By ANDREW SELIGMAN
The Associated Press
Sunday, December 2, 2007; 8:21 PM
CHICAGO -- Eli Manning redeemed himself just in time, and the New York Giants dealt the Chicago Bears' playoff hopes another staggering blow.
Manning led two late touchdown drives and Reuben Droughns scored on a 2-yard run with 1:33 remaining to lift the Giants to a 21-16 victory over the Bears on Sunday.
Manning was awful for most of the game but delivered in the latter stages after throwing four interceptions the previous week in a drubbing by Minnesota.
The embattled quarterback threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer, which was initially ruled incomplete, with 6:54 left to cap a 75-yard drive and pull the Giants within 16-14.
After the Bears (5-7) punted, the Giants launched a 77-yard drive that ended with Droughns running around right end with 1:33 left. Manning hit David Tyree with a 24-yard pass and threw a 15-yarder to Plaxico Burress that put the ball on the 2.
The Bears got the ball with 1:28 remaining and marched from their 41 to the Giants 28, before Rex Grossman threw three incompletions _ the last one broken up by James Butler.
It was a brutal loss for the defending NFC champions, who looked about to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
And it was a rough outing overall for Manning, despite those late heroics. He was 16-for-27 with 195 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble, dousing several scoring threats by the Giants (8-4) or putting Chicago in good position. He got intercepted on the game's opening possession by Brian Urlacher, leading to a touchdown, and he fumbled the ball away deep in Chicago territory in the second quarter. That led to a field goal by Robbie Gould.
Manning's problems continued in the third period. Trailing 16-7, the Giants drove to the 1, only to see him give it away again. He spun and avoided a sack by Alex Brown and lofted a pass to Plaxico Burress in the left corner of the end zone that a leaping Charles Tillman intercepted.
The crowd erupted, but the Giants celebrated in the end.
Derrick Ward ran for 154 yards and touchdown on 24 carries for New York, but injured an ankle.
Although he got sacked six times, the Grossman was solid. He completed 25 of 46 passes for a season-high 296 yards and did not throw an interception.
After losing Cedric Benson to a season-ending left ankle injury last week, the Bears turned to Adrian Peterson and he ran for 67 yards while catching seven passes for 82. Peterson had been used primarily on third downs this season, after spending most of his five years on special teams.
As expected, the Giants did all they could to avoid Devin Hester and limited him to just three punt returns and one kickoff return for a total of 35 yards.