Eli Manning is looking to overcome last weeks game in Dallas and shine in the home opener:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.– Eli Manning has seen this show before. The Giants' longtime quarterback has lost season openers before. The team's 19-3 loss in Dallas Sunday night dropped his record on Kickoff Weekend to 5-8.
And this was not the first time the Manning-led Giants have struggled to score points. He started his 200th consecutive regular-season game against the Cowboys. The loss was the 13th time the Giants scored in single digits.
If Manning has learned anything in his 14-year career, it's that one game does not a season make.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish in the NFL," Manning said. "I think that's an important lesson."
There's another truism about the NFL – nothing is guaranteed. While it's true a great finish will eviscerate the memory of a poor start, it's not ordained to happen. The Giants will be the first to say that three points, 35 rushing yards, and four successful third-down conversions are not acceptable. The offense simply must be more productive when the Giants face the Detroit Lions in their home opener Monday night.
"We just have to execute," Manning said. "Execute a little bit better. Just convert on some third downs, get into a rhythm early, so that'll be the key.
"In the first game, we didn't do well. It's part of losing a game. You're going to analyze and you can't get too sensitive after the first game. You're going to get coached up and there's things we can clean up, for sure, but you can't get defensive, can't get sensitive. You just have to be confident in what you're doing, understand what you need to fix and then go play fast."
Much of the scrutiny for the disappointment in Dallas was placed on the offensive line. None of the criticism is internal, but the linemen are aware of what's being said after the Giants averaged 2.9 yards a carry and Manning was sacked three times.
"I mean, it is in our face," left guard Justin Pugh said. "Every time I turn around, somebody is asking us what is wrong with the O-line.
"At the end of the day, the people that are making the decisions are the people that are paid to know football. They are the ones that are putting us out there, right? So the people that are just going to watch on TV and want to make assumptions, that's a whole other story. We got to go out there and keep handling our business and keep our nose to the grindstone. We can't worry about the outside noise, because we have games to win and we have to get ready for Detroit."
Left tackle Ereck Flowers said, "Overall, everything, I mean everything, can be improved from last week. … I think it's more urgency to go out there and do what we got to do."
Manning has always been quick to praise his linemen after games good and bad, and he's not about to change his approach now.
"Offensive line - they're going to do their job, so everybody just needs to step up their game a little bit," Manning said. "We don't have to go recreate anything. We just have to execute, play better football.
"I think the good thing about our offensive line is these guys have been together for, now, three or four years – a majority of them. Same offense. They should be on the same page. Should be able to go out there and play fast and be positive with what we're doing."
Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Lions
"I know the kind of character of our guys," Pugh said. "We are going to go out there, we are going to keep working, we are going to get better, and we are going to let our play dictate."
But the unit has concerns about one of its members this week. Right tackle Bobby Hart injured his ankle on what he said was the fifth or sixth play of the game in Dallas.
"You don't really want to come out in that situation," Hart said. "Just shake everything, so you can try to do everything you can to give it up for the team."
Asked if he'll be "alright for Monday," Hart said, "Yeah. I am day to day, just getting better.
Just following what the trainers tell me. Just doing everything I can so I can get ready."
Which is what his teammates will do in practice this week as they set their sights on the Lions.
"We can hopefully only get better from that first game and that's the mindset," Manning said. "Just have a great week of practice, preparation, go out there, play confident in what we're doing.
"There's 16 other teams who are 0-1 right now, so everybody had to lose that first game. We just have to bounce back."