EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Arizona Cardinals are getting so good they can win with a backup quarterback who hadn’t played since 2010.
Ted Ginn Jr. ran 71 yards on a punt return for a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown, and the Cardinals beat the error-prone New York Giants 25-14 Sept. 14 despite playing without injured starting quarterback Carson Palmer.
Drew Stanton threw for 167 yards and led the Cardinals (2-0) on three long scoring drives in helping them win for the ninth time in 11 games. Arizona finished 10-6 last season, but missed the playoffs.
Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 1-yard run and Chandler Catanzaro kicked four field goals, including one a minute after Ginn’s electrifying return on which the speedster bounced off a tackle and was gone.
The Cardinals got the ball back right away after Quintin Demps fumbled the ensuing kickoff return.
Eli Manning (26 of 39 for 277 and two interceptions) threw two touchdowns for the Giants (0-2), who turned over the ball four times.
Manning’s touchdown passes covered 7 yards to Rueben Randle and 1 yard to Daniel Fells, the last one putting New York ahead 14-10 late in the third quarter.
Stanton, who finished 14 of 29 and no interceptions, closed the gap to 14-13 on a 13-play, 74-yard march that Catanzaro capped with a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Giants went three-and-out when Victor Cruz would not catch a third-down sideline pass in front of the Cardinals bench. It proved costly.
Steve Weatherford, who tore ligaments in his left ankle in the season opener, got off a low punt. Ginn bounced off an initial tackle by Zack Bowman, circled right and turned upfield. Only Weatherford had a chance to tackle him and it was a mismatch.
The Cardinals, who rallied to beat San Diego Sept. 8, failed on the 2-point conversion run. But Demps’ fumble and the ensuing 32-yard field goal by Catanzaro pushed the lead to 22-14.
New York had a chance to tie, moving into Cardinals territory with less than five minutes to play. Then running back Rashad Jennings lost his footing after catching a swing pass and fumbled at the 15.
And the Giants now seem on their way to another horrible start; they opened last season 0-6.
Stanton was outstanding. He guided an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the opening series, and a 10-play, 40-yard field goal drive on the next one.
Dwyer capped the first one from less than a yard after video review denied Larry Fitzgerald an 8-yard TD catch. Catanzaro kicked a 49-yard field goal to finish the second drive that featured runs of 15 yards by Andre Ellington and 20 by Dwyer.
The Giants’ defense helped the Cardinals on both drives. A roughing-the-passer call on Jameel McClain even though a delay of game was called gave Arizona a first down on the opening drive.
A questionable illegal contact call against Prince Amukamara on third down gave Arizona a first down at the Giants 35.
Manning got the Giants back in the game with a 13-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that ended with Randle making a one-handed catch of a 7-yard fade pass to the corner of the end zone. Manning hit 6-of-7 passes on the drive, including a 25-yard to Cruz on third-and-11.
(TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer)