EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A week off, some rest and a poignant plea from a 15-year-old cancer patient got the New York Giants back on track.
Now the rest of the NFL has something to worry about. The Giants are playing like world champions again.
A refreshed Eli Manning came back from the bye week and threw three touchdown passes as the Giants embarrassed Aaron Rodgers and the streaking Green Bay Packers 38-10 on Sunday night.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak and gave the Giants (7-4) a two-game lead in the NFC East with five games left in the regular season. The dominating performance also ended a five-game winning streak for the Packers (7-4), who fell a game behind Chicago in the NFC North.
"We just had to go out there with a lot of confidence and play like we are capable," Giants center David Baas said. "I felt we did that. We showed everybody. People that counted us out, they better wake up."
No one was more pleased with the Giants than Adam Merchant. The 15-year-old fan from Barre, Vt., attended Friday's practice and Sunday's game, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Merchant spoke to the team after practice and seemed to remind them what it's all about.
"I told them to go out and play like world champs," he said, sitting at a locker next to defensive captain Justin Tuck.
When asked why he gave the message, he shot back:
"Because we really needed to go out and play like world champs."
Against the Packers, the Giants did.
Manning, who had not thrown a touchdown in three games, had scoring strikes of 16 yards to rookie Rueben Randle, 9 yards to Victor Cruz and 13 to Hakeem Nicks. The last one gave him 200 for his career, breaking the team record held by Phil Simms.
"The thing I'm most proud of tonight is the way we played and getting a win," said Manning, who was 16 of 30 for 249 yards. "This was a big game, we needed to come out and play well and get a win. We finally got back to playing offense, defense, special teams, all of us playing at a high level, playing as a team, and hopefully we can build off of this momentum."
Everybody seemed to contribute. Ahmad Bradshaw ran 13 yards for a touchdown and went 59-yards with a screen pass to set up Andre Brown's 2-yard TD run on the opening drive.
The defense sacked Rodgers five times and set up 10 points with Corey Webster's pick leading to Lawrence Tynes' field goal and Osi Umenyiora's strip-sack and Jason Pierre-Paul's 10-yard return setting up Bradshaw's TD run that gave New York a 31-10 lead.
The 31 points were the most scored by the Giants in a half this season, and it pretty much decided the game.
The only negative was Brown broke his left leg in the second half and his season looks done.
The Packers were done before that, at as far as this game.
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