The Patriots got the ball to start the third quarter, and there was an interesting play right away to open the second half.

On the first play from scrimmage Tom Brady found Aaron Hernandez on a 15-yard completion, but the officials ruled the pass incomplete.  Replays showed that Hernandez kept his hand under the ball throughout the play, and after Bill Belichick threw the red flag to challenge. The officials would overturn the call and the Patriots had the ball at their own 36 yard line.

From there the Patriots lined up Nate Solder in the slot, which caught most fans by surprise, but he was motioned back in and Brady instead tried to force the ball to Rob Gronkowski and was picked off for the second time.  It was later shown that Brady actually had Chad Ochocinco wide open on the left side, but Brady never looked his way.  It left Brady shouting some angry and frustrated obscenities as he came off the field.

The Giants capitalized on the turnover, with Eli Manning completing a 30-yard pass to Jake Ballard, who split New England safeties Patrick Chung and James Ihedigbo. Chung tried to hit him hard again, but this time Ballard held on.

Brandon Spikes and Kyle Arrington later collided on a 3rd and 3 miss from Manning to Victor Cruz on that same drive, with Spikes drilling Arrington after missing the hit on the Giants’ wide receiver.  Fortunately that play held New York to just a 22-yard field goal, and the Giants took a 3-0 lead with 10:12 to go in the quarter.  Spikes appeared to injure his right knee on the play, and was seen with a towel over his head on the sideline.  Not a great sign.  He was seen limping on the sideline and then later went to the locker room.


Kyle Arrington made a crucial interception in the third quarter to help keep the Patriots in the game. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Brady was nearly picked off on the first play of their next possession, trying to hit Deion Branch on the left side, and never saw Deon Grant. It was a big break for the Patriots quarterback, who almost threw his third pick of the day and it would have given the Giants great field position.

It didn’t matter, because the Giants would force a turnover three plays later after Michael Boley beat Matt Light around the outside and knocked the ball out of Brady’s hands on a pass attempt.  New York recovered, and they had the ball at New England’s 10-yard line.  From there on their first play from scrimmage, they saw Brandon Jacobs take it in from 10-yards out to put the Giants up 10-0 with 9:15 to go in the quarter.

The bad news was, the Patriots couldn’t answer.  Brady threw three straight incompletions, including his first target of the afternoon to Chad Ochocinco who couldn’t quite keep his feet in bounds on a 2nd & 5 play.

The good news was after Zoltan Mesko punted, the Giants muffed the catch and Rob Ninkovich recovered at the Giants 33.   From there New England went 19 yards on 7 plays, and managed to get a 32-yard field goal from Gostkowski to tighten the score to 10-3 with 5:33 left in the quarter.  On that drive Brady actually targeted Ochocinco twice, but was late both times throwing the football, which lead to the defender being able to close and make a play.

With the defense back on the field, Gary Guyton replaced Brandon Spikes, who is still absent after hurting his knee earlier in the quarter.  Guyton actually was the guy in coverage on the third and 5 play that helped force another three-and-out by New England’s defense.

Unfortunately the Patriots did the Giants a favor, with Julien Edelman getting the ball stripped out on the punt return and fumbling the ball, and the Giants recovered at the New England 40 yard line.

From there Victor Cruz beat Kyle Arrington on a deep out route for a 23 yard gain, which took them down to the Patriots 17.  Phillip Adams then allowed Ramses Barden to catch a back-shoulder pass for 15 yards from Eli Manning, which took the Patriots down to the New England 2-yard line.  Fortunately a delay of game penalty moved the Giants back 5-yards, and Arrington would later kill the drive with an interception in the endzone on a pass intended for Mario Manningham.  It was Arrington’s 5th of the season.

On New England’s ensuing possession they got off to a good start, with Brady making a tremendous throw as he was hit, picking up 27 yards on a pass to Wes Welker to take them to the Giants 47-yard line.  Two plays later Brady hit Welker again for 28 more, moving New England down to the Giants 16-yard line.

That’s where they stood as the quarter closed.