Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul recorded his second-career pick-6 as the New York Giants beat the Green Bay Packers 27-13 Sunday at MetLife Stadium for their fourth straight win.
Pierre-Paul, who was questionable to even play this week after missing practice time with a shoulder injury, nabbed Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien's pass intended for tight end Andrew Quarless and returned it 24 yards as part of a second half that saw the Giants outscore the Packers 17-7. It was Pierre-Paul's first interception return since Oct 5. 28, 2012.
"I called it before it even happened, so that was a good thing," Pierre-Paul said.
"We needed a play to change the game, and I knew I could deliver a play that significant. I did and it changed the game."
Pierre-Paul, who said he wore a harness to protect his injured right shoulder in the game, admitted that it was difficult for him to get both arms up in the air the way he did before.
"It's pretty difficult, but you just have to have the will and power to do it, and I did," he said. "It's nothing I couldn't do."
Tolzien took full blame for the interception return.
"He made a nice play, but that's on me," said a dejected Tolzien after the game. "I gave them a freebie there, really. That's a huge momentum swing. We had a chance at that point, and that kills you."
The Giants (4-6), who started the season 0-6, jumped onto the scoreboard in the first quarter when quarterback Eli Manning connected with wide receiver Rueben Randle on a 26-yard touchdown pass, Randle's sixth touchdown reception this season.
After kicker Josh Brown, who finished the game with two field goals, made it 10-0 to start the second quarter, the Packers got field goals of 24 and 57 yards by kicker Mason Crosby, the 57-yarder being the longest ever made in the short history of MetLife Stadium, and the second longest in Packers' franchise history.
Linebacker Jon Beason intercepted Tolzien on the Packers' first drive of the third quarter, setting up Brown's second field goal of the game to give the Giants a 13-6 advantage.
"I didn't see him," Tolzien admitted when asked about the Beason interception. "As a quarterback, if you don't see a guy, you can't make the throw, it's as simple as that."
After the Packers came up one yard short on a fake punt on their next drive, the Giants drove 10 plays and 63 yards as running back Brandon Jacobs, active for the first time since Oct. 10, 2013, scored his 60th career rushing touchdown, making him the franchise leader.
The Packers pulled to within seven at the start of the fourth quarter as running back Eddie Lacy, whom the Giants held to just 27 rushing yards on 14 carries, scored on a 4-yard rushing touchdown following two long pass completions of 18 and 25 yards by Tolzien to receivers Jarrett Boykin and Jordy Nelson, respectively.
Tolzien, who finished 24 of 34 for 339 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions, began his team's ill-fated drive on their 30, but Pierre-Paul made an excellent read on the pass and jumped in front of Quarless to return the ball for the final dagger in the Packers' comeback hopes.
Safety Antrel Rolle was the recipient of Tolzien's final interception, a ball intended for wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to seal the win for the Giants.
With the Philadelphia Eagles snapping their 10-game losing streak at home thanks to a 24-16 win over the Washington Redskins, the Giants will look to keep pace with the rest of the NFC East when they host the Dallas Cowboys, who were on the bye this weekend, next week at MetLife Stadium.
"It's going to be a big-time game," Beason said. "Got the Cowboys rolling into town, a high-powered offense, and they're going to be rested. If we can get that one, we could be well on our way."
The Packers (5-5), whose losing streak extended to three games, will try to turn things around when they return home to host the Minnesota Vikings.
"We're 5-5, and lost three in a row, but I think there are definitely better days ahead," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "We need to win games and we're not doing enough of the little things from top to bottom. We need more big play production. That's how you win in this league."
NOTES: Rueben Randle's 32-yard punt return in the first quarter is a career best for the second-year receiver. ... Packers WR James Jones' 45-yard reception in the first half was the third-longest pass completion allowed by the Giants' defense this season, and the first over 30 yards since Oct. 10 when FB Tony Fiammetta of the Bears had a 30-yard reception. ... Packers K Mason Crosby's 57-yard field goal at the end of the first half is the second-best in franchise history. Crosby, whose field goal made it 10-6 Giants at the half, owns the Packers' longest field goal, a 58-yard conversion on Oct. 23, 2011 against Minnesota. ... Crosby's 57-yard field goal is also the longest ever against the Giants, surpassing a 55-yarder made by Brett Conway of the Washington Redskins on Oct. 7, 2011 at Giants Stadium. ... Packers DT Johnny Jolly left the game at the half with a groin injury and did not return. Packers CB James Nixon left the game with a knee injury and did not return.