the Cardinals had this one stolen out from under them.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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