Giants win marred by injury
NFL: The New York Giants' startlingly lopsided 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers last night came at a price. Running back Andre Brown, who was enjoying a breakthrough season and had eight of the team's 14 rushing touchdowns, went down with a broken fibula.
"It's going to be a tough loss," Eli Manning said. "He's an important player for us, obviously." Running back Ahmad Bradshaw said it was difficult to find words to console Brown, who had 73 carries for 385 yards and led the team with 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. Brown was one of the feel-good stories this season after spending last year on the Giants' practice squad. In his first three years before that, he saw time with the Giants, Denver and Indianapolis; his two carries netted a one-yard loss during that span.
"I feel bad for Andre," Bradshaw said. "He's my little brother. It's heartbreaking for me to see him so down."
The Giants, who drafted Brown out of North Carolina State in the fourth round in 2009, taking him 129th overall, had increasingly turned to him in short-yardage situations. That included the opening possession of last night's game, when his two-yard burst off left tackle capped a six-play, 74-yard drive and set the tone against a Packers team that had won five consecutive games.
Brown went on to pace a revived ground attack that churned out 147 yards by carrying 13 times for 64 yards. He left the game for good after ripping off a 16-yard gain with 10:55 minutes remaining as the Giants, in command by what would be the final score, killed the clock. Coach Tom Coughlin did not offer an update on Brown's injury or a timetable for his recovery.
Brown's loss will place a greater burden on Bradshaw, who has been forced to miss significant practice time with a recurrence of foot problems that have troubled him through much of his six-year career. Bradshaw appeared to greatly benefit from the bye week that led into the Green Bay game. He hit holes quickly and with authority in finishing with 10 rushes for 58 yards. His lone score came on his longest run of the game, when he tore through a hole up the middle for 13 yards to create a 31-10 advantage late in the second quarter.
Bradshaw said of the time off: "It helped me a whole lot. I just felt more explosive. I'm not going through so much pain walking around."
It remains unclear how heavy a workload the hard-nosed Bradshaw will be able to bear. Some carries will most certainly have to fall to the rookie running back David Wilson, the team's first-round draft choice, who has been largely a disappointment. He was given some opportunities once Brown went to the locker room and turned six carries into only 13 yards. He did not have an attempt that went for more than 4 yards.
Wilson apparently lost the confidence of Coughlin when he fumbled on his second NFL carry and was not given another opportunity in a season-opening 24-17 loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys. He has accounted for 102 rushing yards on 24 tries and one score through 11 games. Wilson was more concerned about Brown's misfortune than the opportunity it presents him. "That's a terrible thing to happen, especially to one of my teammates," he said. "I wish him a speedy recovery."
Bradshaw said he emphasised with Wilson, who has struggled with pass protection, the need to respond with Brown out. "We're looking for him to step up a whole lot," Bradshaw said. New York Times Service
Falcons keep pace with Texans
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons kept pace with the 10-1 Houston Texans after a scrappy 24-23 win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cleveland Browns took advantage of the Pittsburgh Steelers' injury problems to record a 20-14 win over their old rivals while Peyton Manning threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns as his Denver Broncos beat Kansas City 17-9.
The Cincinnati Bengals pushed themselves into play-off contention with a 34-10 crushing of the Oakland Raiders and Jay Cutler enjoyed a winning return with Chicago against the Minnesota Vikings. Elsewhere, the San Francisco 49ers moved to 8-2-1 after 31-21 win in New Orleans.
Ryan threw for 353 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, while receiver Julio Jones had 147 yards and a touchdown, but the Falcons had to work for their win against an improved Tampa Bay (6-5). The Buccaneers grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter when Doug Martin ran his second touchdown of the game, a one-yard rush at the end of an 82-yard drive.
Connor Barth's 48-yard field goal extended the lead to 23-17 but Falcons running back Michael Turner powered in for a three- yard touchdown to give Atlanta a one-point advantage. Still, the Bucs had one more chance to secure a win but this time Barth failed with a field-goal attempt from 56 yards as Atlanta held on against their divisional rivals.
The Steelers were without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his deputy Byron Leftwich through injury and 37-year-old third-choice Charlie Batch struggled, throwing three interceptions in the loss at Cleveland. A 15-yard rushing touchdown by Trent Richardson proved to be the game-winner for a Browns team that took full advantage of eight turnovers by Pittsburgh, including a costly late fumble by running back Chris Rainey.
It was just the second time in 18 games that Cleveland enjoyed victory over the Steelers and the win damages Pittsburgh's hopes of catching the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. The Ravens (9-2) defeated the San Diego Chargers 16-13 in overtime.