After the horror show that was the Giants’ opener in Detroit last Monday night, Eli Manning and the rest of Big Blue’s offense knew they were miles away from where they needed to be. What happened Sunday against Arizona was certainly a step in the right direction, but the Giants offense will still be found wanting after putting up just 14 points and leaving a number of plays on the field at MetLife stadium this past Sunday.
Manning, who finished the game 26-for-39(66.7%) for 277 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions knows that improvement only means so much when the Giants already find themselves in a 0-2 hole to start the season.
“We definitely played better offensively than we did the other week, but it’s still a loss,” Manning said. “We made too many mistakes and too many missed opportunities. Turnovers hurt us. We had a couple of drops, a couple missed throws with guys open on third downs and some big plays. [The performance was] better, but not where it needs to be. We made improvements, but we’ve got to find ways to win games and make some plays in the clutch.”
Manning’s comment about making plays in the clutch could be applied to several culprits on Sunday who contributed to the team’s meltdown, but it naturally puts a spotlight on receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz, who otherwise had a solid game hauling in 5 catches for 60 yards and drawing the pass interference call that led to the Giants’ third quarter go-ahead touchdown, suffered several drops in the game’s final quarter. In particular, Manning had hit Cruz on a 3rd-and-6 early in the fourth quarter on what should have been a routine catch, only for Cruz to mishandle the ball and force the Giants to punt. A play later, Ted Ginn gave Arizona a lead they would not relinquish.
Nonetheless, Sunday’s game was the first time the Giants have displayed anything resembling an NFL caliber offense this season, even if the team has no win to show for it. The Giants know though that no team can afford to drop games no matter how early in the season, and avoiding another 0-6 start will be at the forefront of their minds. Manning’s message was simple: just keep working.
“Guys are doing the right things,” the Giants’ QB said. “Guys are going the right way. We’re not having breakdowns. We’re not having guys running the wrong routes. We’re not having guys doing the wrong things that are leading to mistakes. Guys are doing the correct things, and we have opportunities to make plays, we’ve just got to make them.”
Manning and the receivers may appear to be more in sync, but it will mean little next Sunday if the Giants continue to be careless with the ball. For Eli and the Giants, it’s not just making plays, but making sure you don’t make plays for the opponent as well.