A few words could accurately describe the start of the New York Giants’ preseason and none will make Tom Coughlin happy. Sloppy, lazy, and disorganized are all appropriate adjectives for Big Blue’s first true challenge, despite the fact that they beat the New York Jets, 31-16.
Their lack of preparation and carelessness was underlined when RB Brandon Jacobs ran into QB Eli Manning unexpectedly during a blown play. Manning was subsequently hit by Calvin Pace, whose impact knocked off the helmet of the Giants quarterback. As he was falling to the turf, Manning’s head made contact with the helmet of Jim Leonhard, resulting in a three inch gash on his forehead. Manning got up immediately and headed to the locker room under his own power.
After a three and out to start the ball game, which included a dropped pass by Ramses Barden, the Giants defense picked up their offense in a big way. New safety Antrel Rolle intercepted a deflected pass by Mark Sanchez and returned it to the one yard line.
Things got ugly from there. It took three tries by the 6’4 Jacobs to score a touchdown, making it 7-0 Giants. The Jets responded immediately with a 14 play, 63 yard drive concluded with a screen pass from Sanchez to Brad Smith for a touchdown. The Giants had only ten men on the field during that play, leaving Smith completely uncovered. Because of that inexcusable gaffe, most will ignore the Giants’ putrid run defense which led to multiple first downs during the drive.
After the Jets equaled the score, the Giants went three and out and then had Matt Dodge’s punt blocked by Eric Smith. The Giant defense held the Jets to a field goal, but only because of a holding penalty which negated a LaDainian Tomlinson touchdown run. The Jets took a 10-7 lead into the second quarter.
On the next drive, Manning had two big first down passes including a third down conversion to Hakeem Nicks and a 51 yard dump-off to Ahmad Bradshaw. Yet, this drive will only be remembered for the injury sustained by Manning, especially if it keeps him out of action for a substantial amount of time. Unceremoniously, Lawrence Tynes kicked a 32 yard field goal to tie the game.
After this point, the Giants took out their starters and the substitutes were taught a lesson by the Jets first team. After a few nice passes from Sanchez to Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets took the lead on Nick Folk’s second field goal, 13-10.
The Jets added to their lead on the first drive of the second half. Kellen Clemens hooked up with Santonio Holmes twice for first downs, setting up Folk’s third field goal, giving the Jets a 16-10 lead.
After Folk missed his fourth attempt, the Victor Cruz show began. Cruz caught two touchdown passes from Jim Sorgi and one from Rhett Bomar. He ended the night with six receptions for 145 yards leading the Giants to a 21 point second half and the victory.
Had it not been for Cruz’s heroics (if you can call it that playing against the Jets’ 2nd and 3rd string players), the Giants would not be able to chuckle after this one. The offensive line, though playing without Chris Snee and Rich Seubert, looked confused. Manning and Sorgi were hurried and hit throughout the course of the ball game. The running game was even worse. Bradshaw rushed for -1 yards on three carries while Jacobs ran for two yards on four carries.
Special teams were awful throughout. To go with the blocked punt, the Giants returned four kicks for an average of only a little over 18 yards per return. Dodge was inconsistent in his debut and the kickoff coverage was below average.
It is safe to say that the Giants defensive unit will get a tongue lashing from Coughlin when the team returns to practice on Wednesday for the brutal mistake in the first quarter. However, the Perry Fewell-led unit stood their ground for most of the night. They only gave up one touchdown, held the Jets to only two field goals in the second half, and forced three interceptions. The young defensive linemen performed admirably in their debuts. Jason Pierre-Paul recorded a sack and Linval Johnson stuffed a few runs.
As is the case after most preseason games, injures are a definite issue for the Giants. After Manning left the game, his teammate Chase Blackburn was carted off the field with an apparent knee injury. Later, Manning’s replacement, Sorgi, looked uncomfortable after taking a hit on one of his touchdown throws to Cruz. These injuries mean that the Giants’ training room will be even more crowded. Starters Snee, Seubert, TE Kevin Boss, WR Steve Smith, CB Corey Webster, MLB Keith Bullock, and S Kenny Phillips all did not play because of injury.
Despite strong play in the second half, the Giants coaching staff has got to be concerned with how the team played today. It is one thing to make physical mistakes, such as missing tackles and dropping passes, both of which the Giants did. However, the mental mistakes are the ones that are going to keep Coughlin awake at night and perhaps keep his star quarterback on the sidelines for quite some time.
About the Author
Written by Chris Ippolito
Grew up in Holmdel, NJ. Studied at Marist College. Worked as personal intern for hockey analyst and writer Stan Fischler of MSG network. Interned at MSG network for school credit during Fall of 2008. Worked as play by play broadcaster for the Danbury Westerners of the NECBL in summer of 2007. Passionate about baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. I mostly follow New York teams, but I pay attention to what goes on outside the tri-state area very closely. I feel as though I write so that people can both relate to and understand what they are reading. I am honest, but I also try and look at issues from different perspectives. I will do my best to both inform and entertain while contributing to this website.