GIANTS STARTING OFFENSE FINALLY PLAYS WELL IN METLIFE BOWL, DEFEAT JETS 32-31
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Like so many NFL preseason games, the annual Giants-Jets MetLife Bowl Saturday night was a two-for-one special.
When the starters and key reserves played in the first two quarters, the Giants soared to a 29-3 halftime lead. In the second half, when many players who won’t make the regular-season roster got their turn, the Giants were outscored, 28-3. The Giants won, 32-31, when Jets rookie running back Elijah McGuire was stopped by several defenders on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:26 remaining in the game.
The Giants improved to 1-2 this month, and enjoyed celebrating their first victory. But more importantly were the numerous positive developments and performances the Giants can point to with their regular-season opener just two weeks way.
*After losing two games without scoring a touchdown, the Giants reached the end zone three times, two on interception returns by Landon Collins and Donte Deayon, and on Orleans Darkwa’s one-yard run. They also got field goals of 50 and 54 yards from Mike Nugent and 24 yards from Aldrick Rosas, and a safety when Jason Pierre-Paul tackled Matt Forte in the end zone.
*Eli Manning played only the first quarter – a shorter than normal stint for a third preseason game – and completed seven of 14 passes for 121 yards. He threw an interception on the Giants’ first series when he faced a heavy rush from Sheldon Richardson and his pass for wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. was picked off by Juston Burris.
The Giants played without four injured wide receivers – Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), Brandon Marshall (shoulder), Dwayne Harris (upper body), and Tavarres King (ankle).
“I think we’ve got some weapons and I thought (wide receiver) Sterling Shepard and (tight end) Evan (Engram) did a good job tonight,” Manning said. “Roger Lewis made some plays, (wide receiver) Travis Rudolph made some plays. Those guys have been here the whole time, been practicing, making plays in practice, and it showed up today in the game.”
*Manning was followed, in order, by Josh Johnson, Geno Smith and rookie Davis Webb, who combined to complete 11 of 20 passes for 138 yards.
*Rudolph, a rookie free agent from Florida State, joined Shepard and Lewis when the first-team offense deployed three receivers and led the team with three catches for 81 yards. That included a 57-yard catch-and-run from the Giants’ nine when he outjumped cornerback Darryl Roberts for the ball and ran for an additional 34 yards. The ball was thrown by Johnson.
“That’s just an effort play,” Rudolph said. “I feel like when the ball is in the air, it’s mine, so I have to go get it.”
“I thought he did some good things – he was productive,” McAdoo said of Rudolph’s performance. “I thought there were some contested balls that he should’ve came down with, but he made the most of his opportunity; he had a chance to shine, and he took advantage of it.”
*There was intrigue on the offensive line. When the Giants came out for their second offensive series, Brett Jones replaced John Jerry at right guard. Jerry had missed the block than enabled Richardson to pressure Manning. But McAdoo said the switch was planned prior to the game. D.J. Fluker later became the third right guard to work with the other starters. Jones later played center on the second line.
“We had a few guys we rotated in there with the first group on the offensive line (including rookie Chad Wheeler at left tackle),” McAdoo said. Asked if Jones has a chance to take Jerry’s job, McAdoo said, “We’re going to go back, we’re going to look at the film, and when we get to the first regular season game, we’re going to put the best group out there that we feel can help us win.”
Jones can play either guard positon, as well as center.
“That’s my job,” Jones said. “I have to be able to go in there and be able to go when I’m called upon. I’m excited for any opportunity to go in. It’s my chance to go in and my opportunity. I’m going to do the best that I can. It’s exciting.”
*In addition to the safety, Pierre-Paul had a sack. “I am just getting warmed up,” JPP said.
*Collins, who led the starters with four solo tackles, scored the easiest touchdown he’ll ever have when he stepped in front of tight end Eric Tomlinson, picked off Christian Hackenberg’s pass and ran 23 yards to the end zone.
“I kind of just baited him into it,” Collins said. “Just kind of sat back and triggered when I saw the ball release. My eyes got very big. I said, ‘Oh, it’s just me, ball and green grass.”
*Deayon, who was on the Giants’ practice squad for the first six weeks of the 2016 season, helped his bid to make the roster when he grabbed a Hackenberg pass that Janoris Jenkins tipped away from Robby Anderson and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
“I kind of bobbled it a little bit,” Deayon said. “I had to make sure I secured the catch first and then I took off running. I looked and saw that the quarterback wasn’t going to be able to catch me. I was just excited to get in the end zone.”
*Nugent, a 13-year veteran who is competing with Rosas, kicked two long field goals and followed each with a touchback, which he admitted was a best-case scenario for him.
“Especially in the preseason, when you want to try to get as much exposure as possible,” he said. “You don’t know what is going to happen when the time comes when the roster has to go down, so it’s good to be able to put some good kicks on film and try to be the same player every day.”
“He kicked the heck out of the football today,” McAdoo said. “He made a nice long one there for us on the 36-yard line – that’s big for us. Both kickers did a nice job today.”
*The Giants did not escape the game unscathed. Cornerback Eli Apple left the game with an ankle injury and defensive tackle Jay Bromley with a sprained knee. Running back Shaun Draughn suffered a concussion and neck injury, and defensive lineman Evan Schwan was carted off late in the game with a lower leg injury.
*McAdoo said Beckham and Marshall underwent treatment yesterday. Beckham did not watch the game from the sideline because the medical staff wanted him off his feet.
*The Giants’ game captains were Manning, Jonathan Casillas, Zak DeOssie, Damon Harrison, Shane Vereen and Kerry Wynn.
*In addition to the four wide receivers, three other Giants did not suit up for the game: linebackers Keenan Robinson (concussion) and Mark Herzlich (stinger), and cornerback Michael Hunter (concussion).
*The Giants have won two straight MetLife Bowls, but trail in the preseason series, 25-24-1.