By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —
Ahmad Bradshaw got furious at himself, and took it out on the Cleveland Browns.
Bradshaw fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, setting up a Cleveland touchdown. After that, he was unstoppable, surpassing his yardage on the ground for the season with a career-best 200 yards in a 41-27 victory Sunday.
“I was angry at myself for the fumble and I just used it,” Bradshaw said. “I was disappointed with the fumble, but you put it out of your mind. I knew I was cool. We knew the running game was there, we were confident.”
The passing game was there, too. Victor Cruz made a career-best three touchdown catches. Eli Manning hit Cruz for scores of 3, 7 and 28 yards, prompting Cruz’s trademark salsa in the end zone after each touchdown.
“We showed how resilient we are,” said Cruz, who entered the game leading the NFL with 32 receptions and added five for 50 yards. “We started off rough, getting behind the 8-ball a bit, but we were able to keep our wits about us. We understand we’ll be able to make some plays offensively.”
Bradshaw added a 4-yard run as he darted inside and outside and frequently broke feeble tackle attempts. Bradshaw’s yardage on 30 carries easily beat the 132 he had heading into the game.
The Giants are 9-0 in games he has rushed for 100 yards or more.
New York (3-2) also forced three turnovers, including Chase Blackburn’s interception in the end zone midway in the fourth quarter to clinch it. That led to rookie David Wilson’s first NFL touchdown, a 40-yard scamper, which Wilson celebrated with a flip in the end zone.
The Giants rushed for 243 yards.
“It was across the board,” Bradshaw said of the rushing effort. “Inside, outside, left or right, the line was doing everything right.”
The Browns weren’t. They are 0-5 for the first time since their return season to the NFL in 1999 and have lost 11 straight dating back to last season, matching the franchise record. Their inexperience as the league’s youngest team could not be offset by the skills of third overall draft pick Trent Richardson, who ran for a touchdown for the fourth straight game.
And their defense couldn’t do anything with Cruz and Bradshaw.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland’s other first-round pick, hit another rookie, Josh Gordon, on two touchdown passes, but the Browns showed why they are winless with several critical errors in the pivotal second period, leading to 20 points for the Giants that pretty much decided matters.
“We’ve been starving for turnovers,” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who tied Bill Parcells for regular-season coaching victories with the franchise, 77.
Weeden was sharp for much of the first half, but made a terrible decision on third-and-1 from the Giants 25. With Richardson not on the field, Weeden rolled out and forced a pass to Gordon that sailed high, directly to Stevie Brown. The backup safety sped down the left sideline for 46 yards.
“I was trying to make a play. It was stupid,” Weeden said. “I should have airmailed it and let Phil (Dawson) kick a field goal. That was the one throw I want back.”
On the next play, Manning found Rueben Randle — yet another rookie — wide open on the left side for 36 more yards. Then Bradshaw highlighted his big opening half with his TD run to tie it at 17.
Veteran Joshua Cribbs made the next mistake for Cleveland, fumbling the ensuing kickoff. Brown was on the spot again for the recovery, and Cruz caught his second touchdown pass for New York’s first lead.
“We started out fast and got an early lead,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “We had a three-minute stretch before the end of the first half that was, ‘Wow, you can’t do that against a good football team.’ ‘’
Earlier, Cruz caught a 3-yard TD pass. Cruz, Randle and Dominek Hixon stepped up nicely with Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden sidelined Sunday.
The Browns weren’t finished handing away points. A pair of penalties led to a punt, and a 24-yard pass interference against Buster Skrine gave Lawrence Tynes a chance to kick a 40-yard field goal as the half ended.
Cleveland wound up with 10 penalties for 91 yards.
Before their collapse, the Browns looked sharp as the Giants made the gaffes that led to points.
Bradshaw fumbled when the ball hit guard Chris Snee’s shoulder gave the Browns a quick break at the New York 22 and Richardson took care of the yardage with runs of 7 and 15.
Wideout Gordon then beat double coverage, although with no cornerback in sight, for a 62-yard score and a 14-0 edge that didn’t last long.
NOTES: Cleveland lost MLB D’Qwell Jackson, one of its defensive leaders, to a concussion. CB Dimitri Patterson hurt an ankle and DT Ahtyba Rubin to a lower leg injury. Giants backup RB left with a head injury. ... Richardson finished with 81 yards rushing and 47 receiving. ... Weeden went 22 of 35 for 291 yards, while Manning was 25 of 37 for 259. Manning has won eight straight against AFC teams ... Coughlin trails only Steve Owen, who coached the Giants to 153 wins in 23 seasons. This is Coughlin’s ninth with New York.