EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A couple of comeback kids helped the New York Giants continue their winning streak.
Terrell Thomas returned an interception 65 yards to set up a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run by Andre Brown, and the New York Giants won their third straight game, 24-20 Sunday over Oakland.
It was appropriate that Thomas and Brown combined to maintain the Giants’ hopes of overcoming an 0-6 start. Thomas missed the past two seasons with major knee injuries.
Brown missed the first eight games this season after breaking his left leg in the last preseason game for the second time in nine months.
“When I scored off his interception return, I went back over there and I said: ‘Good job’” said Brown, who ran for 115 yards on 30 carries.
“He’s another guy that showed perseverance. He knows how to deal with adversity. Guys like that, you feed off of. I want to make sure I’m a guy that they can feed off me.”
The error-prone Giants (3-6) did. They also fed off their defense, which limited a banged up Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders to 213 yards in total offense.
Even more importantly they forced Oakland (3-6) to settle for a field goal on the opening possession of the second half after getting a first-and-goal at the 1.
Instead of a 24-14 lead, the margin was 20-14.
“That was huge,” middle linebacker Jon Beason said. “Anytime you can go out there with your backs against the wall, it’s a good thing.”
Thomas’ interception was even bigger, and it turned the momentum a final time.
After a three-and-out by New York, Oakland got the ball back at the New York 48 following a 27-yard punt by Steve Weatherford into a stiff breeze. On a third-and-9 from the 33, Pryor tried to hit Denarius Moore on a slant.
Thomas, who was the NFC defensive player of the week two weeks ago, was waiting in the slant route.
“It was a route they have run a lot and I was waiting on it the whole game,” Thomas said. “They run two-by-two slants and coach put us in a great position and I was happy to make a play for the defense.”
Thomas ran toward the gaping end zone, avoiding a tackle by Pryor inside the 20 before being tackled by Andre Holmes.
The ball came loose, and officials said Thomas was down.
Brown gave the Giants the lead from the 1-yard line following a pass interference call, taking time to kneel in the end zone and stretch his hands to the sky.
“It’s great to have ‘Dre back,” Thomas said. “To run for 100 yards after sitting out and missing eight games and to come back in the fashion he did, and run like he did, it’s very refreshing for our team. It was great to see him return to his old self. I wish I would have scored but it was great to see him get in.”
Despite throwing another pick-6, Eli Manning threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle, and Cooper Taylor scored on a 21-yard return with a blocked punt. Josh Brown added a field goal.
Pryor scored on a 1-yard run and Tracy Porter on a 43-yard interception return for Oakland. Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals.
“We just to go back to work and stick with each other,” said Pryor, who was 11 of 26 for 122 yards playing with a sore hamstring. “A lot of fingers can be pointed at me. That’s all right, I understand that. The next time we get in this situation we have to know how to react.”
Coming off a 49-20 loss to the Eagles, the Raiders were in a position to win this game. Porter’s interception return put them ahead 17-14 at the half and Janikowski’s 24-yard field goal that capped an eight-minute drive stretched the lead to 20-14.
But Thomas and Brown stepped in to save New York.
Josh Brown added a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and New York clinched the game when Mathias Kiwanuka had a sack-forced fumble on Oakland’s final possession.
Pryor scored from 1 yard on the second play from scrimmage after a fumble by Jerrel Jernigan on the opening kickoff.
New York, which had given up special teams touchdowns in the two previous games got one back. Damontre Moore blocked Marquette King’s punt and Taylor scored.
Oakland took a 10-7 lead on a 33-yard field goal by Janikowski. A fumble by running back Peyton Hillis on a short pass set up the score.
Manning got the Giants going in the second quarter with a TD pass to Randle. However, Manning’s third pick-6 of the season allowed Porter to skip into the end zone.
NOTES: The previous time the Giants returned a blocked punt for a TD was by Tom Flynn in 1988. …Weatherford had a miserable day, averaging 30.4 yards on four punts. Linebacker Sio Moore had nine tackles and a sack to lead Oakland. Safety Antrel Rolle had a game-high 12 tackles and a sack, one of four by New York.