It is said that in preseason games the only thing that matters is the first quarter. If that’s the case then the Giants stomped the Cleveland Browns buy the score of 23 to 3. The other three quarters were filled with proud quarterbacks trying to prove that they deserve a starting job.
The Giants’ starting QB, Eli Manning, came on the field to prove that last year was not a case of catching lightening in a bottle. With one preseason game under his belt, Manning looked very impressive while only completing 4 out of 7 passes. Two of those throws were for touchdowns. Easy E even ran for 9 yards to move the chains, displaying a skill that he is not really known for. Maybe the evasiveness he displayed before “the catch” was no fluke.
The beneficiary of Eli’s brilliance was a relatively unknown, Domenik Hixon. Hixon snagged two touchdowns on the Brown’s first-team defense. The second reception was an athletic grab at the back of the endzone where he stretched to get both feet in bounds. Hixon didn’t limit himself to touchdown catches. He even ran a kick-off 82 yards to the house. With the Giant receiving corps as nicked up as it is, Hixon has emerged as an effective backup plan, especially with Plaxico Burress and the Giants in a stalemate with respects to contract talks.
The defense also picked up where they left off last season. Although there were only 2 sacks recorded, Osi Umenyiora led the Giants’ defensive line into Cleveland’s backfield, which left Derek Anderson, and Brady Quinn looking at the New Jersey skies an awful lot. The secondary didn’t allow Cleveland to rack up any serious passing yards until the 5-minute mark in the second quarter.
The back-up defense held the Browns out of the endzone until the 2-minute warning approached. Even after the halftime adjustments, the G-Men only gave up one touchdown to Quinn, and that pass landed in the hands of cornerback, Kevin Dockery before popping out and landing in Syndric Steptoe’s mitts for his second score of the night.
If there must be a downside to this performance it is definitely the special teams coverage, or lack thereof, by the Giants. Kick coverage alone gave up a total of 250 yards, with an average of 42 yards per return. The special teamers never brought the return-man down on the first tackle attempt. There was no wrapping-up and no one could shed any blockers. This constantly put the Browns in good starting field position. Lucky for New York, their defense bailed them out on multiple occasions.
An unexpected gem was David Carr. From his first snap he looked like he is STILL trying to prove to the league that he deserved his first-overall draft status and that he can be a starter somewhere. If he weren’t going up against the Brown’s third-team defense I would believe him. He had the most attempts out of the 4 Giant QBs that saw the field, but he only completed 7 of 14. There were at least 3 dropped passes that are making this stat looks a bit worse. It seemed like the back-up receivers were not ready for the velocity that Carr has behind his passes. Unfortunately for Carr, Eli Manning is poised to make a big statement this season, not leaving much room for David to prove his point.
In the end, Cleveland’s third team outplayed their blue-suited counterparts. But not enough to get the W in the unimportant, preseason win column. The Giants edged out the Browns by the score of 37-34, but the game was nowhere near as close as the box score would lead Browns fans to believe.