EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Rookie David Wilson was given a simple piece of advice by special teams coach Tom Quinn before the New York Giants game against the New Orleans Saints: Run fast.
The first-round draft pick did more than that. He might have provided the spark that gets the defending Super Bowl champions back to the playoffs with several electrifying kickoff returns and big-gainers on handoffs from Eli Manning.
Wilson sprinted 97 yards on a kickoff return for one touchdown, ran for 100 yards and two more scores and piled up a team-record 327 all-purpose yards in a 52-27 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Manning, meanwhile, chipped in with four touchdown passes.
To come up and have a breakout game like this is an excellent feeling, said Wilson, who became the first NFL player to have 200 yards in kickoff returns and 100 yards rushing in a game. You want to have a good game every game. I went out there and my teammates went out there and we played great and put up 50 points.
The performance could not have come in a bigger game. It allowed the Giants (8-5) to maintain their one-game lead in the NFC East over Washington and Dallas, and it finally showed the league the talent that teammates have seen almost every day in practice.
Victor Cruz had eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.
In all but ending the playoff hopes of Drew Brees and the Saints (5-8), the Giants showed they again can be a force in the postseason if they can get there.
Honestly, this is our playoffs, defensive end Justin Tuck said. These are playoff type games. The teams were going to play, the atmosphere were going to play in, this is what it is about. This is the type of football that leads into the playoffs and this is what we need.
Manning had TD passes of 6 yards to Martellus Bennett, 5 yards to Hixon, 25 yards to Hakeem Nicks and 10 yards to Cruz. Wilson scored on runs of 6 and 52 yards and hit 100 yards on only 13 carries for the biggest day of his short career.
Brees threw two interceptions and the team lost two fumbles. Brees, who had never lost to the Giants and had eight TD passes and no interceptions in the past two games, finished 26 of 43 for 354 yards.
Field position was a huge factor in this game, Brees said. It felt like the Giants were starting inside our territory every time and we were starting inside our 20. So, youre saying its 30 yards field position on every possession. You add that up over 10 possessions, thats 300 yards of offense. We equate that to 21 points. Look at the score.