Victor Cruz Overcomes Early Struggles, Becomes Homecoming Hero
Robert Deutsch, USATSI

After a key drop and a lost fumble, Victor Cruz righted the ship with a huge reception to set up a game winning field goal.

It had been nearly two years since the last time New York Giants’ fans got to watch Victor Cruz play a regular season game at MetLife Stadium. After catching the game winning touchdown pass in the prior week’s win against the Dallas Cowboys, the expectations were on the rise for the former undrafted free agent.

Entering New York’s September 18 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Cruz was expected to be a big part of another huge offensive display between the two teams. When the two clubs met last season they racked up a combined gaudy 101 points in a losing effort by New York.

Predictions of a repeat shootout never came to fruition though. The Giants’ defense did a great job keeping Drew Brees in check, sacking him twice and applying consistent pressure. New York’s defensive backfield also did a great job of taking away Brees’ number one target, Willie Snead. After recording nine catches and 172 yards the week before, Big Blue held Snead to five catches and 54 yards.

Yet, while the Giants’ defensive unit impressed, the offense squandered scoring chances at every turn.

Cruz was among the top culprits of the early game offensive hiccups. The former Super Bowl champion looked destined for a rough homecoming as the game went on. He dropped and third down pass in the end zone and lost a crucial fumble after a long catch and run.

However, the narrative of Cruz’s underwhelming game was completely flipped in the contest’s closing seconds.

The hometown kid comes through in the clutch:

The Giants faced third and eight on the New Orleans 36 with under two minutes to go in a tied ball game. On the prior play receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had dropped a wide open pass, missing out on what would have been a surefire touchdown.

That’s when quarterback Eli Manning took a shot down the right sideline to Cruz. Despite his earlier struggles throughout the game, Cruz came up big time in the game’s most crucial moments.

Leaping into the air, he took advantage of his half step on the opposing corner to get his hands on the football. New Orleans corner Ken Crawley got his arm in between Cruz’s and on the football, having an opportunity to either knock it out or even intercept it. The pair went down to the turf, both wrestling for position. Cruz though hung on tight and ripped the ball away from Crawley, securing the Giants possession at the Saints’ two-yard line.

Cruz’s clutch catch allowed New York to take a series of knees to whittle down the game clock. In the final moments of the contest, kicker Josh Brown put the game winner through the uprights. The Giants escaped another nail-bitter, again thanks to the late game heroics of Victor Cruz.

Cruz finished the game with four catches for 91 yards. While there was no salsa sightings on the day, Cruz will be content with lifting his team to the victory.

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