EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rookie David Wilson finally delivered on all the promise and might have provided the spark that gets the New York Giants back to the playoffs.
Wilson returned a kickoff 97 yards for one touchdown, ran for 100 yards and two more scores and piled up a team-record 327 all-purpose yards in a 52-27 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday that also featured four touchdown passes by Eli Manning.
The first-round draft pick from Virginia Tech is the first NFL player to have 200 yards in kickoff returns and 100 yards rushing in a game, with his total breaking the Giants mark of 303 set by current teammate Domenik Hixon in 2009.
The Giants (8-5) maintained their one-game lead in the NFC East over Washington and Dallas. The loss all but ended the playoff hopes of Drew Brees and the Saints (5-8).
New York also ended a three-game losing streak against the Saints, who turned over the ball four times in losing their third straight.
Manning had TD passes of 6 yards to Martellus Bennett, 5 yards to Hixon, 25 yards to Hakeem Nicks and 10 yards to Victor Cruz. Wilson scored on runs of 6 and 52 yards and reached the century mark on only 13 carries for the biggest day of his short career.
The 52 points were their most since scoring 55 against Green Bay in 1986. It also was the most given up by New Orleans, whose defense is run by former New York coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Darren Sproles scored on a 13-yard run and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Brees late in the third quarter, cutting the Giants lead to 35-27.
However, Jerrel Jernigan returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to set up Manning’s touchdown pass to Cruz. New York iced the game when Stevie Brown returned one of two interceptions thrown by Brees to set up Lawrence Tynes’ 39-yard field goal.
The biggest play was Wilson’s kickoff return, which came one play after Elbert Mack intercepted Manning in the left flat and returned it 73 yards to give the Saints a 7-0 lead. l
The touchdown came minutes after Dallas rallied for a 20-19 win over Cincinnati and Washington beat Baltimore 31-28 in overtime despite losing Robert Griffin III to a knee injury.
The Giants could have folded against a team that had routed them the past two meetings. Instead, Wilson, who has been threatening all season to break a kickoff, fielded one at the 3, went up the middle and then veered toward the right corner of the end zone. He capped it with a somersault.
A fumble near midfield Jed Collins led to Manning’s touchdown pass to Bennett and New York never trailed again.
Manning finished 22 of 35 for 259 yards and two interceptions. Brees, who had never lost to the Giants and had eight TD passes and no interceptions in the last two games, finished 26 of 43 for 354 yards. New Orleans outgained New York 487-394, but mistakes were its undoing.
The Giants didn’t cash in after Wilson’s returns of 58 and 52 yards, but his 20-yarder late in the half after a short kickoff set up a 69-yard touchdown drive. Manning capped it with the fade route to Hixon.
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph returned Collins’ miscue 16 yards to the Saints 35. A 16-yard pass to Hixon and a couple of penalties set up a 6-yard touchdown toss to Bennett for a 14-7 lead.
Brees took the Saints on drives of 81 and 67 yards in the second quarter, but each time the NFL’s top red-zone offense settled for field goals of 32 and 25 yards by Garrett Hartley.