By Paul Dottino
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Maybe the Giants ought to consider the game a success, given the way they’ve been riddled with injuries.
Their starters clearly had the edge in play against the Jets, who took a 7-3 lead into the fourth quarter and went on to a 17-3 preseason victory Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants’ first-unit defense played very well, specifically in the first half – the Jets gained 73 total yards on 25 plays. At the same time, the Giants’ offense rolled up 224 yards on 43 snaps – but two Eli Manning interceptions (the team’s first turnovers of the preseason) and a failed fourth down short-circuited three drives.
And did we mention the Giants’ special teams were horrible ? Rookie punt returner Jerrel Jernigan was charged with four fumbles, veteran kickoff returner Devin Thomas had a muff, Rhys Lloyd had a 42-yard field goal blocked and the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie scooted 68 yards with a second-quarter kickoff return.
Oh yes, the injuries. They didn’t appear to be serious. Justin Tuck suffered a burner to his left shoulder and Mathias Kiwanuka sustained a groin injury, but both players said they could have returned if this were a regular season game.
So let’s see how the Giants fared in the three things we told you to watch for:
*New nickel package. Upon initial inspection, this scheme passed the test with flying colors. Free safety Antrel Rolle moved into the slot when the Giants were faced with a three-wide set and performed a variety of functions, including as a blitzer.
He showed he remembered from his days as a corner how to stick to a receiver and play physical off the line. On the outside, Aaron Ross had another sensational game while helping to shut out Plaxico Burress, who had much difficulty creating space. Fellow corner Corey Webster also played well – he was with Santonio Holmes, but allowed the receiver to gain an inside edge on a short post for a 17-yard TD late in the second quarter.
*Best foot forward. Matt Dodge and Steve Weatherford continued to provide the best competition of the preseason. Each helped themselves in a different way.
Dodge was able to scoop a low snap and easily got off his first punt (whereas he might have gotten flustered last season), although it went 39 yards into the end zone. Weatherford was able to pooch a punt inside the 10, but the coverage team allowed it to roll backwards for a 27-yard net to the Jets 19.
*Power running game. The first-string line did an adequate job against the Jets’ rigid first-team defense until it collapsed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter.
Danny Ware had no room to run up the middle and was stopped short. Earlier in the drive, Brandon Jacobs – who has had a terrific preseason – was sprung for a 25-yard burst. However, four plays later Jacobs and Jets lineman Muhammad Wilkerson were ejected for getting into a skirmish.
What was the biggest positive coming from the Giants’ preseason loss? Let Dottino know in the comments below…