EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The Giants offense was sharp against the Browns’ injury-depleted defense, and the Browns offense faltered – again.
The result was a 27-10 Giants victory here Sunday that, for the Browns, was as bad as the final score indicates.
The Browns didn’t score in the first three quarters, converted just 2-of-10 third downs, had three turnovers, lost a touchdown to a holding penalty, and fought an uphill battle all day with an average starting field position of their own 21-yard line.
Giants quarterback Kurt Warner threw for 286 yards against a Cleveland secondary that was without starting cornerbacks Daylon McCutcheon and Anthony Henry. New York running back Tiki Barber ran for 106 yards and a score.
The Browns had the momentum only once, on the first series of the second half, but two plays changed everything.
Trailing 10-0 but driving, Garcia fumbled the snap on first and goal from the New York 5, and Michael Strahan recovered the loose ball.
Barber was then dropped for a loss of four, but a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on Robert Griffith got the Giants out from the shadows of their own goal line. Griffith hit Tim Carter after Michael Lehan broke up a pass intended for Carter.
There was no helmet-to-helmet contact, but the Giants got 15 yards and a first down –and ended up putting together an 11-play, 95-yard scoring drive that chewed more than six minutes off the clock. Warner’s 1-yard run and Steve Christie’s extra point made it 17-0.
Cleveland got on the board on a 49-yard field goal by Phil Dawson early in the fourth quarter. Dawson’s 17th consecutive successful field goal try made it 17-3.
The Browns had to settle for a field goal after William Green had a 49-yard touchdown run negated by a holding call on Dennis Northcutt 20 yards downfield.
A 3-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Morgan with 3:36 left made it 20-10, but New York’s Jack Brewer recovered the ensuing onside kick, and the Giants marched 41 yards in five plays.
Mike Cloud’s 5-yard run with 2:02 left capped the scoring.
The Giants improved to 2-1, while the Browns fell to 1-2.
A week after throwing three interceptions and compiling a quarterback rating of zero, Garcia finished 21-of-31 for 180 yards. He was sacked four times and threw an interception on a desperation Hail Mary on the final play of the first half.
Another slow start hurt the Browns offense. Cleveland had just one first down in the first quarter and five in the first half. New York outgained the Browns in the first half, 221 to 89.
Warner-to-Amani Toomer passes keyed both of the Giants’ touchdown drives. They hooked up for a 47-yarder in the first quarter – Barber scored from eight yards out on the next play – and for 38 yards on the game-deciding drive in the third quarter.
Two plays later, Warner scored his first rushing touchdown since he quarterbacked the Rams in the Super Bowl against the Patriots in January 2002.