Tom Coughlin is not one to mince words, so he quickly volunteered what he considered the salient point after the Giants lost to the New Orleans Saints, 49-24, Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"Obviously," Coughlin said "we had a tough time stopping them."
That's an understatement. The Saints scored touchdowns on seven of 11 offensive possessions. They gained 577 yards, the second-highest total allowed by the Giants in their 87-year history. The Chicago Bears gained 682 yards on Nov. 14, 1943.
"We ran into a buzzsaw," said defensive end Justin Tuck. "We had some opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. We didn't play that well on third down (the Saints converted five of nine opportunities). They made some big plays. We weren't able to do anything we wanted to defensively."
Drew Brees completed 24 of 38 passes for 363 yards and four touchdowns, two apiece to Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore. Brees spread the ball around; five different receivers had at least three catches, but Graham, Devery Henderson and Moore tied for the team lead with five. Brees was not sacked.
"We prepared well, but when we got in the game we didn't cover them," Coughlin said.
That same balance carried over to the run game. New Orleans rushed for 205 yards as Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles each rushed for at least 54 yards. Ingram, Thomas and Brees had rushing touchdowns.
"We just didn't play good enough to win – I don't have an answer for it," safety Antrel Rolle said.
The loss was the third in a row for the Giants, who fell to 6-5 and one game behind first-place Dallas in the NFC East. They now have a short week to prepare for the 11-0 Green Bay Packers, who will visit MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Three Giants offensive starters were inactive: running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), wide receiver Mario Manningham (knee) and left tackle Will Beatty (eye surgery). Also sidelined was weakside linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring). Defensive end Osi Umenyiora hurt his ankle in the first half and did not play in the second half.
The NFC West-leading Saints improved to 8-3.
The Giants posted some impressive offensive numbers, but they were in a hole the entire game after squandering a scoring opportunity on their first possession when linebacker Will Herring intercepted an Eli Manning pass in the end zone.
Manning completed 33 of 47 passes for 406 yards and two touchdowns to Victor Cruz. But he fell to 0-2 in his hometown and in the stadium where he watched so many games in his youth. The Giants lost here in 2009.
Manning obliterated a team record by completing 21 consecutive passes from late in the second quarter to late in the fourth quarter. That is tied for the sixth longest streak in NFL history and is the longest since his brother, Peyton Manning, hit 23 straight on Dec. 14 and Dec. 18, 2008 vs. Detroit (6) and Jacksonville (17). It is the longest one-game streak since David Carr, now Manning's backup, completed 22 consecutive passes for Houston vs. Buffalo on Nov. 19, 2006. The NFL record of 24 in a row was set by Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb in 2004.
The previous Giants record of 13 in a row was set by Phil Simms at Cincinnati on Oct. 13, 1985 and tied by Kerry Collins on Sept. 10 and 17, 2000 (at Philadelphia and Chicago). Manning's previous best was 12 in a row at Atlanta on Oct. 15, 2007.
Brandon Jacobs scored on an eight-run and Lawrence Tynes kicked a 42-yard field goal for the Giants.
It might seem odd to cite a turning point in a game in which the teams were separated by 25 points, but the Saints put themselves in a dominant position with a by scoring a touchdown late in their 21-point second quarter.
Brees touchdown passes of four yards to Moore and five yards to Graham, sandwiched around Tynes' field goal, gave New Orleans a 14-3 lead. The Giants had a chance to pull closer, but Steve Weatherford had to punt from their 42. When Sproles signaled for a fair catch at the New Orleans 12 with only 1:09 left, it seemed the Giants would leave the field at halftime trailing by a manageable 11 points.
But Brees and the Saints had other ideas and they shockingly covered the 88 yards in only 34 seconds.
The drive began with the Saints' longest play of the night, a Brees pass to Marques Colston, who caught the ball on the left sideline, eluded Corey Webster and gained 50 yards before he was pushed out of bounds by Kenny Phillips at the Giants' 38. Colston also had 13 and 15-yard receptions to move the Saints into scoring position.
On first down from the 10, Brees threw to the right for Moore, who caught the ball at the six and stepped into the end zone before the Giants' defensive backs could reach him. With 35 seconds remaining in the half, the Giants' deficit was 21-3.
"We thought we were in pretty good field position there," Coughlin said. "And we thought that perhaps if we could hold them it would be 14-6 at the half. It didn't work out that way, obviously."
The Giants got to within two scores on the first possession of the third quarter, when Jacobs' touchdown made it 21-10.
After Jacobs gave the Giants a first-and-goal with a two-yard pickup, he took a handoff, moved to the right and stepped through the defense for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season and the 53rd of his career, two shy of Tiki Barber's franchise record.
The Giants traveled 67 yards in six plays and overcame Bear Pascoe's holding penalty after Da'Rel Scott's 38-yard kickoff return. On the snap after Pascoe was flagged, Manning threw down the middle for Hakeem Nicks, who absorbed a brutal hit from Isa Abdul-Quddus. The safety was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball on the Saints' 48-yard line. Two plays later, Manning connected with tight end Jake Ballard for a 24-yard gain to the 19. A pass to D.J. Ware gained nine more yards before Jacobs' two runs got the ball into the end zone.
New Orleans countered with two touchdowns in 1:35 to effectively put the game out of reach.
The Saints had a first-and-goal from the eight when Brees dropped back to pass, stepped up to evade the rush and didn't stop until he dove and reached the ball over the goal line. The score was immediately preceded by Thomas' 24-yard run.
New Orleans drove 73 yards in nine plays and 4:55. Thomas was also involved in the drive's second-longest gain, on a 15-yard pass from Brees that was challenged by Coughlin, who contended the quarterback released the ball past the line of scrimmage. Referee Gene Steratore disagreed and upheld the call on the field. Brees scored three plays later.
On the series after the touchdown, the Giants faced a third-and-one from their own 29. They tried a direct snap to Scott, this year's seventh-round draft choice, but he fumbled the ball, which was recovered by safety Roman Harper. Coughlin challenged that ruling as well, saying Scott was down by contact prior to losing the ball. Steratore again upheld the call on the field.
On the second snap after the turnover, Brees threw to the left side for Graham, who caught the ball inside the 10 and beat Deon Grant to the end zone. With 4:13 remaining in the quarter, the Saints had built a 35-10 lead.
That held up as the final margin as each team scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
The Giants struck on the first play as Manning threw down the middle to Cruz, who caught the ball on the Saints' 34-yard line and sprinted to the end zone.
New Orleans' offense again got the best of the Giants' defense, driving 80 yards in nine plays and getting assistance from Phillips' unnecessary roughness penalty..
The Saints scored two touchdowns in a span of 1:35 to take a 35-10 lead with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Brees' touchdown run extended New Orleans' lead to 28-10 with 5:48 left in the quarter.
The Giants pulled to within 21-10 on Jacobs' touchdown run on the first possession of the second half.
The Saints increased their lead to 21-3 by driving 88 yards in only 34 seconds late in the second quarter. Brees capped the drive with his third touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to Moore, just 35 seconds before halftime.
New Orleans took possession on its own 12-yard line after a Giants punt. On the first play,
The Saints increased their lead to 14-3 on Brees' touchdown pass to Graham with 2:21 remaining in the second quarter. On second-and-goal, Graham lined up in the left slot, stepped toward the goal line and was effectively uncovered when he caught ball at the goal line.
New Orleans drove 80 yards in seven plays and three minutes. On the drive, Brees completed passes of 21 and 24 yards to Devery Henderson and 22 yards to Darren Sproles (who gained most of that yardage after catching the ball). The second throw to Henderson gave the Saints a first down at the Giants' 10. Sproles ran for five yards before Graham scored the touchdown.
Tynes' 42-yard field goal with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter put the Giants on the scoreboard and cut their deficit to 7-3.
Before the kick, the Giants moved 46 yards in eight plays, including Manning passes of 11 yards to Nicks and 10 yards to Henry Hynoski. The Giants did not face a third down until the play prior to the field goal, when a screen pass to Ware gained six yards on third-and-14.
New Orleans took a 7-0 lead on Brees' four-yard touchdown pass to Moore eight seconds into the second quarter. On third-and-goal, Brees took the shotgun snap, moved right and fired a pass to Moore, who caught the ball at the three and dove into the end zone as Aaron Ross unsuccessfully tried to stop him.
The scored capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive following linebacker Will Herring's interception of a Manning pass on the Giants' first series. The Saints had a pair of 23-yard gains on the drive, first on Brees' pass to Graham, the second on a run by Sproles, which gave the New Orleans a first down at the Giants' seven-yard line.
Mark Ingram gained three yards on the final play of the first quarter. After an incompletion thrown to Graham in the end zone, Brees connected with Moore for the touchdown.
The Saints pulled a surprise at the end of the game's first possession when they faked a field goal attempt. John Kasay lined up for what would have been a 37-yard try. But holder Chase Daniel – New Orleans' backup quarterback, jumped up and threw a pass to Graham, who caught the ball near the right sideline. Graham slipped out Devin Thomas' grasp, but was tackled by Jason Pierre-Paul at the 10-yard line, two yards shy of a first down.
The Giants' first series ended when Herring picked off Manning. It was the second time this season the Giants had an opening-possession turnover. On Sept. 19 vs. St. Louis, Manning was picked off by safety Quintin Mikell on the Giants' first series.
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