Brandon Spikes lands first punch, Jake Ballard bounces back for knock-out blow
|11.07.11 at 1:08 am ET|
FOXBORO — Say this for the Patriots, they tried to knock Jake Ballard out of the game before he single-handedly devastated the Patriots on the game-winning drive.
Spikes made the huge play on 3rd-and-9, stopping the Giants 1 yard shy at the Patriots 46.
“No, I didn’t see it coming,” Ballard said. “He hit me pretty good but I got right up and walked off the field. It was a good hit and it was kind of my fault. He just dropped in zone and I should of cut off [my route]. But it’s football – you get hit hard.”
Spikes was no where to be found though when the Patriots needed him since he left the game with a leg injury in the second half.
Instead, Tracy White was on the field as Eli Manning used Ballard to pick apart the Patriots on the game-winning drive that had the Giants march 80 yards in eight plays, capped off by a Manning-to-Ballard TD strike on third-and-goal with 15 seconds left.
‘The offensive line pinched and I ended up getting off quick and breaking it out because I knew I had to get separation from the linebacker,” Ballard said. “As soon as I turned around, Eli threw it and it was there, I was just concentrating really hard to make sure I caught the ball.’
“I played the run,” White said. “You have to play the run first. He stepped up and got out to the back of the end zone. That was it. It was a good route, a good pass. I didn’t lose him. I had him covered pretty good. It was a good catch and good pass.”
If there is such a thing as a statement win for a 6-2 first-place team like the Giants, this would appear to be it.
‘I think it shows a lot of people we are for real,” Ballard said. “We know we can do it and I think it just gives us the that confidence that we can compete.’
Ballard even provided a David Tyree moment when he went airborne over James Ihedigbo and linebacker White with 45 seconds remaining. The 28-yard strike down the middle to another Giants receiver wearing No. 85 put the Giants in business at the Patriots 33.
White was understandably frustrated.
“Aghhhh, that was a good catch,” White said. “I had covered and he got up over me, I guess. I had him covered. That was a good catch, a good play. That was it. They told me I was going to go in on the two-minute [warning], so I was ready to go in.”
“We were all calm,” Ballard said. “Eli was telling us what to do. It was just like practice.”