As a rookie in 2010, Victor Cruz never had a pass thrown in his direction in the three regular season games in which he played. In the 2011 season opener in Washington, Eli Manning threw to him on the Giants' first third down of the season – and Cruz dropped the ball. Cruz did not have a reception in that game and caught only two passes in the Giants' Week 2 victory over St. Louis.
Out of those humble beginnings, Cruz is putting together one of the finest seasons ever by a Giants wide receiver and he and fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks are poised to make Giants history.
Cruz leads the team with 62 catches for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns. The 62 catches place him 10th in the NFL, while the yardage total is fourth, just 16 yards behind Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Carolina's Steve Smith, who are tied for second.
Cruz is not going to challenge Steve Smith's franchise record of 107 catches, set in 2009. But if he maintains his average of 5.2 catches a game, he will move into second place on the franchise's list, where Amani Toomer currently resides with 82 receptions in 2002. Cruz has caught at least six passes in each of the last six games.
The second-year pro from UMass is on pace to shatter Toomer's Giants single-season record of 1,343 yards, set in 2002. Cruz is averaging about 90 yards game – which projects to a final total of 1,434 - and needs 268 yards, or 67 a game, to tie the record.
In the Giants' last three games, Cruz's yardage totals have been 128, 157 and 119. He is one of only five NFL players with at least three consecutive 100 yard games this season. The others are New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace and New England's Wes Welker and Johnson of Detroit.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cruz is only the fourth Giants receiver in history with three consecutive 110 yard games, joining Del Shofner (1963), Homer Jones (1968) and Mario Manningham in the final three games of the 2010 season.
Cruz has five 100-yard games this season, one shy of the franchise record set by Shofner in 1963.
Cruz is averaging 17.4 yards per catch. The only other Giant to maintain that high an average with at least 62 receptions was Shofner, who averaged 18.5 yards a catch (64 for 1,181) in 1963.
*The Giants are one of just four franchises that have never had two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season (the others are Houston, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia). But that could soon change. Nicks is second on the team with 860 and needs to average 35 yards a game in the final four weeks to join Cruz at that milestone.
*While Cruz and Nicks have posted impressive numbers catching passes, Eli Manning has done the same throwing them.
Manning is on pace to set career highs and Giants single-season records in attempts, completions and yards and he has a shot to become the first 5,000-yard passer in Giants history. That total has been reached just twice in NFL history (by Dan Marino in 1984 and Drew Brees in 2008) though three other quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Brees – are on pace to crack that barrier this season.
Manning has thrown for 3,705 yards, which projects to a 16-game total of 4,940 yards. The Giants record of 4,073 yards was set by Kerry Collins in 2002. Manning's career high of 4,021 was set in 2009.
Manning's 442 pass attempts leave him on pace to throw 589 passes this season. That would easily break Collins' club record of 568, set in 2001, and Manning's career high of 539, set last year.
Manning has completed 276 passes, or 23 a game. If he maintains that average over the final four weeks, he will finish with 368, breaking the franchise mark of 339 he set in 2010.
The Giants' quarterback is also on pace to throw 30 touchdown passes, which is one shy of the career high he set last season.
*Manning's six 300-yard games is a Giants single-season record. The NFL record is 10, set by Oakland's Rich Gannon in 2002 and tied by Brees in 2008. Manning's 20 career 300-yard games are one shy of Phil Simms' franchise record.
*Although they have a four-game losing streak, the Giants can win the NFC East title by winning their final four games. Since 2000, four teams have won their last four games after entering that stretch with a losing streak of at least four games: Detroit (2010), Houston (2009), Cleveland (2009) and Washington (2007).
*In the last two weeks, Brees and Rodgers each threw four touchdown passes against the Giants. It is the first time the Giants allowed that many scoring throws in back-to-back games since Nov. 30-Dec. 7, 1952, against Pittsburgh and Washington. The Steelers' quarterback was Jim Finks, later the general manager in Minnesota, Chicago and New Orleans. The Giants lost to the Steelers, 63-7, the most lopsided defeat in the 87-year history of the franchise. The Redskins' quarterback was Eddie LaBaron, who was a four-time Pro Bowler.
*The Saints and Packers threw for 372 and 360 net yards, respectively. It is the first time in Giants history they allowed at least 360 passing yards in consecutive games. This is also the first time Giants opponents have had at least 29 first downs in consecutive games.
*In those same two games, the Giants threw for 406 and 347 yards, the first time they had that many passing yards in back-to-back games since Oct. 6-13, 1985, against Dallas and Cincinnati.
*The Giants averaged an impressive 5.0 yards per carry in their loss Sunday to Green Bay. But their longest run was 14 yards. This is the first time since Oct. 22-Nov. 4, 2001 they have played three consecutive games without a rushing attempt of at least 15 yards.
*Giants opponents have returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season, the highest total since 2007. That year, all three scoring picks occurred in the same game, a 41-17 loss to Minnesota.
*The Giants' loss to Green Bay was their first this season in which they rushed for at least 100 yards. They had won their first four games in which they reached triple digits in the running game.
Join other diehard Giants Fans! Follow @Giants
Also be sure to Like the Giants on Facebook
Add us to your Google Plus Circle
Download the FREE GIANTS MOBILE APP by texting "Giants" to 51288 or by visiting iTunes, Android MarketPlace, Blackberry App World! *