EAST RUTHERFORD – David Wilson might be dizzy from all the backflips.
The Giants rookie running back and kick returner – whose touchdown celebration is a standing backflip – scored three times and spent much of Sunday afternoon giving his offense terrific starting field position.
The 2012 first round draft pick out of Virginia Tech amassed 327 all-purpose yards against New Orleans, 227 coming on kick returns.
The 52-27 win marked the first time since 1986 the Giants scored more than 50 points, when they beat Green Bay 55-24. More importantly, it kept the defending Super Bowl champions alone atop the NFC East.
Eli Manning finished the day 22 of 35 with 259 yards and four touchdowns to go along with two interceptions. Wilson received the lion’s share of carries out of the backfield with 13 attempts for 100 yards and two scores, the final of which came on a 52-yard sprint up the left sideline in the fourth quarter. But it was the rookie’s first quarter 97-yard kick return for a touchdown that made his day.
“I think the kickoff return for a touchdown was really exciting, and really a spark for the team,” Wilson said. “I think I enjoyed that one more (than the 100 yards rushing). Any time you’re in the end zone you celebrate with the team, and you can see how happy we are.”
“I don’t know what took [Wilson] so long,” captain and defensive end Justin Tuck said. “He’s the best athlete on the team. His play gave us a huge shot in the arm, energized us and the crowd.”
Safety Stevie Brown also menaced Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his receivers, forcing a fumble and snagging two interceptions. The final turnover was returned for 70 yards, which put Brown in the Giants record books.
With the runback, Brown set the single-season franchise record for most interception return yards with 259, besting the 251 set by Em Tunnel in 1949, and tied by Dick Lynch in 1963.
“The defense played adequate; we could have played better,” said Tuck, who hadn’t beaten the Saints since Drew Brees began playing with the team in 2006. “Special teams was a huge boost. All around it was a good effort from all phases of our football team.”
The victory puts the Giants at 8-5 with three games remaining in the regular season.
"We came in and knew we needed a win," said Manning. "The other games weren't our concern today. We need to do what the Giants need to do and that's win ball games."
Safety Antrel Rolle agreed.
"We're just worried about the Giants and playing Giants football, not what the other teams are doing," Rolle said.
Leading the way for the Giants receivers was Victor Cruz, grabbing eight passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, with Hakeem Nicks hauling in four receptions for 67 yards and a score. Tight End Martellus Bennett hauled in Manning’s first touchdown pass in the first quarter, and Domenik Hixon found the end zone as well.
The Giants next stop is in Atlanta as they take on the 11-2 NFC South-leading Falcons on Sunday.