By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
STATS Senior Writer
(AP) — Eli Manning and the New York Giants are surging, and they have beaten the Seattle Seahawks by a combined 72 points over the teams’ last two meetings.
The Giants will try to stretch their win streak to four straight Sunday and hand the Seahawks a seventh consecutive road loss.
New York (3-1) has not lost since its opener at Washington, rallying from fourth-quarter deficits the last two weeks. Manning threw two touchdown passes in the final 3:37 of a 31-27 win at Arizona last Sunday.
“I think it is just that we are clicking now,” said receiver Hakeem Nicks, who had 10 catches for a career-high 162 yards and the winning touchdown. “Everyone is getting involved with the offense and people are stepping up at the tight end position.
“Victor Cruz stepping up and me and Mario Manningham as well and Ahmad (Bradshaw) is doing his part. I think we are finally clicking as a team. We are using all of our weapons.”
Manning has been the key with an NFL-best 139.5 fourth-quarter passer rating. After leading the league with a career-high 25 interceptions a year ago, his 90 straight passes without one is the league’s longest current streak.
“He’s tough,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He’s hard-nosed. He hangs in there. He believes in himself and his teammates. This is something that we’ve worked on and directed an awful lot of attention towards from the neck up with our team and the last two weeks it’s paid off.”
The emerging Cruz has nine catches for 208 yards with two scores over the last two games.
The Giants are brimming with confidence, and will play eight of their final 12 games at MetLife Stadium, including one as the road team against the New York Jets. The home field should be an advantage Sunday against a Seahawks team that has dropped nine straight in the Eastern time zone since a 28-24 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 2, 2007.
Seattle (1-3) last visited New Jersey in a 44-6 loss in 2008, when Manning completed 19 of 25 passes for 267 yards and two scores. He went 21 of 32 for 290 yards, three TDs and no interceptions in last year’s 41-7 rout for the Giants.
“They look great, they’re on fire, they’re rolling right now, three straight wins and all,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “So it’s going to be a really great matchup for us to go back out there and a great win to get so we’ll go after it.”
If there’s a weakness for the Giants now, it’s a rushing defense allowing 116.5 yards per game. That unit allowed Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy to gain 128 yards on Sept. 25 and Beanie Wells to rush for a career-high 138 last week.
The Seahawks, though, will be hard-pressed to take advantage since they own the league’s second-worst rushing attack with 67.5 yards per game. They managed 53 yards in last Sunday’s 30-28 loss to Atlanta.
Tarvaris Jackson showed some progress by completing 25 of 38 passes for a career-high 319 yards, three scores and two interceptions. Jackson was not sacked after being dropped 14 times through the first three weeks to tie for the most in the NFL.
“What we’ve talked about Tarvaris and what we’ve felt about him showed up,” Carroll said. “It’s good for him, it’s good for everybody.”
New York’s pass rush will be bolstered if Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck returns after missing last week’s game with a groin injury and a neck issue, but he missed practice Friday and is doubtful. Osi Umenyiora made his season debut and had two of the Giants’ four sacks.
Only one team has fewer than the Seattle defense’s five sacks, but Manning already has been sacked 11 times compared to 16 all of last season.
Jackson is 2-1 as a starter against New York, although he has been sacked 10 times in those games. Sidney Rice has three touchdowns among 15 receptions in four games versus the Giants.
“Everyone knows what Sidney is capable of,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. “He is a big-time receiver and a deep threat that can make a lot of plays. At the same time, we are going to go play ball no matter who is in the lineup.”
Rice might get even more attention with fellow starter Mike Williams out because of a concussion. Ben Obomanu is expected to start in his place, while Golden Tate should see more action.
It appears running back Brandon Jacobs won’t be in New York’s lineup. Jacobs missed his third day of practice Friday due to a sprained left MCL and is doubtful.
“I thought he’d make more progress, but that hasn’t been the case,” Coughlin said. “I don’t know if it’s a setback, but there is swelling.”
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