Giants Run Wild on Ravens' Defense

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 17, 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Nov. 16 -- The Baltimore Ravens had been finding ways to win with a rookie starter at quarterback and a usually overpowering defense. But nothing worked for them Sunday against the Super Bowl champions, as the New York Giants used a dominant running game to roll to a 30-10 triumph at Giants Stadium.

The Giants kept the rest of the NFC East comfortably in their rearview mirror by extending their winning streak to five games and improving to 9-1. If they keep playing like this, the rest of the division is playing for second place.

"That's a heck of a football team," Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said. "They proved it today. They were better than us today."

The Giants amassed 207 rushing yards against the NFL's top defense against the run. Tailback Brandon Jacobs ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, then was limited to no yards on two second-half carries because of a sore knee.

"He was definitely jacked up," Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie said of Jacobs. "When you go up against a defense that hasn't given up a 100-yard rusher in 28 straight games, that's a tremendous challenge. With the backs we have, we know if we just give them a little crease, they can get some yards."

Ahmad Bradshaw took over for Jacobs and had 94 of his 96 rushing yards in the second half. He set up a fourth-quarter field goal with a 77-yard dash, which by itself was 12 yards longer than the average rushing output per game of Ravens opponents this season when the day began. Derrick Ward added 41 rushing yards for the Giants, who averaged 6.3 yards per carry in the first 200-yard rushing performance against the Ravens since 1997.

The Giants got touchdowns on their first three possessions en route to a 20-0 lead. Quarterback Eli Manning provided a touchdown pass to reserve tight end Darcy Johnson after Jacobs's scoring runs.

The Ravens pulled within 20-10 in the third quarter on quarterback Joe Flacco's touchdown pass to running back Le'Ron McClain. But on the Ravens' next possession Flacco threw an interception on a deflected pass that Giants cornerback Aaron Ross returned 50 yards for a touchdown with 14 seconds left in the third quarter. The Giants weren't threatened again from there in wrapping up their first victory in four tries, including a Super Bowl, against the Ravens.

The Baltimore defense did manage to extend its streak without allowing a 100-yard rushing performance by a single opposing runner to 29 games, mostly because the Giants spread their rushing wealth so well.

Ravens place kicker Matt Stover set an NFL record with his 372nd straight extra point. But that was about the only positive for the 6-4 Ravens, whose four-game winning streak ended. Flacco threw two interceptions in all, both to Ross, before the cornerback exited the game with a strained calf muscle. A sloppy performance by the Ravens included having a field goal blocked and, in one first-half sequence, giving the Giants a first down with back-to-back offside penalties.

The Giants didn't need the help. Their only significant mistakes were a botched extra point and an interception thrown by Manning to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis late in the first half.

Entering the game, the Ravens ranked first in the league in rushing defense and second in total defense. They had given up only one rushing touchdown all season and they hadn't yielded more than 76 rushing yards in any game. But the Giants led the league in rushing offense and ranked fourth in total offense. In the first half alone, they piled up 112 rushing yards.

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