Among the most notable and potentially costly ST mistake was Owen Pochman's missed field goal with a little more than seven minutes to play with New York trailing by two points. Pochman's 37-yard try sailed wide right after a poor snap from Chris Bober.
Fassel was also displeased with his club's punting. "I'm not happy with the inconsistency there," he said.
Incumbent Rodney Williams averaged only 36.8 yards on five punts with a long of 44, and challenger Gabe Lindstrom's only punt covered 37 yards.
The only positive from the special teams is the emergence of Darnell Dinkins. Fassel vowed to give his fourth QB a chance to make the team at another position. He responded by making a tackle on punt coverage shortly after halftime. Then, late in the third quarter, Dinkins absolutely nailed Pats punt returner Kevin Faulk. Dinkins sped downfield and timed the hit perfectly.
"I told [the team], I said there's one guy who showed me that he really wants to play," Fassel said. "And I told [STs] Coach [Bruce] Read that he will start on every special team and be given a front row seat to make this team."
Of his big hit, Dinkins said, "It all happened so fast. I just went down there to make the tackle." Dinkins' collegiate coach, Johnny Majors at Pitt, was the first to move him from his quarterback position. It was then that Dinkins came to grips with the fact that his football future would most likely not be behind center. In the process he's learned to love the ‘other' third of the game.
"Special teams is all about laying it on the line," Dinkins said. "It's either hit or be hit. I always try to take someone's head off."
The first-string defense played well, with one notable exception. On the game's first play, Pats QB Tom Brady hooked up with Deion Branch for a 62-yard gain. Branch turned around and lost CB Will Peterson on play. However, Defensive Coordinator Johnnie Lynn confirmed that Peterson had the receiver covered as well as he could and that the play worked only because Brady under-threw the pass.
"We did pretty well tonight," SS Shaun Williams said of New York's starting defense. "We gave up one big play, but we held them out of the end zone. I was happy with the way we held our ground and kept them to three points after the big play."
Patriots WR Deion Branch, New England's second-round choice out of Louisville, torched the Giants secondary with eight catches for 129 yards.
RB Sean Bennett put together quite a drive both on the ground and through the air during the third quarter. However, after gaining 55 total yards, and handling the ball on six straight plays and nine of 10, Bennett fumbled the ball away.
"I felt pretty good tonight, but I'm not satisfied," Bennett said. "I've got to take better care of the football on the fumble that I had. It was totally my fault." "He was more aggressive in his running," Fassel said.
Rookie free agent DT Matt Mitrione had a five-yard sack, his second in two games. He also applied QB pressure, which led to an unlikely interception by D-linemate Frank Ferrara.
WR Tim Carter attempted to play through his back injury, but was unable to last more than a handful of plays. Reserve RB Delvin Joyce left the game with bruised ribs and did not return. LG Rich Seubert suffered a muscle strain.
The starting OL, which played well, was constituted of Chris Bober (LT), Rich Seubert (LG), Jason Whittle (C), Tam Hopkins (RG) and Mike Rosenthal (RT).
The Giants inactives were RB Tiki Barber, CB Jason Sehorn, FB Adam Wright, CB Calvin Coleman, TE Martin Maurer, C Dusty Zeigler, LB Clayton White, G Terance Wagner, DE Sean Guthrie, OT Jeff Hatch, LT Luke Petitgout and WR Daryl Jones.
DT Keith Hamilton was excused from the game for personal reasons.