NFC West can attest to Cruz in clutch

INDIANAPOLIS -- Back in Week 5, the New York Giants trailed the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter when Victor Cruz reached out with one hand to snag a deflected pass for a 68-yard touchdown.

The go-ahead scoring play came under circumstances familiar to Cruz: on third down, and with his team trailing on the scoreboard.

2011 Top Receivers by Down When Trailing

The Giants frequently played from behind this season. Cruz was their dominant threat on third down. The chart, from ESPN Stats & Information, ranks NFL players by third-down receiving yardage when their teams were trailing during the regular season. Such a chart would favor players from losing teams, but the Giants finished 9-7 and won their division.

Cruz's 36-yard reception on third-and-6 against San Francisco sustained an early scoring drive after the Giants fell behind in the NFC Championship Game.

Cruz had a 36-yarder on third-and-7 against the 49ers in Week 10, sustaining a go-ahead scoring drive in the third quarter.

Eli Manning completed 17 of 20 attempts for 455 yards when targeting Cruz on third down when the Giants were trailing during the regular season. We might anticipate more of the same if the Giants fall behind New England in the Super Bowl on Sunday.