Rashad Jennings has never been the most explosive or dynamic runner. But what he is, and what he’s been for the Giants since they signed him in free agency, is reliable – a workhorse back who would run hard, get what’s blocked, and never make the crucial mistake.
Until Sunday, that is. Jennings hadn’t lost a fumble in two years, but he slipped, fell and watched the ball pop from his arm after catching a swing pass from Eli Manning as the Giants were driving for the potential tying score. It was the embodiment of everything that has gone wrong with Big Blue over the past two years. But to his credit, Jennings didn’t run away from his mistake. There were no excuses, no trying to do too much, just a mistake to put behind him.
“I turned around and tried to plant my foot in the ground and slipped as I was about to take off running,” Jennings said after the game. “It’s uncharacteristic of me, but regardless of how it came out of my hands, it came out.”
It was just the final blunder in a 25-14 loss that New York had every opportunity to win. After taking a 14-10 lead into the fourth quarter, the Giants gave up a punt return for a touchdown, fumbled the ensuing kickoff which led to another field goal, and gave the ball away again as they were moving deep into Arizona territory. New York now finds itself as one of just seven 0-2 teams in the NFL, with images of another disastrous start running through the minds of fans after so much optimism this spring.
“I can see why fans are frustrated – heck, we are frustrated,” Jennings said. “We don’t expect this. We are better this, and we know that. [But] we are going to continue to work, and we will be back next week.”
As dispiriting a loss as it was, the game could be a building block for things to come. Fans finally saw Ben McAdoo’s vision for the Giants offense realized – Eli Manning was accurate all day, fitting the ball into tight windows, and Victor Cruz and Reuben Randle feasted on the Cardinals man coverage.
That is, until that fourth quarter. As encouraging as the first 45 minutes were, the team still unraveled, and all the talk of execution this summer is getting old, fast. It feels like a broken record, but this team isn’t far away, and with three winnable games against Houston, Atlanta and Washington upcoming, Jennings remains confident.
“We can be a great team; watching in practice with the personnel we have,” he said. “We just need to win, and we are capable of it. [The offense] is coming together, but we need to come together now. [We do that], and I believe we have a great chance for a different outcome.”