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Dottino: Game Balls And Gassers From Giants' Brutal Loss To Cardinals

By Paul Dottino
» More Columns

The Giants lost and they are 0-2. Those are the facts.

Slice the Cardinals' 25-14 victory any way you'd like and it won't do much to pacify Giants coach Tom Coughlin, nor should it. His team accomplished far more than it did while getting belted by the Lions in Week 1, yet the net result was the same. Only this time, the Giants repeated a couple of similar traits and gave away the game, even though Arizona needed to start backup QB Drew Stanton because of Carson Palmer's shoulder injury.

The fourth quarter contained the worst infractions: a punt return allowed for a TD, four dropped passes and two lost fumbles. And all of them came AFTER the Giants took a 14-13 lead into the fourth quarter. More specifically, a drop, a special teams TD and a fumbled kickoff on THREE CONSECUTIVE PLAYS did them in.


Offense: QB Eli Manning -- He had the most improved performance over Week 1, and he also received a bit more pass protection this time, as well.

Manning (26-of-39, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) was extremely sharp in the first half, going 12-of-14 for 135 yards with a TD and an INT. His only two incompletions to that point were a Sam Acho interception that the linebacker plucked out of the air after the ball bounced off DT Tommy Kelly's shoulder pad and an intentional overthrow to a double-covered Rueben Randle long down the right sideline. Manning's other turnover -- by LB Larry Foote -- came on a meaningless throw inside the game's final 10 seconds.

Manning did not force the issue; rather, he was patient and often made adjustments at the line. He led the Giants on sustained drives of 13 plays for 90 yards (TD), 8-54 (TD) and 12-60.

Defense: DE Jason Pierre-Paul -- He's looking more and more like himself every week, and it's showing up on the stat sheet. He was very active and finished with four tackles and 1.5 sacks. Midway through the third quarter -- with the Giants down, 10-7 --  he shared a sack with DE Mathias Kiwanuka on third-and-6 from the Cardinals' 24. The Giants scored a go-ahead TD on their ensuing drive.

Special Teams: None -- As much as P Steve Weatherford showed guts by overcoming a badly sprained left ankle to punt in the game, he also made the mistake of hitting a low liner down the middle of the field to Ted Ginn, who returned it 71 yards for the game-altering TD in the fourth quarter. (See below.)


Offense: WR Victor Cruz -- He had two more drops in this game and they came as they Giants were trying to right themselves in the decisive fourth quarter. He dropped a first-down throw on third-and-6 from the Giants 26' that allowed Arizona -- which had just cut the lead to 14-13 -- to register a three-and-out and force the punt that turned into a score. On the offense's next possession, Cruz failed to hold a 25-yard, first-down pass near the 20 as the Giants were trying to climb out of a 22-14 hole.

Defense: The entire unit -- The Giants allowed just 102 of the Cardinals' 268 total yards of offense in the second half. But for the second consecutive week, the defense did not force any turnovers, a critical part of the game plan when your team is scuffling.

Special Teams: CB Zack Bowman and S Quintin Demps -- Bowman was the most obvious culprit on Ted Ginn's 71-yard punt return for a TD that put the Cardinals ahead, 19-14, with 10:10 left in the game. It's true that the punt needed more hang time and should have been kicked away from the returner, but Bowman quickly arrived and wrapped up Ginn, who was able to squirm away. He eluded LS Zak DeOssie and S Nat Berhe (and later Weatherford) on his way up the middle of the field for a TD.

Demps fumbled away the kickoff return at the Giants' 20 immediately following Ginn's score. (Cardinals LB Kenny Demens poked it away and RB Robert Hughes recovered it.) Chandler Catanzaro then hit a 32-yard field goal to make it 22-14 with 9:11 to play.

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