The second quarter of the first preseason game was when the novelty of a new stadium wore off for the Giants. That's when Calvin Pace's blindside hit forced a fumble and sent a helmetless Eli Manning into Jim Leonhard's facemask down near the Jets' goalline.
When Eli got up, you could see he was bleeding like a pro wrestler during a cage match and you could also see the entire Giants season flashing before your eyes. It wouldn't take much more than an injury to Manning to put the Giants in the running for a top 10 draft pick come next April and everyone who likes the Giants had to be thinking about lingering concussions and the things they can do to a football team.
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Luckily, it seems that a few stitches and a scar will be the only lasting reminders of that scary moment. Little else should matter to Giants fans, although we're sure more than a few of them will be spending the day finding out everything they can about Victor Cruz.
The undrafted rookie caught three touchdown passes in the second half, potentially making him the most famous man in America without his own Wikipedia page. It might have been the second half with mostly backups on the field, but it was a big night for the stadium which meant more people were watching than in your typical preseason second half. Cruz will likely be th darling of the media and fans for the rest of the summer. He's from Paterson, giving a local angle to the longshot storyline that plays out every summer in football camps. With Sinorice Moss eternally disappointing, Cruz should actually have a shot to make the team.
Those were the big things to come out of Monday night's game, but they were hardly the only observations:
- Ahmad Bradshaw is the best running back on the Giants by a country mile. Bradshaw showed great burst and skills out of the backfield on Monday night while Brandon Jacobs mostly looked like the same big, slow back he was a year ago. Yes, he scored the first touchdown in the stadium but it took him three tries from the one-yard line. Hardly impressive for a guy of his girth nor should anyone be impressed by the way he set Manning up to get his clock cleaned.
- Some of the blame for Jacobs's poor night might go to the offensive line. Although Bradshaw seemed fine, it was clearly hard for the makeshift group up front to handle the Jets defense. The lack of tight ends exacerbated the problem and makes it hard to draw many conclusions about the state of the Giants offense.
- The first-team defense gets no such passes. They looked just as weak against the run as they did last season and the lack of dynamism among the linebackers was just as glaring. They settled down in the red zone, which is good, but made things much too easy on Mark Sanchez and company during the first half.
- The only member of the regular defense to really impress was Chris Canty. He looked like a player on Monday night, drawing a pair of penalties and creating some havoc up front.
- It's time to bring in another punter. Matt Dodge shanked one kick and had another blocked because he took way too long to get the kick away. Open up the competition or pay the price.
You are now free to get back to dreaming about a future full of Victor Cruz highlights.