In a game with more lowlights than highlights, Victor Cruz added to the latter reel with arguably his best performance of his budding career.
But there would be no celebration from the young receiver.
Known for his signature salsa dance after a big play, Cruz withheld himself following the 72-yard catch-and-go touchdown that modestly cut the Giants' deficit down to 18 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It was a sign of maturity for the undrafted wideout who didn't record a catch and spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve in 2010.
"We were losing and it just wasn't the right time," Cruz said. "As a professional, you kind of understand when to do it and when to gloat and when to celebrate excessively or something like that. We weren't winning, so I decided not to do it."
Cruz went on to catch a career-high nine balls in Monday night's 49-24 loss in New Orleans for 157 yards, four shy of a personal best (he had 161 against Seattle in Week 5). He found the end zone again later in the fourth quarter on a four-yard pass from Eli Manning. Still down by three possessions, the game was out of reach, but Cruz upped his touchdown total to seven and has 55 catches for 957 yards this season.
"They were playing a lot of man coverage, they were blitzing a lot," said Cruz, who has 90 yards or more in seven games. "Towards the end of the game, once they got a pretty good lead, they started to just sit back and play cover two. So we were using all of our cover two plays to kind of win against them. We were just doing everything we could to try to shorten up the scoreboard a little bit, but unfortunately we didn't come out with the win."
Of Manning's 406-yard night, 235 of them came in the second half, while Cruz had an even 100 after the break. Even though the passing game was starting to "cook a little bit," the Giants had already dug themselves too deep, eventually dropping out of the division lead with the undefeated Green Bay Packers coming to town.
"It's tough, but we have to understand that there's a lot more football to be played," Cruz said. "There is still a shot for us to do some good things this season. We can't get too down on ourselves because next week is another tough opponent and we have to be ready to play…We just have to play closer attention to detail. We have to go in and understand what we did wrong and make sure we make a conscious effort to clean up those things. We can't go in and expect things to just change themselves. We have to go out and understand there are some negatives are out there and we have to understand what those are and we have to correct them."
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