EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — This is Jeff Rutledge's ninth season as an NFL quarterback. But until Sunday night, when he led the Giants to a 17-10 victory over the New England Patriots, he had never won a game as a starter.
Rutledge started the Giants' third and final non-union game this season, a 6-3 loss to Buffalo. Before that, the one-time Ram hadn't started a game since 1983.
The former Alabama star was traded to the Giants in 1982 after spending three seasons with the Rams.
Sunday night, his two second-quarter touchdown passes and an interception by linebacker Lawrence Taylor at the New York 15 with 1:09 to play gave the Giants a 2-6 record.
Rutledge, subbing for the injured Phil Simms, threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Mark Bavaro and connected with fullback George Adams on a 9-yard touchdown pass during a 3:01 span.
"I've been in this league for nine years and this is the first time I've ever won a game I started," said Rutledge, who's had five other starts with New York. "I have to give credit to my offensive line, they probably played the best game they played all year. This was fun."
The Patriots almost took the fun out of the game in the final two minutes, when they took over the ball at the New York 30 following a punt and moved to the 17. However, on first-and-10, Steve Grogan went back to pass and threw the ball right to Taylor, ending the Patriot chances.
"I'd been rushing most of the night and was getting pretty banged up getting doubled," Taylor said. "We went to the sidelines and decided to change it and have Carl (Banks) rush with me covering the tight end. I found myself in the middle and the ball just kind of floated into my hands. The hard part was catching it."
Grogan was under a severe rush by George Martin on the play and was hit just as he released the ball.
"(Cedric) Jones had his man beat," said Grogan. "I saw Taylor standing there. I tried to throw it in. I gambled and lost."