By Paul Dottino
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The quality of play makes it look as though the Giants thought there were six weeks in the preseason, like they used to have in the early 1970s.
At least the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning put forth a deserving performance in their 41-23 victory at MetLife Stadium.
So the Giants have fallen to 0-2. Over the past four NFL seasons, 30 teams have started 0-2. None went to the postseason.
OK, so the 2007 Giants won the Super Bowl, but that was before parity continued to water down the league.
The best news for coach Tom Coughlin is that all four NFC East teams lost, leaving Dallas and Philadelphia tied for first place at 1-1.
There were very few individual performances to point out, so for the first time we’re going to select some units in our following segment because this was a collective effort.
Offense: WR Victor Cruz — He produced a 100-yard game for the second straight week. Cruz electrified the crowd on the Giants’ first snap with a 51-yard grab on a post pattern. He also caught passes of 13 and 10 yards on a third-quarter touchdown drive that brought the Giants within one at 17-16. Cruz had eight receptions for 118 yards on a team-leading 11 targets.
Defense: Secondary — They did a very solid job, considering the lack of pass rush and the weaponry that Peyton Manning had at his disposal. For the second week in a row, the Giants allowed only two passes of at least 20 yards in the game — a 36-yard completion to Andre Caldwell in the first quarter and a 20-yard hit to Wes Welker in the second quarter. Manning settled for the short game and was 30-of-45 for 307 yards and two TDs.
Special teams: PK Josh Brown — He drilled his three field-goal attempts from 36, 24 and 41, and Tridon Holliday returned just two of Brown’s six kickoffs for a total of 34 yards.
Offense: Offensive line — Eli Manning was under pressure all day (despite only getting sacked once) and the running game was held to an embarrassing 23 yards on 19 carries. The return of center David Baas (knee) to the starting lineup, which allowed Kevin Boothe to return to left guard, apparently did nothing to help a line which has struggled since the preseason. Brandon Jacobs was able to force his way into the end zone from the 1 for a third-quarter touchdown, but he carried for 1 and 0 yards on his previous carries after a first-and-goal from the 4 because there was NO ROOM. Denver was flagged twice on this series, allowing the Giants multiple opportunities to punch it in.
Defense: Pass rush — The defensive ends and whoever defensive coordinator Perry Fewell sends on a blitz are welcome to join them for wind sprints. The Giants did not do nearly enough to interrupt Peyton Manning’s rhythm. They did not register a sack and failed on their closest opportunity — Mathias Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins missed Manning on the same rush late in the first quarter. Jason Pierre-Paul said he was terrible in the opener, so he could not feel much better about this one, although he’s still got to be scraping off some rust after back surgery.
Special teams: P Steve Weatherford — In one of his worst games since he joined the Giants, he was unable to place the ball where he wanted with his usual precision. To make matters worse, his bounced punt was taken 81 yards for a touchdown by Holliday in the fourth quarter to make it 38-16. The returner was able to elude Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich and Zak DeOssie on his way to the end zone.
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