The Giants heard all week about how ragged their new offense has looked, but even when they finally answered the bell they still can’t find a way to win.
They dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener.
Big Blue opened the season with a clunker in Detroit, but looked to have bounced back on Sunday against a Cardinals squad that didn’t have starting quarterback Carson Palmer, who was deactivated with a bum shoulder. Drew Stanton got his fifth career start and was rather efficient in leading four scoring drives for a Cardinals (2-0) squad that didn’t have a breakout performer, but played a sound, tactical game.
What we learned …
1. Wasted opportunities
The Giants couldn’t get out of their own way at crucial segments of the game, leading to the defeat. It began with linebacker Jameel McClain erasing a sack by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul when the veteran committed a 15-yard personal foul when he hammered Stanton in the back despite the whistle being blown for a delay of game on Arizona. That – and an illegal contact penalty on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie two plays later – set up Jonathan Dwyer’s 1-yard touchdown. Usually sure-handed wideout Victor Cruz also had a few crucial drops on fourth quarter drives that could’ve extended Big Blue chances. Cornerback Zack Bowman missed the initial tackle on Ted Ginn Jr.’s 71-yard punt return for a touchdown despite the defensive back having both hands wrapped around Ginn’s legs. And running back Rashad Jennings fumbled at the Cardinals’ 14-yard line with just over four minutes remaining to essentially end the comeback attempt. The veteran running back caught a flare on the right side, slipped and fumbled while trying to get back to his feet. New York had one more chance after the fumble — and down by eight points — but did very little with that opportunity.
2. Getting better
Quarterback Eli Manning looked much improved in the new offense compared to the opening night debacle in Detroit. He went 26-of-39 for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Manning again had a multiple-interception game – his seventh-straight game with a pick and ninth in his last 10 games — but those were about the only blemishes on his afternoon. His first half was almost perfect, going 12-of-14 for 135 yards and a touchdown. The second interception was inconsequential as it came with 30 seconds remaining and the outcome already decided. Manning, who managed to spread the ball around to eight different receivers, was sharp for the most of the game, and even challenged — and bested — the Cardinals’ ace cover man, Patrick Peterson, on numerous occasions. The maligned quarterback, however, wasn’t helped by his receivers as he had more than a handful of drops to depreciate his performance.
3. Improved rush
The Giants’ pass rush was much improved, registering four sacks. Robert Ayers Jr. recorded his first sack as a Giant when he pulled down Stanton in the first quarter. Pierre-Paul had 1 1/2 sacks, Mathias Kiwanuka recorded the other half sack and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins added another sack, as Big Blue’s defense finally showed some fight.
Big Blue notes …
»Carson Palmer (shoulder) was deactivated and Drew Stanton got the start. It was Stanton’s fifth-career start.
»Cornerback Walter Thurmond injured his pectoral muscle in the fourth quarter and did not return.
»Linebacker Jon Beason also never returned once he suffered a toe injury in the second half.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.