Ever since he fumbled on his first carry of the season, Giants first-round pick David Wilson has been a fringe player for the team.
That changed on Sunday afternoon during a rain-swept 52-27 win over the Saints that kept the Giants in first place for at least one more week. Wilson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, ran for a touchdown in the third quarter and then iced the game with a 52-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
Wilson's returns were part of a huge day of return yardage for the Giants. They had 413 return yards on kickoffs (Wilson had several other big returns into New Orleans territory and Jerrel Jernigan added a 60-yarder when the Saints kicked away from Wilson), punts, fumbles and interceptions.
The fumbles and interceptions loomed just as large as the kickoffs. The Giants forced a pair of fumbles after Saints completions in the first half, halting the visitors' momentum and building a 21-13 halftime lead in the process.
Then Stevie Brown picked off Drew Brees twice in the second half, leading to 10 more Giants points as they built up a couple of big second half leads. They jumped out to a 35-13 bulge after their first two possessions of the third quarter, let the Saints score a pair of quick touchdowns and then rallied back for 17 more points to put the game back out of reach in the fourth.
All of those turnovers meant that the Giants offense didn't have to do all that much as seven of their drives started in Saints territory. What they did have to do, they did well for the most part.
Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes and showed that he and Victor Cruz can still get on the same page. Give credit to the offensive line for keeping the pocket clean and to the Saints for the shabbiness of their defense this season.
Manning threw a couple of bad picks and missed on a few passes that would have led to even more points, but they didn't come back to haunt the Giants and there was much more good than bad overall. It was the kind of controlled performance you wanted to see after the sloppy game in Washington.
With the Redskins and Cowboys pulling out nailbiters early, the Giants had to win this game to stay on top of the division. They'll need to keep winning to guarantee themselves a playoff spot.
If they keep getting games like this from Wilson, that shouldn't be a problem.