Tom Coughlin did not play any of his 22 starters, as well as some key reserves, as the Giants overcame a 14-point deficit at the end of the third quarter to defeat the Patriots, 18-17, in Gillette Stadium. The Giants finished the preseason 2-2.
Tom Coughlin did not play any of his 22 starters, as well some key reserves, as the Giants overcame a 14-point deficit at the end of the third quarter to defeat the Patriots, 18-17, in Gillette Stadium. The Giants finished the preseason 2-2.
The coach would liked to have given his most important players some work – "Our offensive team could have used a good solid quarter," he said – but he did not want them on the field just 72 hours after they played the majority of the game against the Jets in MetLife Stadium. That game was postponed 48 hours because of Hurricane Irene. So stalwarts like Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Chris Snee, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty, Jonathan Goff, Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle were part of a 28-man contingent that either didn't make the trip (Lawrence Tynes, Mathias Kiwanuka) or never left the sideline.
Fifty-seven Giants participated in the pregame warm-ups. Those who did not play watched from the Giants bench area in full uniform, sans shoulder pads.
"Under the circumstances where we just played Monday night and the first group got in a bunch of plays, I understood the situation," Manning said. "We have to rest the body and get focused for Washington. We rooted on the guys out there, tried to help them and talked with them on the sidelines. Make sure everyone is performing at their best. This is where the fun starts. The preseason is over and the offense is healthy and ready to go. It should be a great atmosphere. They (Washington) are a talented team and we have a lot of preparation to do."
The starting offense Thursday included quarterback David Carr, Andre Brown at running back and Stacy Andrews, Chris White, Kevin Boothe, Mitch Petrus and Jamon Meredith left to right.
The first-year defense included Ayanga Okpokowuruk, Gabe Watson, Jimmy Kennedy and Alex Hall up front, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard and Spencer Paysinger at linebacker and Michael Coe, Brian Williams, Deon Grant and Tyler Sash in the secondary.
The Giants scored fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 65-yard run on a fake punt by rookie Da'Rel Scott, an 11-yard fumble return by safety Derrick Martin (and a two-point conversion pass from Ryan Perrilloux to Jerrel Jernigan). Rhys Lloyd kicked a 48-yard field goal and missed 49 and 48-yard attempts.
"I thought these young guys played hard," Coughlin said. "They did make a lot of errors, particularly in the first half, with the obvious turnovers, and what have you, but they kept playing. They played hard. We talked about that at the half and I was glad to see us finish – finish – the game."
New England scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a Steve Gostkwoski field goal.
The Giants pulled the game out with two big plays in the final quarter. Trailing 17-3, the Giants closed their deficit with a little trickery on the first play of the fourth quarter. They faced a fourth-and-two from their 35 when Matt Dodge came on to punt. But Zak DeOssie snapped the ball to Scott, the upback on the right side. Scott started running right before cutting back across the field. He reached the end zone without being touched.
The Giants talked about using the fake during the break between quarters. Scott made the final call when he lined up for the play.
"It was in the game plan to see how they were playing it," said Scott, who rushed for a game-high 114 yards on only 12 carries. "They had been playing six up, so we had'nt had a chance to do it. I told coach (special teams coordinator Tom Quinn), 'Let's do it.' I felt it would definitely work because of my speed. Before DeOssie snapped it, I knew it would be a big play."
Scott knew he was in the clear when he looked up at the stadium's huge end zone television screen and saw he was ahead of the field.
Coughlin does not often authorize gadget plays. Asked when he last used a fake punt, Coughlin said, "1971 or something like that. Out in the pasture, with 37 fans watching."
So why now?
"We practiced it and were ready to use it and it's always good to get something on film in preseason," he said. "You'd have to go back a ways to find me fake a punt, but I'm glad we did it, obviously."
The touchdown was the second of the preseason for Scott, the seventh-round draft choice from Maryland. But it wasn't Scott's longest run of the summer. He scored on a 97-yarder in a victory over the Bears on Aug. 22.
Later in the quarter, the Patriots took possession at their own 13 following a Giants punt. But on their first play, Brian Jackson forced rookie running back Richard Medlin to fumble. Martin scooped up the ball and made his way into the end zone for a defensive touchdown. Coughlin elected to go for two and the Giants got the points – and the lead – when Ryan Perrilloux threw a pass to Jerrel Jernigan.
The game began so poorly for the Giants, Devin Thomas returned three kickoffs in the first five minutes, due largely to two turnovers on their first six offensive plays. Those miscues resulted in early 10-0 deficit.
On the game's first play, Carr threw to the left side to Domenik Hixon, who was hit by linebacker Ron Ninkovich and fumbled after a 12-yard gain. The ball was recovered by Patrick Chung and returned 18 yards to the Giants' one. Coughlin challenged the ruling of a fumble, but referee Jeff Triplette upheld the call after a lengthy review. Green-Ellis ran to the left side and into the end zone on the Patriots' first snap. Twenty seconds into the game, the Giants trailed, 7-0.
Brown ran four times in a row to start the next drive. When Carr passed on the fifth play, underthrew Hixon and the ball was picked off at the New England 49 by Devin McCourty, returned it 18 yards to the Giants' 33.
The Patriots pick up 20 yards, but Tom Brady's third-down pass to Deion Branch fell incomplete and Gostowksi kicked a 31-yard field goal that increased the lead to 10-0.
Later in the quarter, Jernigan's 42-yard punt return enabled the Giants to take possession at the New England 46. Carr quickly found Hixon for a 21-yard gain. After Brown gained for yards, Carr was sacked for a nine-yard loss by Gary Guyton. Lloyd then put the Giants on the scoreboard with a 48-yard field goal.
The Patriots immediately embarked on a five-play, 90-yard drive that ended with Green-Ellis' one-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. The big play on the series was Brady's 64-yard completion to Matthew Slater, who caught the ball near the right sideline and cut back across the center of the field before he was stopped at the Giants' four. Green-Ellis scored two plays later.
Those were the only points of the quarter, though the Giants had two good scoring chances on which they failed to capitalize.
On the possession after the touchdown, the Giants drove from their own 16 to the Patriots' one in 13 plays, the longest Carr's 20-yard pass to Devin Thomas. But on second-and-goal from the one, Carr mishandled a snap from center Kevin Boothe. The ball was recovered by New England's Andre Carter.
The Giants again moved the ball after a Patriots punt. But Carr was sacked for a seven-yard loss on third down and Lloyd was wide left on a 49-yard field goal attempt.
*Sintim suffered his second major injury to his right in as many seasons while tackling Will Yeatman on the first play of the third quarter.
"It's bad … a ruptured patella tendon to start with," Coughlin said. "It is most unfortunate. I mean, you got to feel badly for a guy who is coming back off a serious knee, works his tail off, really didn't say a word the whole preseason, did what he had to do, worked on the field, and then to see that happen tonight, it was devastating. I mean, he'll bounce back; he'll be back out there. But to have to go through what he's got to go through in terms of the rehab, etcetera. We feel real bad for Clint."
Sintim, near tears, spoke briefly with reporters in the Giants locker room. Last Dec. 13, he tore the same anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee when the Giants beat the Vikings in Detroit.
"I knew – as soon as I hit, I knew," Sintim said. "It's unfortunate. I worked really hard to get back and … it's just unfortunate. But that's the way football is. I'm going to give myself a couple of days and I'm going to get back on the grind."
*Rookie Jerrel Jernigan dropped a punt a (which was nullified by a penalty), but he also ran back five punts for 80 yards, including a 42-yarder, and caught a 14-yard pass. Jernigan also suffered a wrist injury of undermined severity. He has had trouble holding onto the ball, but Coughlin said the third-round draft choice could still be the opening day punter.
"He'll be one of them, for sure," Coughlin said. "You leave him out there long enough, he learns. And he did some good things, as well as some bad things. He's going to be in the mix.
"He's young and I'm going to give him a little bit of credit for that, but it's now time that there can't be any mistakes like that…so, we'll just keep working with him. He's a completely honest young man, never blames anyone except himself, so I like that part about him."
*Carr completed 13 of 21 passes for 116 yards and an interception.
"He had some moments when he played very well and he had some moments when he didn't," Coughlin said. "I thought he picked us up after a real poor start. (He) threw the ball into coverage, gave you one of those 'Oh my, here we go' type of deals, but then I thought he went and did some really good things. We got the ball on the one-inch line and I would say the fumble, you are going to give it to the two of them but it was more of the center than was the quarterback. But he came back and missed a couple to wide open guys, so there was an accuracy issue there and we're looking for consistency, obviously. But, the one good thing (is) he played himself into a better performance and got a chance to play a lot of snaps."
"I can't remember the last time I have played that long," Carr said. "I think it has been multiple years. It was great to dust some of the rust off and it was good to get out there and get banged around a little bit and get your ribs beat up and feel like a football player."
*Brown played the entire first half and had 21 carries for 68 yards, with a long run of 11. The 21 carries were his highest total since Aug. 28, 2008, when he rushed for 101 yards on 21 attempts for North Carolina State at South Carolina.
*The Giants had eight sacks – seven of them by rookies. Their two sixth-round draft choices, linebacker Jacquian Williams (3.0) and safety Tyler Sash (2.0) combined for five of them. Linebackers Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich had one apiece. Dwayne Hendricks had the other sack.
"I hustled and the opportunity came, and I just ran with it," Williams said. "The quarterback (rookie Ryan Mallett) was not looking and I had good pressure along with the defensive line. He stepped to my side and I was just running hard and that is how I got the sack."