EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Aaron Ross has been a cornerback since he played high school football in Tyler, Texas, but he had never seen anything like the play he made – or, more precisely, didn't make – Sunday night in MetLife Stadium.
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Late in the first quarter, Ross was in perfect position to intercept an Andrew Luck pass at the Giants' five-yard line. But instead of securing the ball, Ross became a juggler, batting the ball up and back into the end zone, where Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne also batted it before securing it for a 28-yard touchdown. It was one of Luck's two scoring passes in the Colts' 20-12 victory over the Giants.
"I've never seen that," Ross said. "I've never seen that happen before. Never.
"I knew it was a pick. I saw it leave his hands and then as soon as I looked up, the lights just took the ball away. I couldn't see anymore and that's what kind of made me fall. I was ready to make an easy catch, easy, easy catch, and I couldn't find it anymore. As soon as I fell back, it hit my hands and it kind of shocked me. So it just popped up and I turned around and Reggie was catching the ball. One of those plays you can't get back."
Ross' helmet is equipped with a tinted visor in practice, but only players who medically require them can keep them for games. Since he played at the University of Texas, Ross has worn tinted contacts in games. But he didn't wear them on Sunday.
"I usually put the contacts in to block the sun or the (stadium) lights," Ross said. "Mainly when I'm catching punts for the lights. I just didn't put them in."
That won't happen again.
"I'll be wearing them," Ross said. "I've never been in a situation like this. It's one of those freakish plays. It's one of those plays that you want to happen in the preseason and not the regular season. The only thing I can take out of that is I have to wear a little eye black or go get the little vision contacts to put in so the lights can't blind me."
TWO MINUTE DRILL
>> The Giants did not score a touchdown. All of their points came via Josh Brown field goals of 25, 27, 45 and 47 yards. Giants quarterbacks Eli Manning, David Carr and Ryan Nassib were sacked six times, and the Giants committed 10 penalties for 96 yards.
"I'm disappointed tonight, we didn't make any plays," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "Might have made one or two, but certainly nowhere near enough. We had many opportunities and then didn't come away with anything."
One of the penalties was Coughlin's. He was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with three seconds remaining in the second quarter. The 15-yard infraction forced Brown to attempt a field goal from 45 yards instead of 30. He made the kick, his third three-pointer of the half. Coughlin ran onto the field to speak with referee Ed Hochuli before heading to the halftime locker room.
"Too many penalties tonight, starting with mine, which was foolish," Coughlin said. "I'm taking full responsibility for that, I was wrong. The situation that occurred, I was out on the field too many times, they warned me about that. But in that situation, you're told by the officials to go ahead and come down if you need to take a timeout when the clock is running out, but that didn't happen. I guess they threw the flag as far as me leaving the bench area, so I take responsibility for that. I was wrong."
>> David Wilson and Andre Brown each had eight rushing attempts. Wilson ran for 34 yards, Brown for 36….Ramses Barden led the Giants with four receptions for 28 yards…Adewale Ojomo had a team-high five tackles, all unassisted…Justin Trattou had the Giants' only sack.
>> The Giants did not emerge from the game unscathed. Wide receiver Victor Cruz (bruised heel) and center David Baas (sprained knee) left the game early in the first quarter. Defensive end Justin Tuck later suffered a hamstring strain.
>> Coughlin said Cruz had jammed his heel and was sore. Asked if he had a sense the injury isn't serious. Coughlin said, "I don't know. He runs to make his living, he's obviously got an issue with the heel. Hopefully, it's not going to be a long (term) thing, but I really don't have the information to tell you if there's an exact medical position on that or whether, in fact, if he does have a sore heel, and they're going to continue to do some tests on him."
Coughlin said he had no postgame update on Baas. Regarding Tuck, Coughlin said, "All I've heard is a slight hamstring strain, but I'm sure we'll know more either later tonight or tomorrow morning."
>> Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and guard Chris Snee, neither of whom played in the preseason opener last week in Pittsburgh, started the game. Nicks caught a pair of 20-yard passes from Eli Manning. Each of them helped set up a Brown field goal.
"It felt good to just get the first preseason game under my belt," Nicks said. "I just want to keep getting better and keep going uphill."
Snee played the first two series at his familiar right guard position. He was replaced late in the first quarter by Brandon Mosley, who started last week.
"I felt good, just a step slow on everything," said Snee, who had offseason hip surgery. "But I think that's another reason why I said it was important for me to come out and play these games. Clearly tonight was proof as to why I should. The most important thing was that I felt good, the hip felt good, and I just need to get my timing down and get used to the speed of the game."
>> The Giants had several new starters on defense. With Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle inactive, Ross started at left cornerback and Ryan Mundy at strong safety. Dan Connor got the start at middle linebacker and had three solo tackles. The player he is competing with, Mark Herzlich, who started last week, played the second half and had four tackles. "It's very competitive," Coughlin said. "We flipped it around and just wanted to see (Connor) him operate with the ones."
Tuck, who also missed the Steelers game, and right end Mathias Kiwanuka switched sides for the opening snap. On the second play, right tackle Cullen Jenkins and Kiwanuka switched positions, an indication of the versatility on the Giants' defensive front.
>> Tight end Larry Donnell, who left practice Friday after suffering what appeared to be a potentially serious knee injury, played in the second half.
"I take my hat off to Larry Donnell," Coughlin said. "He hurt himself the other day in practice. I was afraid of the seriousness; he came back with the ligaments intact, but we thought he would be sore. He vowed that he wanted to play, he had the doctors and the trainers with him on the field this morning and he ran and went through a series of exercises and the medical people cleared him to play. So his attitude, really more than anything else, determined that he wanted to play and he did."
>> The following Giants did not play in the game: Wide receivers Brandon Collins (hamstring) and Jerrel Jernigan (hamstring); cornerbacks Corey Webster (soreness) and Terrell Thomas (knee); safeties Antrel Rolle (ankle) and Cooper Taylor (hamstring); running back Da'Rel Scott (shoulder); fullback Henry Hynoski (PUP/knee); guard Chris DeGeare (ankle); defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (PUP/knee); defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul (PUP/back) and Damontre Moore (shoulder).
>> The Giants' game captains were Baas, Spencer Paysinger and Zak DeOssie. Although he was not in uniform, former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw was one of Colts' players at midfield for the coin toss. A video tribute to Bradshaw was played on the large screens in the stadium during warmups.