It's tough when you win by 28 and no one will be talking about your victory tomorrow.
The Giants won easily in their second preseason game, but the news coming out of it will be the loss of starting cornerback Terrell Thomas. Thomas tore his ACL in the second quarter and will likely miss the entire season.
“We’re very disappointed with the injuries that occurred,” said head coach Tom Coughlin after the game. “You extend the play time a little bit to take full advantage of the fact that we literally had no off-season and a very small preseason, very short preseason. So, we extended a little bit of play time tonight and we did have some guys that got nicked up.”
The last time the Giants and Bears played it was a beating like no other for the Bears, as Chicago quarterbacks were sacked 10 times, including nine against Jay Cutler.
The Giants didn’t bring the hammer like they did in that fateful Oct. 3 night, but still made life uncomfortable for the Bears signal caller. New York’s first team only saw action in the first half and held Chicago to 194 first-half yards but most of that came on just two plays that totaled 79 yards. Other than that, Big Blue’s defensive starters held down the fort, building a 20-6 halftime lead en route to a 41-13 win in the preseason home opener.
New York’s offense wasn’t as dominant as their defensive brethren. The first unit sputtered early and often. The Giants continued their maddening trend of three-and-outs by missing on its first two chances, extending its streak to seven consecutive failed third-down conversions. The Giants didn’t convert a third down until midway through the first quarter.
It’s been a bugaboo all preseason, as Eli Manning and his receiving corps have not made believers out of the faithful, yet that they can execute long-distance conversions. Lost in the third down ineptness was the non-existent play of the tight ends, as none were even targeted last night. Manning finished 8-of-16 for 78 yards, while the leading receiver was Mario Manningham (four yards for 39 yards).
The Giants’ stagnant offense wasn’t the biggest problem, however, as starting cornerback Terrell Thomas was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Thomas, who also tore an ACL in college, was in the final year of his contract. Somewhere Osi Umenyiora must’ve been glumly nodding his head, knowing his argument for the team needing to take care of its veterans is speaking for itself.
The loss of Thomas could be crushing for Big Blue, as they’ve now lost their starting corner for the season and their first-round pick, corner Prince Amukamara (foot), for the foreseeable future. That leaves unproven corners like Brian Witherspoon, Michael Coe and Derrick Martin – all who were on the fringe of making the roster – as players needing to make valuable contributions.
“We have to address it,” Coughlin said of the secondary. “We just have to make some decisions, whether or not there is anybody out there that we can bring in, and shuffle some guys around.”
Contract years haven’t been kind to the health of G-Men in the past 12 months, as Mathias Kiwanuka’s neck, Steve Smith’s knee and now Thomas’s knee can all attest. Preseason knee injuries as a whole haven’t been kind to Giants lore, as Thomas joins Umenyiora (2008), Jason Sehorn (1998) and Phil Simms (1982).
Coughlin added that the injuries are part of the game and became irritated when questions arose as to why starters were playing so deep into the half. Thomas was injured with less than a minute remaining in the opening half.
With a shortened week (Jets “at” Giants Saturday night), the Giants will undoubtedly be spending the week scouring the league’s waiver wires for suitable defensive back help.
What we saw
1. The biggest story was the saddest for Big Blue as cornerback Terrell Thomas suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter. The former USC star suffered the same injury in college. He will be lost for the season.
2. The Giants offense got off to another slow start, as they failed to convert a third down conversion until midway through the first quarter. The streak extended to 0-for-7 for the starters, who went 0-for-5 against the Carolina Panthers last week. Also lost in the overall third down ineptness has been the poor play from the tight ends on all the other downs. Not one tight end was even targeted in the first half, as it looks like that’ll be an ignored position in the passing game.
3. The defense kept up its domination of the Bears’ offense, as they yielded just six points in the first half. Other than a six-play, 81-yard drive late in the first half, the Bears’ starters did very little against Big Blue’s first team. Cutler, who was sacked once, went 12-of-21 for 171 yards, but 79 of those yards came on successive pass plays.
4. Special teams were very solid last night, including several nice returns from Devin Thomas (a 73-yard kickoff return) and a blocked punt by rookie standout Greg Jones. The linebacker blocked a punt, scooped up the ball and raced to the six yard line before fumbling. It was scooped up by fellow rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams who carried it into the end zone. Alas, the score was nullified by the rule stating a player who fumbles in the final minute of a half must be the only player to advance it. Nevertheless, it was great efforts like that by Big Blue’s special teams that brightened what was an otherwise murky first half.
Big Blue notes
» Maligned punter Matt Dodge was booed by the faithful upon his first appearance and then promptly boomed a 63-yard punt inside the Bears five yard line. Naturally, the finicky Giants fans then promptly cheered him.
» Linebacker Michael Boley, who was battling a sore back all week, made the start. He didn't make much of an impact (one tackle for a loss), but it was encouraging to see him out there.
» Paterson, N.J. native Victor Cruz started the game in the slot and made a clutch fourth down catch (4th-and-four from the Chicago 32) to set up the G-Men’s first points, a Rhys Lloyd 25-yard field goal.
» Kiwi moved to DE on obvious third down passing plays as part of the nickel package, which moved Aaron Ross to the nickelback – and not Deon Grant. Ross fared much better last night than in the opener in Carolina, defending two key third down passes. He’ll be needed in a larger role now that Thomas – and possibly Witherspoon– are out.
» Brandon Jacobs looked spry – well, as spry as a 265-pound running back can be. He finished with 48 yards on six carries, including a nimble 18-yard touchdown run in which he used his agility rather than brawn.
» Big Blue had a nice goal line stand on 4th-and-1 in the waning seconds of the third quarter. Jones, Grant, and defensive end Ayanga Okpokowuruk combined for the stop.
» Rookie running back Da’Rel Scott went 95 yards for the touchdown moments before the two-minute warning. Scott, a seventh-round pick from Maryland, has been a nice surprise for the Giants this preseason.
» Rookie cornerback Brian Witherspoon also appeared to injure his knee late and was carted off the field. X-rays showed a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL). He will undergo further tests later today to determine how long he will miss.
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