The Giants entered their facilities Monday still in a fog over what happened the previous day in a stunning loss to the Seahawks.
Gone is all the good will, with after their three-game winning streak snapped in the most ungraceful of manners. Offensively, in the passing game at least, the numbers were staggering. Quarterback Eli Manning threw for 420 yards and three scores and wideout Victor Cruz snared eight catches for a career-high 161 yards and a touchdown. Yet, the only things the critics are noticing are Manning’s three picks, including the game-clinching 94-yard touchdown return off a Cruz bobble, and other Cruz miscues, including a lost fumble.
Manning was still lamenting the lost opportunities yesterday.
“You can’t make mistakes. They hurt you. We didn’t play as well as we needed to,” said Manning. “At times we did good and we had good fight. We responded in the fourth quarter and made some big plays [but] we just can’t afford to be down and have to come back.”
The three comebacks prior to Sunday’s loss were mostly due to clutch play from Manning and the no-huddle offense. The Giants successfully used the no-huddle offense on two drives Sunday, including a touchdown to Hakeem Nicks just before the half, but Manning bristled at the notion of installing the uptempo pace regularly.
“We did it for two other drives in the middle of the game [and] it didn’t work for us,” Manning said. “You always want to have it when you need it.”
According to Manning, the bottom line is that the offense needs more balance. The running game was again anemic, as the leading rusher was Ahmad Bradshaw with a meager 58 yards. Backfield mate Brandon Jacobs (knee) was inactive, but that doesn’t excuse the overall poor execution of the rushing attack.
“We played poorly and when you don’t deserve to win you don’t win,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “We didn’t complement each other at all yesterday. I think we have to do a better job with our execution and do a better job scheme-wise, finding a way to handle the two weeks in a row that the safeties have been down [in the box].”
Coughlin added the main problem with the running game might be the overall health of the guys trying to pave the way. While he praised backup linemen like Jim Cordle and Kevin Boothe, who filled in for center David Baas (neck) and right guard Chris Snee (concussion), Coughlin said Big Blue will need to get back on the same page offensively — injuries or not.
The Giants rank 30th in the NFL with a 3.2 yards-per-carry average, which effects what Manning does best — the play-action pass. Without the threat of the run teams will continue to take away one dimension of the offense, Coughlin said.
Coughlin said they will not abandon the run as easily as it seemed on Sunday.
“We are just going to keep hammering away at it because that is, philosophically, what I hold to,” Coughlin said. “If you hit a couple of play-action passes, you’re going to start that guessing game. [And] once the play-action passing game gets going, opposing safeties tend to struggle with positioning.”
Big Blue notes
» The Seahawks, the NFL’s 29th-ranked offense, put up 424 yards and 29 points on the Giants. It doesn’t get any easier for Big Blue, as still to come on the Giants’ schedule are the Patriots (ranked 1st), Saints (2nd), Eagles (3rd), Packers (4th), Cowboys (6th) and next Sunday’s opponent the Bills (10th).
» Coughlin steadily praised Cordle, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, but was pressed into immediate action at right guard, center and long snapper in Sunday’s loss. Cordle hadn’t handled the long snapper position since high school, but started working at it on the advice of former Giants center and backup long snapper Shaun O’Hara, who used the role to secure a roster spot in 2004.
Even though Cordle can handle center duties, the Giants said Boothe will continue to be the primary backup to Baas for as long as he’s out. When Snee left the game with a head injury in the fourth quarter, Cordle originally was asked by Boothe if he wanted to handle the snapping duties instead. Cordle obliged, but was moved back to Snee’s spot after just one play at center. Nothing against Cordle, insisted offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, but he’d rather have “Eli [Manning] continue working with Boothe.”
Boothe has played unevenly so it’s imperative Baas comes back quickly. Baas said it was a “good decision” to miss Sunday’s game and insists this is the best he’s felt “in a couple of weeks.” He’ll be evaluated each day this week and added he’s looking forward to playing this Sunday. No decision has been made on his status and probably won’t be made until Wednesday’s initial injury report comes out.
Snee was released from a local hospital following overnight observation yesterday and was immediately sent home to rest. Long snapper Zak DeOssie (concussion) was also sent home to rest early yesterday.
»Rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who is on injured reserve for a torn pectoral muscle, is finally out of his sling and has been attending defensive meetings while continuing to rehab. Austin hasn’t been lifting weights with both arms, so he’s still a ways from major physical activity, but said the injury is “healing faster than I thought it would,” so the time to do some heavy lifting is coming soon.
»Sticking with injuries, the last thing the Giants need during this period of uncertainty is in-house dysfunction. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet, but they certainly didn’t account for ex-Giants to pile on the injured. Former Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce was very critical of former teammate Justin Tuck (neck/groin) because the defensive end didn’t suit up Sunday. Pierce told ESPN radio that leaders like Tuck and Jacobs (knee) need to be out there, regardless: “If you don’t have an injury that needs surgery, you need to be out there.”
The mild-mannered Tuck responded: “Tell Antonio he knows my cell phone number if he has anything to say to me about the way I play the game.”
For some unknown reason former teammates have taken turns in recent weeks telling Tuck and others how they should play through pain. The Pierce-Tuck tête-à-tête follows a mini-storm three weeks ago when former Giants great Michael Strahan criticized Tuck when neck pain forced Tuck to the sidelines during their win in Philadelphia. Said Strahan via Twitter: “I luv u @JustinTuckNY. But unless u R missing a limb U need 2 B in this game. Everytime the Eagles R inside Giants 40 u need 2 B out there.”
Inside the Giants organization, nobody is questioning Tuck’s toughness or desire to return to the field. And many have said publicly and privately that no one has a right to question how hurt a player actually is. ??
“Being someone who’s been on IR before, multiple times, you can’t comment on somebody else’s injuries,” said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who spent most of last season on injured reserve with a neck injury. “[Tuck] could roll out with half a groin and come back with nothing. Health-wise he needs to do what’s best for him and his family to protect himself …Would we love to have him? Absolutely. Maybe there are other guys who would’ve gone out there in the condition he’s in, but you can’t sit on the outside and say that he should be out there because you’re not in his body and you don’t know how he’s feeling.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.