Any professional kicker who's been on the job as long as Lawrence Tynes has kicked his share of field goals in pressure situations. Tynes, after all, is the only kicker in NFL history with two postseason overtime game-winning field goals.
But Wednesday night brought a different kind of stress. After flopping around offensively all night, the Giants and New England Patriots were tied when Tynes lined up for a 32-yard field goal attempt with 1:07 remaining. No one on either side wanted to see the game go into overtime, particularly the Giants, who open their regular season against NFC East rival Dallas in one week.
Tynes booted the ball through the uprights and the Giants held on for an inartistic 6-3 victory in their preseason finale in MetLife Stadium.
"David Carr said that was the third biggest kick of my career," Tynes said. "That's pretty funny. Actually, you don't want to go to overtime, but it was good to be put in that position in the preseason. No matter who you are, it's still kind of a late game field goal. Those are good to have before you go into the regular season."
Tom Coughlin was understandably dissatisfied with his offense but pleased with the Giants' defense. The Giants gained only 186 yards, had 12 first downs and converted four of 16 third down opportunities.
"The continuity factor was quite obvious tonight," Coughlin said. "You take some people out of there and there are some people who have not been in there since day one and then for whatever reason, there were some mental errors tonight and some guys that we're really counting on, it seems as if we had some mental errors. I'm going to have to look at the tape to verify all of that, but certainly there is concern.
"You expect that in the fourth preseason game, you're going to run the ball and you'll have a little bit of rhythm and tempo and there was none. If that's what you mean by, 'Am I concerned?' Yeah. I would've liked to see them take the ball, drive the ball, score and I would've been able to take them out of the game knowing that a lot of times that's what happens the last preseason game that we play. That was a little bit of a disappointment to me that they weren't able to do that."
Seventeen Giants were inactive due to injury. Eli Manning and the starting offense played four series, while a few of the normal defensive starters were on the field for four New England possessions. Manning completed four of eight passes for 29 yards and absorbed a 14-yard sack. But like all the Giants, he was already thinking about Dallas.
"Offensively, it wasn't our best performance," Manning said. "We didn't make any major mistakes, but we didn't move the ball very well.
"We're all looking forward to starting our season, getting a full week of practice in and preparing for the Cowboys."
The starting defense (six regulars missed the game due to injury) held the Patriots to 38 total yards and forced them to go three-and-out three times in New England's first four possessions. New England starting quarterback Tom Brady was in uniform, but did not play.
"Overall, we went out there and made some plays," safety Antrel Rolle said. "We were around the ball. We had a lot of three-and-outs. We were flying to the ball. We preached all week that we've got to play hard in this last preseason game. We've got a lot of guys out here fighting for jobs. These young guys want to make it difficult when it comes to making roster decisions. Come next week, we'll have our 53-man roster. We'll work hard to get ready for the Cowboys. We'll be all in and ready to go."
The winning field goal was set up by defensive end Adewale Ojomo, who forced a fumble by quarterback Brian Hoyer that was recovered by Marcus Thomas – who ran 12 yards before he fumbled and recovered the ball at the Patriots' 17-yard line.
"The end zone was separating in front of me," Thomas said. "The more steps I took, it kept going away, but it was fun though. I was basically worried about keeping that ball in my hand and make sure that I don't fumble."
The Giants gained three yards before Tynes put the Giants ahead. Laron Scott intercepted Hoyer with 12 seconds left to clinch the victory.
Tynes' 34-yard field goal midway through the third quarter tied the game at 3-3. Before the kick, the Giants drove 64 yards in 12 plays following the second half kickoff.
Andre Brown rushed for 52 yards and caught a nine-yard pass, and Ramses Barden had two receptions for 14 yards on the drive, which lost momentum when rookie tackle Matt McCants was penalized for holding after the Giants had advanced to the New England 15-yard line.
The Patriots had taken a 3-0 lead into the halftime locker room thanks to Steve Gostkowski's 20-yard field goal with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett led New England 51 yards down the field prior to the field goal. The longest play on the drive was a 10-yard pass to Alex Silvestro. A facemask penalty on linebacker Spencer Paysinger gave the Patriots a 15-yard boost and a first down at the Giants' 21. They had a first down at the 10, but three runs by Brandon Bolden left them two yards short of the goal line. Gostkowski then scored the game's first points.
*Hakeem Nicks started and played the first two series as he saw his first game action of the preseason. Nicks had his only reception on the opening play of the Giants' second possession. Cutting from right to left, he gained six yards. He had missed most of training camp while rehabbing his surgically-repaired foot.
"It felt real good to be out there for the first time this preseason," Nicks said. "Went out there, got my feet wet, got a couple reps. It was exactly what I needed to know that I'll be ready for next week. It was pretty much what I expected. No problem with the foot. It felt good, and I'll be ready to start the season."
"It was great to have Hakeem back out there," Manning said, "get him a catch, get him back in the flow of things, so we all knew he'd be ready next week for Dallas."
*Coughlin was impressed with defensive ends Matt Broha and Ojomo, who combined for 2.5 sacks in the game and 7.5 in the preseason.
"Those two kids have really done a nice job the entire preseason," Coughlin said. "They play hard. They get after the quarterback pretty good. They've done a nice job in practice every day. They don't miss a thing. They've been a very pleasant surprise."
*The Giants finished 2-2 in the preseason for the third year in a row and the fourth time in five years. They are 18-18 in nine preseasons under Coughlin.
*This was the lowest-scoring Giants preseason game since a 6-3 loss to the expansion Carolina Panthers at Clemson University on Aug. 26, 1995.
*The Giants top four defensive ends were among the 17 Giants players inactive for the game.
Jason Pierre-Paul (back), Justin Tuck (shoulders), Osi Umenyiora (knee) and Adrian Tracy (hamstring) did not suit up for the game. Broha and Craig Marshall started at right and left end, respectively.
Four cornerbacks are also inactive: Terrell Thomas (knee), Prince Amukamara (ankle), Jayron Hosley (toe) and Bruce Johnson (shoulder). Michael Coe started at right cornerback opposite Corey Webster.
The other inactive starters were running back Ahmad Bradshaw (hand), guard Chris Snee (leg), tackle Will Beatty (back) and linebackers Mathias Kiwanuka (groin) and Michael Boley (hamstring). Boley missed all four preseason games.
First-round draft choice David Wilson started for Bradshaw, Mitch Petrus stepped in for Snee, Sean Locklear started his fourth consecutive game at left tackle and Jacquian Williams and Keith Rivers filled in for Kiwanuka and Boley.
Also inactive were safety Tyler Sash (ankle), tackle James Brewer (back) and defensive tackles Shaun Rogers (leg) and Marvin Austin (back).
*The Giants' game captains were Bear Pascoe, Domenik Hixon and Keith Rivers.