Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images
Rashad Jennings waited patiently behind Eli Manning as the quarterback read the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. Manning shouted out signals, made adjustments and aligned everyone just right.
With every word Manning uttered, Jennings listened intently. He knew Manning knew exactly what to do. He knew Manning saw something.
“He made sure we were in the right play,” Jennings said.
The ball was snapped, guard Geoff Schwartz sealed a defender to the left, center J.D. Walton another to the right, a running lane appeared and Jennings darted through.
The rest? Well, that was easy.
“The rest was just a race,” Jennings said.
New York’s prized free-agent acquisition darted 73 yards through the gaping hole for a touchdown, highlighting New York’s 20-16 victory over the Steelers on Saturday night in East Rutherford.
“This is the beginning,” Jennings said. “We are still learning and growing and have a lot of stuff that we need to make sure we take care of, myself included. We are happy where we are at, but we are not satisfied.”
Jennings’ touchdown run highlighted an otherwise dismal performance from the Giants’ starting offense. Playing in front of their fans for the first time this season, the team never got into a rhythm, only picking up one first down all four possessions they were on the field.
Aside from Jennings 73-yard run, the Giants’ starting offense netted only eight measly yards (five of which came from a penalty). Wide receiver Victor Cruz went catch-less and Manning failed to complete a pass on his only two attempts. Taking into consideration the team’s Hall of Fame game against the Buffalo Bills, Manning has yet to have pass travel more than 10 yards in the air.
“I think we’ll try to learn from this and understand that it’s just the preseason,” Manning said. “Not everything is going to be perfect, but we’ll definitely have some stuff to look at and to get better on a few things.”
Following Manning, second-year pro Ryan Nassib entered. The Syracuse alum finished 12-of-21 for 81 yards and led the team on a pair of field goal drives. But a costly error nearly cost the Giants the game.
With the Giants leading, 13-9, Nassib attempted to hit Michael Cox out of the backfield on a swing route. Cox missed the pass, which traveled behind the line of scrimmage, and Howard Jones scooped it up and returned it for a 28-yard touchdown. After the referees looked at the replay, it was determined the backwards pass was a lateral.
“You play those plays out and let the officials sort it out,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s what he did and hopefully that’s what we’re doing in those circumstances always.”
While the mistake put the Giants down, it didn’t rule the team out. Instead, it was just another dose of Corey Washington dramatics. After catching a 73-yard, game-winning touchdown last week in Canton, it was Washington who the Giants went to again with the game on the line.
Facing a third-and-goal at the Steelers three, quarterback Curtis Painter threw a fade to Washington. The undrafted rookie went up and came down with the ball, putting the Giants on top for good.
“I’m 6-4, tall and lanky,” Washington said. “I can go up and get the ball. That helps against smaller corners. It can be big for the team this year.”
The Giants (2-0) will have Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday. The team travels to Indianapolis to take on the Colts (0-1) this Saturday.
Giants-Steelers Game Highlights: Video highlights from Saturday’s Giants-Steelers game are available at NFL.com.
Tom Coughlin Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference on Saturday night are available at Giants.com.
New York Giants Post-Game Player Media Sessions: Transcripts and video clips of the post-game media Q&As on Saturday night with the following players are available at Giants.com:
Post-Game Notes: Fullback John Conner may have suffered a concussion on the game’s last play. He will undergo further tests.
Not playing for the Giants in the game were: wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and Trindon Holliday (hamstring), tight ends Daniel Fells (knee) and Xavier Grimble (hamstring), linebacker Jon Beason (foot), tackle Will Beatty (leg), running back Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), cornerback Trumaine McBride (hip), and defensive linemen Mike Patterson (shoulder) and Kelcy Quarles (ankle).