AP Sports Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ All the warnings coach Tom Coughlin
gave the New York Giants before their game with the winless Miami
Dolphins seemingly went in one ear and out the other.

The Giants’ running game was non existent. The defense showed up
for a half. And as the minutes ticked by, it seemed the Dolphins
were sensing victory _ that’s is until Eli Manning stole it from
them, like so many others before him.

Manning threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz with 5:58
to play and the Giants barely avoided a post-bye letdown, keeping
Miami (0-7) winless with a 20-17 victory Sunday.

“The pressure was there just to get the win,” Giants guard
Chris Snee said. “No one was concerned about ‘Oh, we’re going to
lose to a winless team, or we were going to lose.’ We thought we
were still going to win the game and that’s just the confidence we
have, and that stems from Eli.”

Despite some pressure, Manning was outstanding in handing the
Dolphins another late loss that has to increase the pressure on
embattled coach Tony Sparano.

He hit 31 of 45 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns and no
interceptions in rallying the Giants from an 11-point first-half
deficit. He would have had a lot more yards if tight end Jake
Ballard and receiver Hakeem Nicks held on to a couple of perfect
long tosses.

Mario Manningham caught the other touchdown, a 7-yard play that
got New York (5-2) back into the game late in the first half.

“We knew we were going to get pressure,” Coughlin said. “We
probably got pressure 40-50 percent of the time. It caused some
issues with the running game (58 yards). But Eli made some big
plays. Obviously he threw the ball a lot today. No turnovers, no
interceptions, and he made plays when we had to have them. Once
again, he did a very good job.”

Manning said the Giants had chances to put up a lot more points,
but they hurt themselves with the drops, penalties and negative
plays down close.

“We knew coming in it would be a tough battle,” Manning said.
“A lot of games have come to the fourth quarter, and we knew it
would be a tough road. They did a lot of good things defensively,
ran a lot of different blitzes. We didn’t run the ball real well
today, and we had to throw the ball more than we wanted to. But
we’re capable of doing that.”

And when they are close this season, Manning has found a way to
win most of the time. Four of their five wins have come in the
fourth quarter.

“He is a clutch player,” said center David Baas, who joined
the team this season. “No matter what happens, he stays calm and
rises to the occasion.”

The loss was another frustration for the Sparano, who endured a
week of hearing rumors that the Dolphins were interested in hiring
former Steelers coach Bill Cowher next season. It followed a brutal
loss to Tim Tebow and Denver, a game in which Miami blew a 15-point
lead with less than three minutes to play.

“We went toe to toe with them, swung hard. We didn’t win. It’s
not acceptable,” Sparano said.

Cowher issued a statement Sunday, saying no one has approached
him about a job and he intends to work for CBS TV again next

Lawrence Tynes kicked two short field goals, and New York’s
defense got four sacks on the Dolphins’ final two drives. Corey
Webster iced it with his third interception in the last two games.

Steve Slaton and Matt Moore (13 of 22 for 138) capped the
Dolphins’ first two drives with 1-yard runs. But Miami could only
muster a 40-yard third-quarter field goal by Dan Carpenter the rest
of the way.

The Giants’ winning drive covered 53 yards in six plays.

Ahmad Bradshaw, who missed much of the second half getting his
right foot X-rayed, had runs of 2 and 11 yards to get the drive
started and Manning hit Nicks for 17 yards to the Miami 23.

The quarterback found a wide open Cruz over the middle and the
New Jersey native spun out of Will Allen’s attempted tackle at the
5-yard line.

“It was basically a seam route,” said Cruz, who has four
touchdown catches as a part-timer. “They were playing Cover-2, Eli
put it on me, and I just went up the field spun around, and got
into the end zone.”

A kickoff return by Slaton to the Dolphins 45 resulted in
nothing when New York got two sacks, the last by a combination of
Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck, who was playing for the first
time in four games.

Miami, which wasted two time-outs early, got the ball back at
its 16 with 3:35 to play and quickly got a 24-yard completion to
Davone Bess.

However, Osi Umenyiora and Kiwanuka got sacks for 10-yard losses
on consecutive plays to set up Webster fourth-down pick.

Miami, which came in having scored seven touchdowns in its first
six games, scored on its first two series, the first time they
scored on consecutive drives this season.

Moore looked like Tom Brady _ next week’s opponent _ in leading
the Dolphins on scoring drives of 66 and 90 yards. He had a 15-yard
third-down scramble to set up Slaton’s 1-yard run, and an 11-yard
third-down run on the longer drive that he capped with a
fourth-down 1-yard bootleg.

Notes: The game was the Giants’ 1,200th regular-season game.
They join the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Chicago-St.
Louis-Phoenix-Arizona Cardinals at that plateau. … Moore rushed
for a career-best 31 yards. … Reggie Bush rushed for a
season-high 103-yards. … Dolphins C Mike Pouncey missed much of
the second half after taking a shot to the head that left his body
numb. … Nicks pulled a hamstring on the Giants next to last

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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