EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Robert Griffin III may have been the talk of the town but it was the New York Giants' Victor Cruz who left fans speechless.
The Washington Redskins' much buzzed about rookie quarterback RG III came to the New York metropolitan area and did not disappoint in putting on a show.
He ran. He threw. He dodged New York Giants' defenders with breakaway speed and left many shaking their heads and bemoaning another meeting down the road.
But the defending Super Bowl champions proved to be difficult to defeat as the rookie sensation Griffin had a couple of costly turnovers that gave the Giants and Eli Manning more than enough time to pull off another fourth-quarter comeback.
Manning one-upped RGIII with a pinpoint 77-yard scoring pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play, and the Giants overcame a late touchdown toss by Griffin to defeat the Washington Redskins 27-23 on Sunday.
"He has done it so many times," veteran Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said after Manning delivered his eighth fourth-quarter winning drive in less than two seasons.
"He has really bridged his performance in the 2011 season to the 2012 season. It's just more of the same. He continues to get better. He is probably the most deadly quarterback in the fourth quarter."
Manning's pass to Cruz was the longest game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes in the history of the franchise, which dates to 1925. It came two plays and 19 seconds after Griffin capped what was a potential winning, 77-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown toss to Santana Moss.
No matter what situation we're in, no matter how many points we need or a field goal we need, we have the confidence we can do it. We have a lot of confidence in each other...
- Victor Cruz
The rookie had kept the drive alive with a 19-yard pass off a desperate scramble on a fourth-and-10 play deep in his own territory, and a 24-yard run on the next play.
But Manning made one more play in keeping the Giants (5-2) in first place in the NFC East.
"With our offense and Eli at the helm, we're never too worried," said Cruz, who had seven catches for 131 yards. "No matter what situation we're in, no matter how many points we need or a field goal we need, we have the confidence we can do it. We have a lot of confidence in each other, and in Eli."
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan agreed even though he was miffed that defensive backs Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams allowed Cruz to blow by them on the seam pattern.
"He sure proved it today," Shanahan said after his team (3-4) blew a chance to move into a first-place tie. "It was a great throw. He was double-covered, but (Manning) put it right on the money."
Manning, who finished 26 of 40 for 337 yards, had to make the throw a little sooner than he wanted.
"I kind of threw it high and deep and saw the coverage and was hoping Victor saw it the same way I did," he said. "I didn't see the ball get caught. I heard the cheer and that was a good sign. I got up in time to see him run into the end zone."
Manning triumphantly pumped his fist once after the play as the more than 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium erupted with cheers.
"He did a good job leading his team to victory today," said Griffin, who ran for 89 yards and passed for 258 and two touchdowns. "When the game is on the line, you want the ball in your hand, no doubt about it. He made the play to win it."
Griffin had the Redskins moving when Moss was tackled by Chase Blackburn and fumbled after an 11-yard reception. Rookie Jayron Hosley recovered at the Washington 43.
"There's no excuse for them, but with all that stuff, we had a chance to win at the end," Griffin said.
The wild finish capped a game in which both quarterbacks also made major mistakes.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown scored on 1-yard runs and Lawrence Tynes kicked a pair of field goals for the Giants, who won despite giving up 480 yards in total offense.
Griffin was 20 of 28 with Moss catching both his TD passes. Fellow rookie Alfred Morris gained 120 yards rushing.
The Giants had 396 yards in total offense, with the biggest chunk coming on Manning's pass to Mr. Salsa.
Before the wild finish, the second half was dominated by turnovers.
Griffin was picked off by safety Stevie Brown and his 41-yard return late in the third quarter set up Bradshaw's 1-yard plow-job into the end zone, a play which was reviewed.
Griffin moved Washington into position to tie the game on the next possession, but he fumbled after being sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph recovered at the Giants 29.
On the next play from scrimmage, linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted a quick out by Manning and Forbath kicked a 45-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 20-16 with 5:21 to go.
The Giants were forced to punt on their next series and Washington got the ball back at its 23. After gaining nothing in three plays, Griffin went back to pass on fourth down, eluded Pierre-Paul and then danced around long enough to find tight end Logan Paulsen for a 19-yard gain and a first down at the 42. The 24-yard scamper got the ball to the New York 34 and two plays later Moss beat Hosley and hauled in Griffin's perfect pass as Griffin lay on his back and celebrated like a snow angel.
"He's tough," Blackburn said of Griffin. We played well for three downs got them into a fourth and 10, and had him. JPP had him dead to rights. Any other quarterback and he makes that sack."
Manning and Cruz spoiled the afternoon seconds later.
"I'm pretty mad at the football gods for putting him in the NFC East," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "To face that guy twice a year is going to be a headache."
There were seven offensive possessions in the first half that resulted in 439 total yards, six scores and a 13-13 tie.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.