Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning broke out the big broom against younger brother Eli’s New York Giants, spoiling New York’s regular season home opener with 21 unanswered second half points en route to a 41-23 thrashing.
The loss drops the Giants to 0-2 on the season, the first time since 2007 that they’ve begun a regular season campaign within a win in their first two games. It also makes them one of five teams in the NFL who have yet to win a game thus far.
The game started out somewhat promising for the Giants, who managed to hold Manning and the Broncos defense to jut ten points at the half. But their inability to get to Peyton Manning loomed large as the future Hall of Famer had connected with eight different receivers in completing 69.7% of his pass attempts.
“I feel at times we got to the quarterback but we just didn’t get a handle on him,” said Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “I don’t feel like we put that kind of pressure on him tonight. All we can do is go back and get better and watch the film.”
The biggest problems for the Giants, though, were on the offensive side of the ball. New York continues to be plagued by their inability to run the ball, to convert on third down, and to score in the red zone.
The Giants running game finished with 19 carries for 23 yards, with starter David Wilson running for just 17 of those yards.
“Quite frankly, to not be able to run the ball, to have so few attempts at rushing the ball, it’s just not our style,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “We haven’t had a lot of success with it. Without looking at the tape, we’re not running through very many arms, and we don’t have a lot of clear paths.”
As for the third down problem which say the Giants convert just one of their 11 attempts, Coughlin theorized, “I would say, without looking at the tape, on some occasions, it was pressure. Other occasions, it was coverage.”
Manning said there were numerous reasons for the third down issues. “I can think of one drop, some misfires, I got pressured on a few things. I think a couple were down in the red zone that were unfortunate. If we could have converted on those, they could have led to scoring touchdowns and not field goals.”
Then there were the turnovers – four of them this week, all by Manning, who finished with a 53.3 rating that included just one touchdown pass, a late-game 23-yard toss to running back Da’Rel Scott.
“I think Eli would be the first to say that he’s not the way we want him to be,” Coughlin said. “Somehow, someway, we’ve got to stop the interceptions. You’re looking at a two-edge sword. You’ve put yourself in a position where you are throwing it and not running it. Now, if you’re going to try to tighten it up a little bit, we’re going to have to have some run game to go with it.”
Manning who now has seven interceptions in two games, is coming dangerously close to breaking a preseason goal he had set for himself.
“Before the season I like to set goals, keeping interceptions in the single digits. I kind of have to start over here,” he said.
“Obviously, some of them happen and you have to look at decisions and you get some bad breaks. Sometimes you get late in games, 4th and 10 and we have to make a play and force something here and whether it’s intercepted or incomplete, an interception probably ends up being better right there for us field position-wise.
“At the end of games or when you’re competing, I’m going to be aggressive and not worry about the stats or quarterback rating at the end. Honestly I’m not trying to throw interceptions, but obviously I’m just worried about getting back to playing well offensively and eliminating some of these turnovers.”
The Giants, who will be on the road for the next two weeks starting with a visit to see the Carolina Panthers, will attempt to figure out how to stop the ship from sinking, and the players believe that it starts with them not giving up on each other.
“We’ve got a lot of playmakers on this team, a lot of guys that are used to winning, so we’re going back to practice and we’re going to get this thing back on the right path and go out there and execute the plays on game day,” said running back David Wilson.