Giants win first game of the season behind Eli Manning
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Eli Manning misfired on just four passes all afternoon, and a resurgent final drive gave the Giants a much-needed victory on the road.

Reports of Eli Manning’s demise have apparently been greatly exaggerated.

With his back against the wall, Manning went 25-of-29 for 297 yards, guiding the Giants to their first win of the season with a 27-22 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

The first half featured perhaps the Giants most successful 30 minutes of football from an offensive standpoint, as the team scored on each of their first four drives in the half.

After Houston opened up a 3-0 lead early, courtesy of a short field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn, the Giants (1-2) embarked on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ate up exactly six minutes, a trek that concluded with a 15-yard scoring run by Saquon Barkley, the second score of his NFL career. The drive featured two third-down conversions prior to Barkley’s run-in.

The defense proceeded to take care of business, forcing a potent Texans offense into three consecutive drives that featured zero first downs. The offense built on their lead with two Aldrick Rosas field goals and an Eli Manning touchdown to Rhett Ellison from 16 yards out to put the Giants up 20-6, the Texans adding one more Fairbairn field goal before the half let out.

The defense held Watson and company in check, mostly energized on the defensive line by end Kerry Wynn, who shared a first-half sack with Lorenzo Carter.

Typical offensive silliness, however, antics that have become far too common in recent years, showed up in the second half.

Four consecutive punts allowed the Texans to creep back into the game, as JJ Watt took advantage of the Giants’ beleaguered offensive line, terrorizing late starting lineup addition Chad Wheeler. The defensive superstar broke loose for his first sacks in over two calendar years, earning three on the afternoon, keeping the Texas close.

Another Fairbairn failed goal narrowed the gap, but DeShaun Watson continued to drive his team into Giants territory. But before he could finally help the team break through, Alec Ogletree took the ball away, an interception in his own end zone giving the Giants the ball back.

The Texans did finally reach the end zone on the next possession, with Watson engineering a seven-play, 67-yard drive, complete with a six-yard touchdown to Will Fuller. The Giants were able to stop the ensuing two-point try to keep the score at 20-15.

The Giants, however, responded with a drive that, should things continue to trend in the right direction, could serve as the turning point of the season.

Manning embarked on a nine-play, 77-yard clincher, in which he completed all six of his pass attempts. He capped things off with a six-yard scoring pass to Sterling Shepard, giving the Giants the margin necessary to escape Houston with the win. The Texans did make the score a tad more respectable with a touchdown pass to Lamar Miller, but with a second left, things were firmly decided.

The Giants return to action next Sunday afternoon for a late afternoon game against the New Orleans Saints (4:25 p.m., Fox)

Follow Geoff Magliocchetti on TWITTER