New York Giants: Victor Cruz

Cruz: Nicks' return crucial for Big Blue

November, 27, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks' return to practice Wednesday was a welcome sight.

"I'm happy to have him back -- period. Just to have him back in the huddle, in the offense, on the sideline, dressed and ready to go. He's a guy we need," Cruz said. "We need him to be his normal self in order to win games, for our moral to be up, stuff like that. We're definitely happy to have him back."

After Nicks missed Sunday's game against Dallas with an abdomen injury, Nicks returned to practice in a limited capacity in preparation for Sunday's game at Washington. Cruz believes a healthy Nicks can help an inconsistent Giants offense round into shape for the home stretch.

Nicks did not speak to the media Wednesday.

"I think Hakeem getting back and getting ourselves back on track and getting the offense back to where it was will definitely be paramount in order to get ourselves back on track for these last five games," Cruz said. "We're excited to have Hakeem back and to have the chance to do so."

While Nicks has had a mediocre season thus far, with just 42 catches for 620 yards and zero touchdowns, the Giants' passing attack looked out of sync without him against Dallas. Against the then-worst passing defense in the NFL, Eli Manning totaled just 174 passing yards. The Giants did run for 202 yards, which mitigated the need for a big passing game, but the aerial attack never truly exploited Dallas' defense.

Despite entering the season with what was expected to be one of the premier passing offenses in the NFL, the Giants have rarely lived up to the hype. Manning has thrown for less than 300 yards in each of the last six games and has tossed for less than 200 in two of the last three games.

"We've got to find ways to win our matchups and for everything to start clicking," Manning said. "From protections to winning the one-on-ones, to throwing the ball accurately, we got to make sure we're very sound in everything we're doing."

Sunday's game against Washington could present a good opportunity for the passing game to get back on track, although last week figured to be a great opportunity too. Washington ranks 26th in passing yards allowed per game and has struggled to shut down opposing offenses.

Cruz hopes Nicks' presence can help galvanize the offense.

"He's another weapon out there for us that we definitely need. With him, myself, Rueben [Randle] -- put all of us on the same page, clicking on all cylinders, we're a tough team to beat," Cruz said. "Especially with Andre Brown now stepping into form and doing the things he does well, I think we're a tough team to beat.

"Having [Nicks] there is just an extra weapon that gives us more ability to do what we need to do on offense to win games."

Giants' passing game grounded

November, 24, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There would be no repeat of Week 1 for the Giants' receivers.

After torching the Cowboys' secondary for 450 yards in the season opener, the Giants' passing game totaled just 174 yards in Sunday's 24-21 loss to Dallas at MetLife Stadium. The Giants' receivers pointed to the success of the running game, which ran for 202 yards, but the passing attack never got going and was often out of sync.

Receiver Victor Cruz made the costliest mistake of the game when he was stripped and Dallas returned the ball for a score, and receiver Hakeem Nicks was inactive for the first time all season.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsVictor Cruz hauled in just two catches for 27 yards.
"We didn't particularly throw the ball or have as much yardage as we would have thought with the passing game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Opposing offenses have had great success this year attacking Dallas through the air as the Cowboys entered Sunday's game ranked last in the NFL by allowing 313 passing yards per game. The Giants were privy to this information based on the last matchup with Dallas on Sept. 8, when Cruz, Nicks and Rueben Randle each went for more than 100 receiving yards in the Giants' 36-31 loss.

The Giants' running game had its way with Dallas' depleted defense, but the passing attack, once considered the strength of the team, couldn't get going as Manning and his receivers weren't on the same page. After catching five passes for 118 yards in the previous game, Cruz had just two for 27 yards. Randle led the team with three catches for 64 yards, but that was 37 less than he posted last time.

In a revealing sequence late in the second quarter, the Giants chose to run the ball on third-and-goal from the 10 rather than have Manning throw. The run was not enough and the Giants kicked a field goal.

"There were definitely voids and times where I was open. It was just different circumstances where Eli was sacked or Eli was moving other ways, things of that nature," Cruz said of Dallas' plan against him. "I don't think it was necessarily them doing a better job. I felt there were still voids and still routes open."

Cruz had the biggest blunder of the game when he fumbled after hauling in a 5-yard catch in the first quarter. As Cruz fought for an extra yard with two defenders draped over him, Orlando Scandrick pulled the ball out and it was recovered by Jeff Heath, who took it 50 yards to put the Cowboys up, 7-0.

It marked the third defensive touchdown the Cowboys scored against the Giants this season.

"I can't let those type of things happen," Cruz said. "I got to take better care of the football and know that they are doing that and they're going to try to come in there and strip it and take better care of it."

Leading up to the game, Nicks, who is bothered by an abdominal injury, said that he would play, which proved to be false confidence. The Giants certainly could have used him Sunday as Manning and Randle weren't always on the same page -- which has been an reoccurring issue -- and the Giants weren't able to get much from Jerrel Jernigan.

Louis Murphy did catch his first touchdown pass.

"All week things happen throughout our team, coaches make decisions," Cruz said of Nicks not playing. "I have no part in that so obviously when I come in and I don't see him I'm going to be surprised."

Video: Cruz's 'hometown discount' a myth

July, 18, 2013

Adam Schefter explains why the "hometown discount" Victor Cruz said he gave the Giants is, in reality, non-existent.

Cruz apologizes for Zimmerman tweet

July, 14, 2013

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz apologized on Twitter for his tweet after George Zimmerman was found not guilty by a Florda jury of killing Trayvon Martin.

Cruz posted, then quickly deleted the following tweet: "Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up to him."

Sunday, Cruz went back on Twitter. In a span of five tweets, he wrote:

"My tweet last night was my initial interpretation of the reaction I was reading on twitter. I immediately realized my tweet was a mistake and I apologize, that's why I deleted it. I believe conversation not confrontation leads to change and progress. I never have and never will advocate violence under any circumstances and I pray that we all encourage and educate each other. The death of Trayvon Martin is an-- unthinkable tragedy that is any parent's worst nightmare. As a father, I want my daughter to grow up in a country that uses this tragedy to heal and grow and progress. My prayers continue to go out to Trayvon Martin's family."

Cruz was one of numerous athletes to express their thoughts on the trial's verdict via Twitter, and his tweet was one of the more controversial ones. Falcons receiver Roddy White tweeted the jurors should kill themselves, and he would also go on Twitter afterward and apologize for his remark.

The Giants recently signed Cruz to a five-year extension worth $43 million.

The contract negotiations might have been a grind, but at no point did Victor Cruz think he wouldn't be a Giant. He didn't get or entertain the idea of offers from other teams, and couldn't imagine playing far from his hometown of Paterson, N.J.

"I was in communication with my agent each and every day, every other day sometimes, and he assured me that things were moving in the right direction," the Pro Bowl wide receiver said. "There was never a time where I thought I wouldn't be a Giant. It was just a matter of time, if I was going to be with them for one year or six. I'll take the six right now, obviously."

So Cruz woke up Monday knowing he'd had enough back and forth with the Giants, hoping for a better deal. He signed, and later he posed under the Giants' logo at the team facility and tweeted a photo captioned "Makes it official."

The six-year deal is worth nearly $46 million and including over $15.6 million in guaranteed money, according to a source said. Cruz decided to sign now so that he didn't have to face another year of uncertainty.

"It was fun to finally get it done with," Cruz said. "I was smiling from ear to ear the whole time. I couldn't stop grinning. Good to put my ink on that piece of paper and feel good about it and feel confident about it and get back to football."

Click here for the full news story.

Eli laments Nicks, Cruz absence at OTAs

June, 6, 2013
Eli ManningAP Photo/Bill KostrounEli Manning certainly wanted Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz with him at OTAs.
When Eli Manning worked out with both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz at Duke in April, the quarterback figured he would get in more reps with his two receivers this offseason.

Manning knew Cruz had his contract to deal with but figured he would see Nicks. Instead, Manning has been passing to the likes of Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy at organized team activities.

"I knew there was a chance with Victor; he didn't have a contract," Manning said of not having his top receivers at OTAs. "You got some work. But I was just really hoping it [the Duke workouts] would be a little starter course to the spring. Not a substitute for what we’re doing on the field right now. This is stuff where we’re getting to go against cornerbacks, you get to work your technique."

Manning says it shouldn't take Nicks and Cruz long to get back into the flow of things with him. But he would certainly like to have them with him now.

"They've played in big games," Manning said. "They've run these plays hundreds of times before and so they'll be able to get in the flow of things. But you'd still like them back here just to work on things that we didn't do as well last year. They know what they're doing. It's just a matter of improving how they’re doing it sometimes."

"I gotta worry about the guys that are here," Manning later added. "That's all I can do. Making sure I know what I'm doing, working on the things that I need to improve on."

Cruz not present at first workout day

April, 15, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Pro Bowl receiver Victor Cruz did not attend the first morning of the Giants' voluntary offseason workout program, as expected.

The Giants started Phase 1 of their offseason program, which is basically strength and conditioning and physical rehab. Cruz, a restricted free agent, was not in the building by 11:30 a.m., when the last workout was scheduled.

Cruz isn't missing much and the workout is voluntary. A league source told ESPN senior NFL insider Chris Mortensen last week that Cruz was not expected to attend this week's strength and conditioning workouts, but that could change if there is movement in Cruz's extension talks with the team.

Cruz wants a long-term extension and has not yet signed his one-year RFA first-round tender of $2.879 million. He can still participate in the offseason workout program if he chooses to.

Defensive captain Justin Tuck said last week that Cruz has to do what is best for him, but showing up this week could potentially be a positive in contract talks.

"I think the biggest way to get things settled is to be there in good faith, I guess," Tuck said at an NFL Play 60 event at P.S. 21 in Staten Island last week. "But I can't answer questions for Victor. He has to do what's best for him. And hopefully, when it's all said and done, he's doing a salsa in a Giants uniform this season. That's all I'm worried about."

Teams have until April 19 to make a contract offer to restricted free agents, but any team interested in signing Cruz to a lucrative contract would also have to be willing to part with a first-round pick. The Giants have the right to match; if they choose not to, they will be compensated with a first-rounder. Cruz is not expected to receive a contract offer from another team before the deadline.

Cruz worked out with Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Louis Murphy last week at Duke University when the Manning brothers gathered some of their receivers to train.

Cruz recently hired agent Tom Condon to negotiate an extension for him. Condon has a good working relationship with the Giants and represents Manning, Mark Herzlich and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Tuck, Nicks, Manning, Herzlich, David Wilson, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Stevie Brown, Terrell Thomas, Jayron Hosley, Kevin Boothe, Justin Trattou, Zak DeOssie and Henry Hynoski were among the several Giants who were at the facility on Monday.

So, do you think it's a big deal whether Cruz shows up for voluntary strength and conditioning and rehab? Tell us below.

Sources: Vikings, Rams won't target Cruz

March, 16, 2013
Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz isn't a free-agent target of the Minnesota Vikings or St. Louis Rams, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Saturday, citing league sources.

That improves the odds that Cruz remains with the New York Giants, because the Vikings and Rams are the only teams with two first-round picks in the April draft.

The Giants tendered Cruz, a restricted free agent, with a first-round pick last week, owner John Mara announced, meaning that any interested team would have to give up a first-rounder to sign Cruz.

Minnesota signed receiver Greg Jennings on Friday to a five-year deal worth $47.5 million, reducing the likelihood the Vikings would go after Cruz. As for the Rams, they let Danny Amendola bolt for the Patriots over money, so spending big to get Cruz doesn't seem to fit with their free-agency philosophy. Amendola signed a five-year deal worth $31 million.

Cruz has been a popular, valuable wide receiver for the Giants, but he has also been extremely cost-efficient. Signed as an undrafted free agent from UMass, Cruz stands to make just under $3 million next season, up from his base salary of $540,000 in 2012.

Since the Giants would have the opportunity to match any offer for Cruz, a team would likely have to offer the wide receiver a high-priced deal in addition to giving up the first-round pick.

A team could still use its only first-round pick to try to nab Cruz. A reasonable scenario would be a team with a late first-round pick but a good number of later-round picks. Both San Francisco and the Patriots fit that description. Neither team, however, has a glaring need at wide receiver.

Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.

Analysis: Giants tender Cruz

March, 11, 2013

Owner John Mara said the Giants will tender three of their restricted free agents: Victor Cruz, Stevie Brown and Andre Brown.

Cruz will receive a first-round tender worth $2.879 million for this season. Stevie Brown and Andre Brown will get second-round tenders worth $2.023 million each.

So, what's next? A question that I almost get daily on Twitter is "Will Cruz walk?"

Fans are worried about losing Cruz. and understandably so since he has been arguably the Giants' most exciting player for the past two seasons. There are millions of reasons why the Giants should pay him millions, beginning with that he's a stand-up individual and budding marketing gem who caught Jay-Z's attention and already has deals hawking shoes, soup and cable TV.

Eli Manning and Cruz have hooked up 168 times for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns in the past two seasons. At 26, he is big-play threat entering his best years with a quarterback who is already in his prime. Cruz should only be better with a healthy Hakeem Nicks by his side this coming season.

Tendering Cruz is the Giants' move in trying to keep him around for at least this season and continue on working on a future deal.

Right of first refusal: What does that mean? Cruz's camp can negotiate with other teams until April 19. If a team opts to sign Cruz to an offer sheet, the Giants will have "right of first refusal." If the offer sheet is too rich for their blood, the Giants can choose not to match and would receive a first-round pick as compensation.

According to the New York Daily News, running back Mike Bell is the only RFA to change teams in the past four years, going from the Saints to the Eagles.

Teams generally like to hold on to their first-round picks. Also, a team will have to have cap space to pay Cruz a lucrative contract, certainly a lot more salary than they would have to invest in a first-round pick.

Cruz's camp will certainly be keeping an eye on how much receivers like Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings will sign for. And there's Percy Harvin, who was traded to Seattle and will reportedly sign a new contract.

Also consider that Miami recently re-signed Brian Hartline to a five-year deal worth as much as $31 million with $12.5 million guaranteed. Cruz is going to command more than that.

General manager Jerry Reese has to keep an eye on his team's future budget and wants to also lock down Nicks to an extension, with Nicks entering the final year of his contract. It will be difficult to pay both receivers top-notch money while also having to pay Manning and eventually Jason Pierre-Paul down the road.

Is it possible that a wide receiver-needy team like the Rams, who possess multiple first-round picks, could make a move for Cruz? Yes, it's possible. How likely, though, remains to be seen.

And if a team does offer Cruz a huge contract, it is possible the Giants might let Cruz go and take the first-round pick, since Reese values first-round picks. Also, while the Giants fully know how much Cruz has meant to them, they could argue that a former first-round pick like Nicks is worth paying bigger money to since they have had great success developing slot receivers like Steve Smith and Cruz and could try to do so again with someone like former third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan.

"Certainly, we''re taking a risk, but we would still have to right to match and if we decided not to do that, we're getting a first-round draft pick out of it," co-owner John Mara told reporters, according to the Star-Ledger. "So yeah, it is a risk for us, and he is an exciting, dynamic player. It's not going to shock me if somebody makes him an offer."

Two agents who have dealt with the Giants believe Cruz will stay with the Giants this season due to the RFA tender.

Odds are in the Giants' favor: Both agents cited how the Giants pretty much hold the cards and leverage, and that likely means Cruz will remain a Giant for at least one more season, giving both sides the year to work on an extension.

A source confirmed Cruz is hiring a new agent, CAA's Tom Condon, which was first reported by USA Today. How that impacts negotiations remains to be seen, but this could be positive for the Giants since Condon represents Manning, Mathias Kiwanuka, Mark Herzlich and Osi Umenyiora (who hired Condon last season).

If you are a Giants and Cruz fan, just hope that another team does not make a monster offer to Cruz over the next month. Otherwise things could get sticky. For now, though, the odds are that Cruz and the salsa remain in New York for at least one more season.

Coughlin: 'We want Cruz to be a Giant'

March, 5, 2013
NEW YORK -- Coach Tom Coughlin wants Victor Cruz around for a long time and expects the salsa-dancing, Pro Bowl wide receiver to remain with the Giants.

But Coughlin understands "it takes two to tango" and knows there is a limitation to what the New York Giants can do to sign Cruz, a restricted free agent, to an extension.

"We want Victor Cruz to be a Giant," Coughlin said before promoting his new book, "Earn The Right To Win: How Success in Any Field Starts with Superior Preparation," on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesVictor Cruz took in a couple of Knicks games last week while he waited for free agency to begin.
"That is the bottom line. However, it takes two to tango. We would certainly want to do everything in our power to keep him here. Ownership has indicated that. Front office has indicated that.

"That is where we are," he continued while standing in a green room. "We will do whatever we can. Obviously, we have some type of limitation. We do have other players to sign. He is a huge part [of the Giants' success] and he is very, very popular. He is a wonderful young man, he is a great story. That story should stay here."

The problem is that the two sides have not been able to work out an extension for months. During the 2012 season, Cruz was confident and optimistic that an extension would be reached after saying the structure of a deal was in place.

But the Giants and Cruz remain apart as free agency approaches. The Giants will likely tender Cruz; if they give him the highest restricted free-agent tender, they would receive a first-round pick as compensation if they chose not to match an offer from another team.

The Giants recently re-signed free agent left tackle Will Beatty to a five-year deal worth as much as $38.75 million. The team had to release veterans like Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty and Michael Boley to clear cap space. The Giants likely have some more cap maneuvering to do to potentially re-sign left guard Kevin Boothe and tight end Martellus Bennett.

Co-owner John Mara recently told the Newark Star-Ledger that the Giants have a spending limit on what they can do with Cruz. The team also wants to lock down wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is entering the final year of his contract.

"It's obvious that we have had to part ways with some very, very special players and special people that have helped us win one or two championships," Coughlin said. "I would prefer not to lose anybody, but that is just the nature of the business."

"We have to wait and see," Coughlin later added when asked if the Giants will do more in free agency besides trying to keep some of their own free agents. "It is all cap-driven."

Coughlin has spoken with Cruz recently. He doesn't know if the receiver will get the contract he wants, but he does expect Cruz -- a native of Paterson, N.J. -- to stay here.

"I expect him to be a Giant, yes," Coughlin said. "He knows that we want him to be a Giant. He is well aware of that."

Ramses: 'I am ready for something new'

February, 28, 2013
Ramses BardenGrant Halverson/Getty ImagesCal Poly product Ramses Barden played in 29 games in four seasons with the Giants.
Ramses Barden is days away from free agency and he sounds excited to get the process started of potentially moving on to a new team.

The Giants unrestricted free agent sounded fully ready to move on from the team that drafted him in the third round in 2009 out of Cal Poly.

“I’m really kind of excited for the offseason,” Barden said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “As much fun as I have had in New York and yeah, I am comfortable there, it is probably best for me to start looking other places, for a new system, for a refreshed sense of welcoming. I think everybody can benefit from newness in their lives. And this is going to be one of those for me.”

The 6-foot-6 Barden is ready for an opportunity to play –- something he didn’t get a chance to do often with the Giants. With the Giants, Barden was buried on the depth chart. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are the starters and Rueben Randle looks primed to take over the third receiver role.

Barden played in a total of 29 games in his four seasons with just one start. He had a total of 29 receptions for 394 yards, but he had 9 catches for 138 yards in his lone start against Carolina this past season with Nicks out.

He was unable to stick as the team's third receiver last season. Over the years, he didn’t see much playing time due to receivers ahead of him or injuries he suffered during his Giants tenure as well.

“Obviously, there was some issue early on,” Barden said when asked to sum up his four years with the Giants coming out of a small school like Cal Poly. “But when it came to opportunities, I always seized the opportunity and I can stand proud on that.

“I was always the team player, I was always working,” he continued. “A lot of times I was open. And there’s no ill feelings for me. I had a great experience with the Giants. Had I had more opportunities to seize, I would have seized them. And I am confident in that.”

Barden is eager to show what he can do with that big frame. And it certainly sounds like he is ready to show that somewhere else.

“It is not that I am not open,” he said when asked if he is open to returning to the Giants. “There’s something important, there’s something about renewal, refreshing...every so often, a dog sheds, an animal sheds, and they become bigger and grow into a new skin, a new coat.

“This is just my process. This is my evolution as a receiver where I feel I am ready for something new.”

Giants' offense puts up shocking stats

December, 23, 2012
Eli Manning Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesEli Manning, who faced heavy pressure all afternoon, takes a sack against the Ravens' D.
BALTIMORE -- The numbers are simply stunning.

A week after being shut out by the Falcons, the Giants were even worse against the Ravens on Sunday.

Yes, they put up 14 points. But half of those came during garbage time in the fourth quarter, with the score 33-7 and the outcome no longer in doubt.

The Giants had 256 yards of offense against Atlanta. Against Baltimore, they accumulated just 186 -- and 80 of those came on that final, inconsequential drive.

"We did nothing offensively," said coach Tom Coughlin.

Eli Manning completed just 14 of 28 passes, for a paltry 150 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw returned after missing last week's game with a knee injury, but had just nine carries for 39 yards. A week after having just three catches for 15 yards against the Falcons, Victor Cruz had three catches for 21 yards against the Ravens. And Hakeem Nicks was shut out, for the first time in his NFL career.

"I don’t even want to talk about it," said Nicks. When asked if it was something the defense did, Nicks said, "I don’t know what it was."

Bradshaw had a little more to say. "We just didn't come to play today," Bradshaw said. "It was a big game. This was one we needed. They wanted it more than we did."

To be fair, Manning didn't always have a lot of time to make plays. The Ravens applied lots of pressure, with three sacks and nine quarterback hits.

"We couldn't get anything going," said Manning. "The Ravens did a very good job on defense. They put a lot of pressure on me, and they gave us a lot of different looks. They made it hard for us."

Now the Giants have made it very hard for themselves, in terms of making the playoffs. They'll need to beat the Eagles next Sunday, but they'll need some other games to go their way, too.

Last year in Week 16, needing to beat the Jets to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Giants were sparked by a 99-yard touchdown by Cruz.

There were no plays like that in Week 16 this year. Just two weeks after scoring 52 points against the Saints, the Giants' offense has disintegrated.

"What has happened over the course of the last couple of weeks is very difficult to explain," said Coughlin. "We had a resounding win against New Orleans and felt real good about ourselves, and then I have no explanation as to why we're in the position that we're in."

Coughlin breaks down loss to Atlanta

December, 17, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin met with the media Monday and broke down the team's 34-0 loss to the Falcons on Sunday. Here are some of the points Coughlin harped on, including a rather surprising opinion about the first half of the game.

NOT BAD?: Despite being down 17-0 at the end of the first half, Coughlin wasn't that upset with what he saw.

"To be honest with you, the first half was not bad," Coughlin said.

Coughlin pinned some of the blame on himself, but the Giants couldn't execute. They had two interceptions, a missed field goal, and couldn't convert twice on fourth down. Coughlin said he went for it on fourth down because he wanted to galvanize his squad.

MISSED TACKLES: Defensive tackle Chris Canty said the Giants missed 18 tackles in the game, as they allowed Atlanta to rush for 129 yards on the day. It's a problem that has plagued the Giants in the past.

"It’s frustrating anytime. Defensively and special teams, that’s what you have to do," Coughlin said. "Yesterday, we made a specific point about it because of Michael Turner’s history and the quality of back that he is, but not only that, the size of the receivers and the power and speed in which they play. You had to swarm the ball and get them down right away without allowing them to have a chance to get going."

COMING UP SHORT: The Giants went 0-for-3 on the day in fourth-and-short situations, with David Wilson being stonewalled on 4th-and-1, and Manning throwing two incomplete passes to Victor Cruz and Kregg Lumpkin. Coughlin saw chances to grab the first down, but the Giants couldn't make the play.

"The first short-yardage run, I think we had a chance; a couple things had to happen. We had to combo-block and get off and we didn’t get up on the mike-backer," Coughlin said. "We didn’t really clean the hole out and so it was congested. He just never had a real chance of any kind of day light to squeeze through.

"The other two were passes and the one (to Cruz), there wasn’t real good separation and I don’t know that there was pressure to throw it, but it was thrown. That was an incompletion. Later on, we were trying to go in the right spot (to Lumpkin), but the ball was tipped."

NO PASS RUSH: The Giants had just one sack on the day, courtesy of Canty, and struggled to get close to Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. The once vaunted Giants pass rush is now tied for 16th in the league with 32 sacks.

"We’re being well pass-protected. We’re not getting, and when we do get the one-on-one, we don’t seem to be able to get there," Coughlin said. "The rhythm of the throw is gone. The ball is off. Should that be the case consistently? No, of course not. We should have more pressure on the quarterback, but it has not happened for us and so we continue to strive for it to happen."

Cruz plans trip to visit Newtown family

December, 16, 2012

ATLANTA -- New York Giants star Victor Cruz plans to visit the family of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to present the cleats and gloves the wide receiver wore in Sunday's game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Cruz used the equipment to pay tribute to Jack Pinto, 6. Cruz was the favorite player of the young Giants fan, who was among those murdered by a gunman Friday in Newtown, Conn.

After an emotional phone conversation with Pinto's parents and 11-year-old brother Saturday night, Cruz wrote "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" on one of his game-day shoes and Jack's name and the words "My Hero" on the other. He also wrote "This one is 4 u!" on one of his gloves.

"I definitely plan on giving my cleats and gloves to the family. [I'm] going to try to head down there sometime this week," Cruz said after the Giants' 34-0 defeat. "Just spend some time with them, talk to them a little bit, and get to know them a little bit. … I wanted to go down there and pay my respects in person.”

Cruz said Dean and Tricia Pinto, Jack's parents, told him they planned on burying their son in Cruz's No. 80 jersey. "I told them I was honored," Cruz said. "I couldn't even express to them how great that made me feel, and how big of an honor that is."

Cruz promised to "help their family any way I can." Earlier Sunday he had tweeted, "Today's game is for you Jack." Though Cruz said he was saddened and disappointed by the Giants' failure in the Georgia Dome, he found comfort in the connection he made with a devastated family.

"It felt good to honor a family that was going through so much," Cruz said. "Messages can go out to these athletes, and some athletes just brush them off. So it felt good to be one of these athletes that really listened to that family, and really did something to pay tribute to them."

Drive of the Game: Giants go for it on fourth

December, 16, 2012
Trying to pick the drive of the game from the rubble of the Giants' 34-0 loss Sunday to the Falcons is a bit like sifting wheat germ with the idea that a flake of gold might turn up when you just know there's no gold in there.

The closest approximation for New York came in the second quarter, when the Giants set up shop at their 10-yard-line courtesy of a holding call against Justin Tryon, as Atlanta punted into the end zone.

New York already trailed 17-0, but a field goal or touchdown as halftime approached would've pulled the Giants within two scores.

With 3:42 remaining in the half, Eli Manning found wide receiver Domenik Hixon for nine yards, and then after an incomplete pass connected with Hakeem Nicks for 24 yards over the middle.

Here, the Giants burned their first timeout, with 2:52 to go.
[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesThe Giants' D gave up a 40-yard touchdown catch to Julio Jones to start the second half and put the game out of reach.

Hixon then took a short pass to the right side and turned it into a 37-yard gain down the sideline, and it looked like the G-Men had something going.

On the last play before the two-minute warning, Kregg Lumpkin carried behind right guard for a couple yards to the Atlanta 18-yard-line.

After the stoppage, Manning found Hixon over the middle, but Atlanta reserve safety Robert McClain wrestled him down for a 7-yard gain to the Atlanta 11 when the Giants needed eight for a first down.

On third-and-1, Falcons linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas snuffed a New York sweep left as they corralled Lumpkin for no gain.

Timeout, Giants, with 1:14 to go.

A field goal would have made it a two-score game, but Lawrence Tynes had already missed a 30-yarder. This would have been a 28-yard try.

The offense stayed on the field, and Manning was flushed right. He threw on the run to wide receiver Victor Cruz. The ball was a little low, about knee height, and Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel arrived at roughly the same time to blast Cruz from behind as the ball hit the receiver's hands – perhaps a micro-second sooner.

There was no call, and the Giants' last chance to make a game of it was gone. Atlanta ran out the clock, and then went 80 yards in eight plays to start the second half. They led 24-0 after a 40-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to wide receiver Julio Jones.

Maybe that was the drive of the game; it clearly put this one out of reach.