EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. So much for that tired arm for Eli Manning, and that offensive slump for the New York Giants. They got it fixed in their bye week, then routed the Green Bay Packers 38-10 Sunday night.
The Packers certainly can attest to New York's turnaround following a week off. The showcase game was decided early as the Giants outscored the Packers 31-10 in the opening half and cruised. Manning reached 200 career TD passes by throwing for three scores as New York (7-4) snapped a two-game slide, ended Green Bay's five-game winning streak, and opened a two-game lead in the NFC East.
The Packers (7-4) were missing such key starters as linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive back Charles Woodson and receiver Greg Jennings, and it showed as they fell one game behind NFC North leader Chicago. After being manhandled in last season's playoffs by the Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl, the Packers weren't much more competitive this time. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times, including twice by Mathias Kiwanuka, who spent much of the game at defensive tackle rather than in his usual linebacker spot.
New York's balanced attack was guided by Manning, who had his first strong game in a month with 249 yards passing, and Ahmad Bradshaw, who gained a combined 119 yards and scored a touchdown. He had the first big play of the night to begin the offensive onslaught.
CBSSports.com's Clark Judge says the Giants have re-established themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
"That's the second time in 11 months the Giants shredded one of the NFC's premier clubs," Judge writes. "But don't stop there. They've beaten San Francisco twice in the past 11 months, too, including a 26-3 hammering last month -- and both games were at Candlestick Park. They also destroyed Atlanta in the playoffs last season, and connect the dots, people. That's five consecutive victories against the NFC's best and brightest by a combined score of 145-52 ... and that should get someone's attention."
- CBSSports.com's Clark Judge: Giants serve notice to rest of league
- CBSSports.com: Complete NFL coverage
Elsewhere in the NFL:
Matt Ryan threw for 353 yards and overcame two big turnovers by leading another late touchdown drive to give the Atlanta Falcons a 24-23 victory over Tampa Bay in the NFL on Sunday.
The win enabled the Falcons (10-1) to keep pace with Houston for the NFL's best record.
Ryan connected with Julio Jones on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, but the Buccaneers took a 23-17 lead in the fourth after scoring a touchdown, then forcing a fumble by Ryan to set up a field goal.
Michael Turner's 1-yard TD run put Atlanta ahead for good with 7:55 left. Connor Barth missed a 56-yard goal for Tampa Bay (6-5) in the closing minutes, ending the Bucs' four-game winning streak.
Turner also scored a fourth-quarter touchdown that helped the Falcons overcome mistakes to beat Arizona 23-19 last week.
The San Francisco 49ers ended the Saints' three-game winning streak with a 31-21 victory in New Orleans.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran for a 7-yard touchdown and threw for another one in his second career start for the 49ers (8-2-1) as former starter Alex Smith watched from the sidelines.
Smith had been deemed healthy enough to play after recovering from a concussion, but San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh decided to start Kaepernick after his impressive play in last week's victory over the Bears.
The Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings 28-10 to take sole possession of first place in the NFC North division.
Jay Cutler threw for 188 yards and a touchdown after missing a game because of a concussion as Chicago ended a two-game losing streak.
The Bears (8-3) were tied with Green Bay for the NFC North lead and just a game ahead of Minnesota (6-5) coming into the game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers committed eight turnovers to lose to the Cleveland Browns for just the second time in 18 games, 20-14, and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Thirty-seven-year-old Charlie Batch, starting in place of injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, was picked off three times and the Steelers (6-5) lost five fumbles, the last on the final play of the game.
Pittsburgh is now level with Cincinnati in second place in the American Football Conference North division after the Bengals handily defeated the Oakland Raiders 34-10.
Cincinnati's Andy Dalton had three TD passes in his first game against former Bengals quarterback, Carson Palmer, who was traded to Oakland in the middle of last season.
Peyton Manning threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns as the Denver Broncos beat the woeful Kansas City Chiefs 17-9 for their sixth straight win, while the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Diego Chargers in overtime 16-13 after rallying from 10 points down with just over seven minutes to play.
In other games, Sam Bradford had a pair of 37-yard touchdown passes in the St. Louis Rams 31-17 victory over the reeling Arizona Cardinals, and Ryan Tannehill led a 65-yard drive in the final 90 seconds to set up the winning field goal kick in the Miami Dolphins' 24-21 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Indianapolis Colts also beat the Buffalo Bills 20-13, while the Jacksonville Jaguars ended a seven-game losing streak with a 24-19 win over the Tennessee Titans.