Phillippi Sparks forced a fumble and intercepted a pass and the Giants converted four turnovers into 24 points in defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17 in the exhibition opener for both teams Saturday night.
Danny Kanell and third-string quarterback Mike Cherry each threw a touchdown pass, Tiki Barber scored on a 4-yard run and Brad Daluiso kicked a 38-yard field goal as the Giants capitalized on the Bengals' generosity to take a 24-3 lead early in the third quarter.
"Sloppy," Bengals coach Bruce Coslet said. "The Giants made their run last year leading the league or being second in the turnover ratio, and they continued that unabated tonight. We talk about turnovers all the time. Now we have to start taking about giveaways, and we gave away the ball way too many times."
All four turnovers gave New York possession in Bengals territory, with the touchdown drives covering 34, 44 and 46 yards. The NFC East champion Giants (10-5-1) led the NFL in turnover ratio last season with a plus-25.
"It's nice to see we didn't digress," Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn said. "For the most part, we looked pretty sharp, but we should. We have all 11 players back."
Cincinnati (7-9) made the first football game played at Giants Stadium on a grass field close in the fourth quarter as third-string quarterback Eric Kresser threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Damon Gibson and Ki-Jana Carter scored on a 1-yard run against New York's third-string defense.
Kresser, who was 10-of-14 for 138 yards, moved the Bengals inside New York territory in the final minutes before an offensive pass interference penalty and a sack killed the drive. Safety Percy Ellsworth batted down a desperation pass to end the game.
"I wasn't even scheduled to play and Paul Justin hurt his knee, so I knew if I got in there I would have to make the best of it," said Kresser, who was on the Bengals roster for the final five games last season but did not play. "I knew I had to play well and I just tried to keep my cool. I completed some passes late and we almost came back."
The grass, being used on an experimental basis, held up well. Artificial turf will be used in the regular season for Giants and New York Jets games.
The Giants looked impressive in opening their second preseason under Jim Fassel.
Three plays after Daluiso missed a 47-yard field goal on the opening series, Bengals halfback Corey Dillon fumbled after being hit by Sparks at the Giants 48. Safety Rodney Young returned the ball to the Cincinnati 34.
Kanell, who was 8-of-15 for 85 yards, hit David Patten for 18 yards on third-and-10 and found fullback Charles Way for 9 yards on third-and-7 to give ew York a first down at the 4. Barber scored on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
Sparks picked off a first-down pass by Jeff Blake late in the quarter at the Bengals 44. Seven plays later, Kanell hit tight end Howard Cross on a 9-yard touchdown pass for 14-0 lead six seconds into the second quarter.
Jason Sehorn, who plays the corner opposite Sparks, picked off a pass by Blake, who was 3-of-6 for 23 yards, on the next series and returned it 26 yards to set up Daluiso's field goal.
Bengals linebacker Reinard Wilson forced a fumble by Giants backup quarterback Kent Graham just before halftime and Doug Pelfrey kicked a 45-yard field goal to get Cincinnati on the scoreboard.
Shuan Williams, the Giants' first-round draft pick, forced and recovered Eric Bieniemy's fumble early in the third quarter. Eight plays later, Cherry hit Omar Douglas on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Former Jet Neil O'Donnell, who is battling Blake for the starting job, was 6-of-15 for 49 yards.
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