DETROIT (AP) — Eli Manning wanted another chance at a first down — and coach Tom Coughlin figured this game had gone on long enough.
The New York Giants were either going to convert on fourth-and-7 — and probably win — or they were going to give Detroit good field position in overtime.
"We decided to go for it," Coughlin said. "Guys had played a lot of plays. Let's see if we can make a play to put ourselves in a position to end the game — and we did."
Manning's 15-yard pass to Jerrel Jernigan set up Josh Brown's 45-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 23-20 victory over Detroit on Sunday, eliminating the Lions from playoff contention.
New York won despite being dominated for most of the second half — the Giants were able to force overtime when Will Hill tied the game at 20 on an interception return with 4:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Giants (6-9) fumbled the ball away on the first possession of overtime, but they stopped Detroit and then drove 45 yards to set up the winning kick. It was a crushing loss for the Lions (7-8) and a gratifying victory for a New York team that has won six of nine since an 0-6 start.
"Good character, tough kids," Coughlin said. "Taken a lot of shots this year — quite frankly, have earned the criticism, I don't think there's any doubt about that.
"But we've been able to stay focused and we've been able to touch on some real deep values that get overlooked when people are telling you you've got nothing to play for. You've got everything in the world to play for."
That's not to say the Giants played all that well. They led 13-3 at halftime, then went almost the entire second half without a first down.
But Hill's 38-yard interception return tied the game, and although Manning was intercepted in the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Giants were able to win in overtime.
Andre Brown's fumble in Detroit territory on the opening possession in overtime gave the Lions a chance to win it, but they couldn't move the ball and had to punt.
Manning threw a 26-yard pass to Rueben Randle on third-and-9. Moments later, New York went for it on fourth-and-7 from the Detroit 42.
After Manning connected with Jernigan for a first down, the Giants made sure the catch wouldn't be reviewed by rushing to get the next play off. It ended up being a 2-yard run by Bear Pascoe — the first rushing attempt of the tight end's career.
"Jernigan went down and made a great catch," Manning said. "Or, I think — I don't know. I guess he made a catch. They called it a catch."