What it means: The New York Giants looked like a team stuck in the preseason as they were stunned by the Washington Redskins. After struggling in the preseason offensively, the Giants looked out of sync on offense and defense. Rex Grossman kept chipping away at the Giants' secondary for most of the game and when the defense absolutely needed a stop in the fourth quarter, it could not come up with one, as the Redskins drove 70 yards to score a touchdown to go up 28-14 with 5:04 remaining. This came after the Giants had a field goal blocked that could have potentially gotten them within 21-17 early in the fourth.
Simply put, this is a bad loss for the Giants no matter how improved the Redskins are. The Giants have had a nightmarish preseason with all the injuries and free-agent defections. And with a brutal second-half schedule, the Giants have to get their act together soon and hope that Justin Tuck can return to action this week.
Giant injuries: Tuck was ruled out shortly before the game with pain in his neck. The Giants had to start the season without their two best defensive ends as Osi Umenyiora didn’t make the trip as he recovers from knee surgery.
The Giants already were forced to start rookie middle linebacker Greg Jones in place of Jon Goff, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL on Tuesday.
No more tipping please: Eli Manning led the league in interceptions last season with 25 picks, several of them coming off tipped balls. At the start of the third quarter, Manning had another ball tipped for an interception -- and this time it was returned for a touchdown.
Right tackle Kareem McKenzie went low on rookie defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who batted Manning’s pass in the air before picking it off and running it in for a 9-yard touchdown to push the Redskins up 21-14 early in the third quarter.
The offense: The passing game is still a work in progress after struggling in the preseason. Manning hit some big plays like his 68-yard pass to Hakeem Nicks and a 41-yard pass to Ballard. But there were moments when the offense seemed out of sync. Manning went deep on one pass for Mario Manningham, who was nowhere close to the throw.
The running game looked much better in the preseason but didn’t have much room to run against the Redskins. The Giants did put together one good drive, pounding the ball on the ground until Ahmad Bradshaw scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter. Jacobs rushed for 21 yards on that 85-yard drive, including a 14-yard gain that set up the Bradshaw touchdown.
But when the Giants needed an important yard, they were stopped twice. In the third quarter, the Giants had a fourth-and-1 at the Redskins' 31 and went for it but Bradshaw was stuffed. And in the fourth quarter, on a third-and-1 at the Redskins' 18, the Giants pitched the ball right to Bradshaw and he was stopped short of the first down.
Manning did score on a 2-yard rushing touchdown earlier in the first quarter. It was the fourth rushing touchdown of Manning’s career.
The defense: Perry Fewell started Jones at middle linebacker and the rookie played mostly on running downs. The Giants then sometimes brought in rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams to go with outside linebacker Michael Boley while moving Kiwanuka down low to rush the passer in passing situations.
The Giants also struggled to cover tight end Fred Davis, who killed the Giants with five big catches.
The Giants also tried to bring pressure on Grossman and sacked him twice to stop one potential scoring drive in the third quarter. But up to that point, the Giants couldn’t get enough pressure on Grossman without Tuck and Umenyiora in there.
Special teams woes: The Giants special teams made another big mistake, this time allowing a Lawrence Tynes 38-yard field goal attempt to be blocked early in the fourth quarter. The Giants were down 21-14 and Pierre-Paul had given the Giants momentum with a strip sack on Grossman that gave New York the ball in Redskins' territory. But Orakpo was credited with the block to stop the Giants.
What's next: The Giants welcome former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo back when the Rams come to town for a Monday night meeting. The Rams were roughed up by the Eagles on Sunday as wide receiver Danny Amendola dislocated his elbow and quarterback Sam Bradford hurt his right index finger. Bradford says he is fine for Monday night but running back Steven Jackson hurt his quad. The Giants hope they will have Tuck back. It remains to be seen whether Umenyiora will be able to practice this coming week.