By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Unsung is an understatement for the
guys who lifted the Seattle Seahawks to victory Sunday.
Doug Baldwin, Brandon Browner and Charlie Whitehurst were the
unlikely stars as Seattle beat the New York Giants at their own
game: with a fourth-quarter rally.
Backup quarterback Whitehurst threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to
Baldwin with 2:37 to play and Browner returned an interception 94
yards to thwart a desperate, late challenge by the Giants as the
Seahawks won 36-25 on Sunday.
“We believe in ourselves and we believe in each other,”
Baldwin said after making eight catches for 136 yards and the
critical score. “It’s believing the guys next to you will do it.”
Baldwin is an undrafted free agent from Stanford who leads the
team with 20 receptions. Browner is a first-year NFL player who
spent four years in the Canadian Football League before joining the
Seahawks. His romp down the right sideline _ with coach Pete
Carroll sprinting along with him for a few yards _ finished off New
York (3-2), which had rallied for victories in its last two games.
“It was almost like slow motion, the tipped ball and it landed
in my hands and it was a footrace from there,” Browner said.
Whitehurst, who replaced the injured Tarvaris Jackson in the
third quarter, led the Seahawks (2-3) on an 80-yard touchdown drive
capped with his pass to Baldwin on a play in which the Giants
seemed to stop after defensive end Osi Umenyiora jumped offside.
“I did notice that,” Whitehurst said of the offside. “Leon
(Washington) picked him up and they kind of stopped dead and I got
the ball out of my hand quickly. Doug was wide open.”
The Giants mounted another late drive and had first-and-goal at
the Seahawks 5 after consecutive completions of 41 and 19 yards to
Victor Cruz. A procedure penalty on first down pushed the ball back
to the 10, then Eli Manning (24 of 39 for 420 yards, three
touchdowns and three interceptions) looked to Cruz one more time.
His pass tipped off Cruz’s hands, bounced off Kam Chancellor and
was picked off in the air at the 6-yard line by Browner, who went
the distance to ice the game.
Cruz had eight catches for 161 yards, including a 68-yard TD
after Chancellor misplayed what should have been an interception
and tipped the ball into the air. Cruz stuck out his right arm for
a one-handed catch and sped the final 25 yards to score, making it
22-19 for New York.
But Cruz couldn’t hold on to the biggest throw.
“I thought I gripped it, but as soon as I went to grip it in, I
got hit and it bobbled up in the air,” Cruz said. “I knew it was
all downhill from there because there were two guys there and one
of them was going to pick it off.”
Whitehurst finished 11 of 19 for 149 yards in relief of Jackson,
who was 15 of 22 for 166 yards and a touchdown before going out
with a chest injury after being tackled on a third-quarter run.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown, and Steven
Hauschka had field goals of 51 and 43 yards.
Manning’s touchdown passes covered 13 yards to tight end Jake
Ballard, 19 to Hakeem Nicks just before halftime and the long one
to Cruz, which seemingly had the Giants on the road to their fourth
Seattle dominated the third quarter with defense. It took a
16-14 lead on a safety by Anthony Hargrove on a tackle on a play
that started at the Giants 5.
“I came inside and beat the guard and all I saw was a guy in
blue in the end zone,” Hargrove said.
The lead grew to 19-14 on the long field goal by Hauschka, and
then the fun started in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks should have gone to the locker room at halftime
with at least a seven-point lead, but instead found themselves tied
at 14 after Giants cornerback Aaron Ross picked off Jackson’s throw
at the New York 41 with less than a minute to play. Manning then
completed four straight passes, the final one covering 19 yards to
a diving Nicks in the right corner of the end zone.
The interception wasn’t the only mistake for Seattle, which lost
two fumbles deep in Giants territory. Lynch lost one at the 11 in
the first quarter and Michael Robinson lost the other on a
first-and-goal from the 2 in the second quarter.
The Seahawks also let a golden opportunity slip away just before
halftime when Manning could not handle a low snap from center Kevin
Boothe. It appeared linebacker Leroy Hill had a chance to recover
the ball, but he missed and Boothe fell on it.
Still, Seattle scored more points in the first 12 minutes of
this game than it did in the last two games against New York, when
the Seahawks were outscored 85-13.
The game opened with the teams exchanging lightning-fast 80-yard
Ben Obomanu scored on an 11-yard pass in the flat that caught
the Giants in a blitz, while Ballard carried linebacker David
Hawthorne the final 2 yards on a 13-yard TD pass up the middle.
Notes: Two Giants, guard Chris Snee and long snapper Zak
DeOssie, sustained concussions. … Baldwin had 12 receptions
coming into the game for 194 yards. … The game was a relative
sackfest: New York had six, led by Jason Pierre-Paul with 21/2, and
Seattle had three, two by Chris Clemons.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)