From Comcast SportsNetEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Eli Manning needed a near-record performance to make up for his own mistakes and help the Super Bowl champion New York Giants avoid a second straight loss.Manning threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns and capped the second greatest passing day by a Giants' quarterback by setting up Andre Brown's game-winning 2-yard run with a 50-yard pass that lifted New York to a wild 41-34 victory Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.The game featured four touchdowns in the final 6:48, and ended with some postgame squabbling between Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. Coughlin screamed at the former Rutgers coach after Manning was knocked down on the final play because the Bucs went all out to try to force a fumble on a kneel-down."I told some of our young players, you've played in big games in college, but this is something else," Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "This is what you live for. We'd have liked to play better, but if I was a fan at the game and not so close, I would have enjoyed it."Manning, who completed 31 of 51 passes, made it really enjoyable for Giants' fans. The two-time Super Bowl MVP overcame a miserable first half with a 295 yards passing in the second half, tying for the eighth most in NFL history and coming up 3 yards short of Phil Simms' club record. After his three first-half interceptions staked the Bucs (1-1) to an 11-point lead, Manning was nearly flawless when the Giants needed him at his best."Eli hung in. He made a couple of bad plays, but he didn't get discouraged," Coughlin said. "We just kept talking about the character of this team and we finally made some plays and came back."Manning threw touchdowns of 23 yards to Hakeem Nicks, 80 to Victor Cruz and 33 to Martellus Bennett with 3:59 to play to give New York a 34-27 lead. After Cruz scored and celebrated with his trademark salsa, Brown scored on a 2-point conversion run to tie the game."Nobody wants to start 0-2, so it was a big win, especially after the first half playing poorly," said Manning, whose previous single-game best was 420 yards passing against Seattle in a loss last season. "After not playing well, it's kind of getting back to that level of playing good football. Really good. No punts, no turnovers. Some big-time plays and stepping up when we needed it, that was fun to have."In 1951, Los Angeles' Norm Van Brocklin threw for a record 554 yards against New York.Josh Freeman tied the game at 34-all with a 41-yard pass to Mike Williams, but Manning drove New York 80 yards in four plays to win it. A 50-yard completion to Nicks led to Brown's score, which came one play after he kneeled at the 2 when Tampa Bay was letting him score."They made plays. It's a game of inches," Schiano said. "They were able to make them. We were close and we didn't. Just got to do a better job all around, coaching, playing.Schiano defended the way the Bucs played on the final snap, saying his team will play through the final whistle, which came one play after Michael Boley intercepted Freeman's pass at the Giants 30 in the closing seconds.Manning was not hurt, but there was shoving and maybe even punches in the scrum."It was a little bit of a cheap shot," Manning said. "We're taking a knee in a friendly way and they're firing off. It's a good way to get someone hurt."Manning's effort helped the Giants gain 604 yards and hold the ball for 33:29. Cruz, who attended his grandmother's funeral on Friday, and Hicks, who has battled foot injuries all season and had a foot stomped on in the Giants' 25-point fourth quarter, both had career games.Cruz finished with 11 catches for 179 yards, both career highs, while Nicks had 10 catches for 199 yards, with the yardage a personal best.The Giants are the second team in NFL history to have a 500-yard passer and two 150-yard receivers in the same game. Van Brocklin's '51 Rams were the first."This team always says we're going to come back. It's just a confidence level you've got to have," Nicks said. "Eli is an elite quarterback, so there's a confidence that he can get it done."Lawrence Tynes kicked four field goals for the Giants, who played a lot better after a season-opening 24-17 loss to Dallas 10 days ago. But they trailed for most of the game.Freeman finished 15 of 28 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The first score covered 29 yards to Vincent Jackson, who had five catches for 128 yards. Doug Martin (20 for 66) ran 8 yards for a TD and Eric Wright returned the last of Manning's interceptions 60 yards for a touchdown just :08 before halftime."It hurts, but I still believe in my teammates, and the coaching, and the staff," Buccaneers defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. "It's going to come together and it's going to be something great."The Bucs turned Manning's three first-half interceptions into 21 points, with the most crushing pick being Wright's 60-yard return for a 24-13 lead. Manning was moving New York into position for a field goal when Wright simply reached up and snatched Manning's short pass to Cruz. He then weaved his way through a logjam and down the sideline.Linebacker Mason Foster got the first interception at the Giants 28 early in the second quarter when Manning didn't put enough air under a touch pass to Bennett.Three plays later, Freeman showed poise under pressure and lofted an arcing pass that Jackson caught in stride for a touchdown.Backup cornerback Brandon McDonald got the second interception as the replacement officials missed a holding call on Barber against Cruz. McDonald returned it 40 yards and a personal foul moved the ball to the 13. Martin scored two plays later.Manning's 23-yard touchdown pass to Nicks closed the gap to 17-13, but Wright ended the half with his big play."He made some throws," Barber said. "They made more plays than we did. One more, in fact."NOTES:Wright's interception return was the 40th defensive TD for the Bucs since 2000, the third most in the NFL behind Baltimore and Green Bay, who are tied at 42. ...Tampa Bay PK Connor Barth made field goals of 45 and 52 yards and now has made 20 straight. ...Foster led the Bucs with 13 tackles. ...The Giants had two sacks with linebacker Chase Blackburn and Jason Pierre-Paul recording them. ...Pierre-Paul led New York with eight tackles. ..The Giants rushed for 94 yards against a Bucs' defense that limited Carolina to 10 yards in the season opener.
CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.
"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."
There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking.
"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."
After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.
--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.
--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.
--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player.
“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season.
“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”
If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year.
--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.
--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”
--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.
SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.
Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.
And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.
Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.
But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.
“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.
“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”
Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.
The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.
“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.
“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”
Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.
So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.
“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”
Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.
Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.
“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”
Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.
“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”
There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.
That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.
Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.
He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.
And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.