EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Losing the first two games of the season is nothing new to the New York Giants.
They started 0-2 in the 2007 season and won the Super Bowl.
The Giants are in the same hole after a 41-23 loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (2-0) on Sunday.
This Giants’ team is different is many ways.
While Eli Manning is still the quarterback for Tom Coughlin, there are questions about the offensive line, the running backs and what has become a bad habit of turning the ball over.
“I could stand up here and be fiery if that’s what everybody wants,” Coughlin said. “But there’s a little bit of a hole in my stomach right now, too. I’m greatly disappointed. We have 14 games to go. We have been 0-2 before. We dug ourselves into a hole before and been able to fight our way out of it.”
If it doesn’t change, there isn’t going to be a repeat of 2007. Instead it will be another year out of the playoffs.
“We’ll see what kind of team we have and what kind of fight we have,” said guard Chris Snee, who was a member of the ’07 champions.
“The important thing is just to be thick-skinned (Monday), take a look at the tape and realize we have a tough Carolina team next week that’s in the same situation we are,” Snee added. “That, and we have 14 games to go.”
The Giants have a lot to correct. They have given up 77 points in two games and turned the ball over 10 times.
The running game has 73 yards total in the losses to Dallas and the Broncos.
“We’ve got 14 more games,” defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “The season is still a long season. And a lot of great things can happen if we approach it the right way, and a lot of bad things can happen if we don’t. But this team is better than 0-2.”
Tuck doesn’t want the Giants to take relief knowing they overcame an 0-2 start recently. He wants them to focus on what they did to overcome that start.
“What we did was have leadership step up and we had leadership say we are going to work every play and spend extra time in the film room,” Tuck said.
“If someone is hurt they get in the training room and if somebody is not playing to their ability there will be someone in their face telling them you need to step it up. We have to challenge each other. That is what this is about.”
The Giants didn’t play poorly against the Broncos, they didn’t make as many plays and didn’t capitalize in the rare situations when the Broncos gave them a chance.
That’s why big brother Peyton got the better of his kid sibling for the third time in as many games. He also had lots of help from Denver’s one-man ground game.
After throwing a record-tying seven touchdown passes in the season opener, Peyton settled for two against the Giants. Knowshon Moreno also ran for two touchdowns and 93 yards on just 13 carries as Denver won its 13th straight regular-season game.
With Manning finding Wes Welker and Julius Thomas for touchdowns, and Moreno scoring on sprints down the right side of 20 and 25 yards, Denver dominated much of the matchup between Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks; Eli has won two titles, Peyton one.
After the rout, the brothers shared a very short handshake while surrounded by a mob of photographers and TV cameras.
Eli Manning was picked off four times. He was intercepted 15 times all of last season. And the Giants also allowed Trindon Holliday’s spectacular 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first such score in the league this season.
“Our punting game was not up to standards tonight,” Coughlin said. “We had talked all week about not punting the ball down the middle of the field, and that’s pretty much all it was, down the middle of the field. The last one, which was a poorly punted ball, really rose up to bite us in the tail.”
Peyton, who became the third player with more than 60,000 yards passing on Denver’s opening drive, connected with a wide-open Welker for a 2-yard score that gave the Broncos a 17-9 lead.
But Eli took New York 81 yards in response, although the drive was built more on Broncos blunders — four penalties, including two for pass interference — than anything else.
Moreno keyed Denver’s next offensive series, when he again surged around the right end to almost duplicate his earlier 20-yard scoring run with a 25-yarder.
Considered a backup heading into the season, Moreno was most of the running game for the Broncos on Sunday.
Peyton also hit Thomas for an 11-yard score as Denver pulled away in the second half after leading 10-9 at halftime. Da’Rel Scott took a short pass 23 yards for a TD for New York to conclude the Giants’ scoring.
Josh Brown kicked field goals of 36, 24 and 41 yards for New York, which was in the game until a fluky fourth-quarter interception by Chris Harris off the foot of teammate Tony Carter set up Manning’s TD pass to Thomas for a 31-16 lead.
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