Eli, Special Teams, Second Teamers Struggle in 17-3 Loss: Despite statistically out-playing their crosstown rival in the first half of the game, the Giants fell 17-3 to the Jets on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
“We did some decent things in the first half,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “The two interceptions and the long kickoff return but our defense played solid football. The turnover thing hurt us and the kick returns hurt us. We mishandled some punts tonight which we really haven’t been doing and that’s unfortunate. We got stopped on the goal line and obviously that was very, very unfortunate.
“We didn’t play very well with our twos at all. I didn’t think they played well at all and they are getting as many reps as everybody else. There has to be some improvement there no doubt. I thought we had some real chances and didn’t finish anything obviously offensively but we have some work to do no doubt. There were some positives in the first half and a lot of yards but no points.”
The Giants out-gained the Jets 224 to 73 in net offensive yards in the first half, but two drives ended with interceptions. And the Jets’ only score of the first half occurred after the Giants allowed a 68-yard kickoff return, setting the Jets up at the Giants’ 35-yard line.
The Giants had seven offensive possessions in the first half. On the opening drive, the Giants moved from their own 23-yard line to the Jets’ 27-yard line. Big plays included a 21-yard pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Hakeem Nicks and a bruising 3-yard run by HB Brandon Jacobs on 4th-and-1. But on 2nd-and-10, an errant Manning pass intended for WR Victor Cruz was intercepted.
“The first (interception) was a blitz and we didn’t get a sight adjustment by either the tight end or the Z,” said Coughlin. “Unfortunately there was no time for (Eli) to do anything about it and he threw the ball and it was picked off…The only thing he could do is throw the ball into the ground or near somebody or just take it down. When it is a pressure situation like that, where you are being blitzed, you have an issue and it is very difficult because it’s strictly a timing thing. The receiver is supposed to make a break. The quarterback is supposed to be confident in where they are going to be. They blew it, they didn’t make the proper break and he threw the ball because he was about to go down.”
“I just put a little too much mustard on it,” said Manning. “Tried to lead it out in front and just overthrew (Cruz), just by a touch. Those are some of the things we need to clean up and just get on the same page…We did a lot of good things tonight. I thought we moved the ball well. I thought guys made some plays. There are just enough things that are keeping us from finishing drives and putting points on the board. It’s just little things, but those things can add up. That’s what we have to continue to work on and get better on. That’s what preseason is for, to learn those. You have new guys in there, but we can work all of that out.”
The Giants also drove to the Jets’ 34-yard line on their next possession, the big play being a 21-yard pass to TE Jake Ballard. However, the drive stalled and the Giants were forced to punt. On the Giants’ next drive, a couple of good gains by HB D.J. Ware (an 11-yard run and a 15-yard reception) moved the ball into Jets’ territory again, but again the drive stalled and another punt. The Giants went three-and-out on their fourth possession.
On the Giants’ fifth drive, after a 14-yard pass to Nicks and two runs by Ware, Manning threw into double-coverage on 3rd-and-2 and was picked off. “That one’s on me,” said Manning, who completed 15-of-30 passes for 200 yards. “Just have to throw it away, make a better decision right there.”
The Giants did manage to take a 3-0 lead in the second quarter when the starters drove from their own 39 to the Jets’ 13-yard line. HB Ahmad Bradshaw caught a 29-yard pass on 3rd-and-7 and Nicks caught a 16-yard pass on 2nd-and-15. But the Giants were forced to settle for a 34-yard field goal.
Late in the first half, the Giants moved from their own 4-yard line to across midfield, but time expired before the Giants could put any points on the board. The Giants did miss a chance for a touchdown, however, when Manning overthrew, WR Mario Manningham on what could have been an 84-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Giants’ defense did a number on the Jets until the end of the first half. The Jets only gained two first downs on their first six possessions of the game. LB Clint Sintim also recovered a fumble by QB Mark Sanchez. However, the defense could not make a play after the Jets’ returned a kickoff to the Giants’ 35-yard line. Six plays later, Sanchez hit WR Santonio Holmes for a 17-yard score against CB Corey Webster.
“Once we get to game planning a team like we will, watching them, for that first game, you’ll see us really get a whole lot more comfortable with our schemes, and fly around,” said DE Justin Tuck. “That’s the only thing I ask from my defenses, no matter what the call is, just make sure you’re running fast and I think in preseason we’ve done that.”
At the half, the Jets led 7-3.
It was a poor game for the Giants’ special teams. Aside from the long kickoff return that set up the Jets’ first score, the returners had problems securing the football. WR Jerrel Jernigan fumbled the ball three times on punt returns (two muffs) as did WR Devin Thomas on one kickoff return. The Giants also had a 42-yard field goal blocked.
“It’s important to keep in mind it’s the preseason,” said Zak DeOssie. “We have the young kids out there and we’re trying to learn it. It’s the preseason and we have to learn from it. The way we played last week and the way we played this week, it’s up and down and we have to be more consistent than that.”
In the second half, the first-team offense of the Jets moved the ball well against the Giants’ first-team defense, down to the Giants’ 35-yard line, until an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Jets bailed out the defense. The Giants’ first-team offense then moved the ball 69 yards on the second-team defense of the Jets, but was embarrassingly stuffed on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The Giants’ first-team defense stayed in for one series against the second-team offense of the Jets. After that, with 5 minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter, both teams heavily employed their second-teamers. Neither the Giants’ offense nor defense played well in the remaining 20 minutes. The Jets gained 122 yards on their final two drives while the Giants only managed 34 yards on their final three drives.
Post-Game Injury Report: DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka suffered a mild groin strain. DE Justin Tuck suffered a burner. “I got a little burner and I’m fine,” said Tuck.
Article on LB Jonathan Goff: Giants LB Jonathan Goff Passing Test as Man in the Middle by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger