Giants need jolt before season starts

BALTIMORE -- In the third preseason game, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin got a good look at his team.

And what he saw was about as unsightly and smelly as a dirty floor of a Baltimore crab house at the end of a busy Saturday night. Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens picked apart Perry Fewell's defense with a no-huddle offense in a 24-10 win over the Giants that wasn't as close as the final score.

Making matters worse was the fact that Coughlin felt some of his money players didn't bring it.

"Some people played well and played hard," a disappointed Coughlin said. "We just didn't have enough. We need to see a lot out of this group within the next 15 days."

"My word is 'energy,'" the coach continued. "The defense has been more than the offense. The offense has to be methodical and has to be able to execute and to put themselves in position where plays are made. There is more needed there. Some people have to play better than they have been playing. Some people are given credit for being good football players; they got to get going. It's time to get going. Let's go."

Coughlin didn't reveal the culprits, but he will have plenty of ammunition once he is done scouring the DVD of the game.

It was really easy to find those who did play well. Defensive end Justin Tuck and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, starting in place of injured Chris Canty, had two sacks apiece. Cornerback Corey Webster had one interception and broke up three passes.

Rookie punter Matt Dodge got plenty of work, punting nine times and averaging 49.1 yards. He boomed a 74-yarder out of the back of his own end zone. Wide receiver Steve Smith looked good, getting open a couple of times, and the Victor Cruz show continued as the rookie in all likelihood solidified a roster spot with four receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.

But it wasn't pretty otherwise.

Playing with a no-huddle offense that wasn't really a rapid hurry-up offense, the Ravens still kept the Giants off balance.

With cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas out with injuries, Flacco completed 21 of 34 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Tight end Todd Heap blistered the Giants' linebackers and safeties for six catches for 69 yards and one touchdown. And new Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin had four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.

After being forced to punt on their opening drive, the Ravens scored 17 straight points on their next three possessions. The Ravens ran 10 or more plays on each drive that consisted of 62 or more yards. The Giants simply could not get a stop.

Even worse, Flacco said the Baltimore offense should have scored more points. By the time halftime hit, the Ravens were up 17-3.

"We didn't click on all cylinders, and obviously you don't want to do that in your third preseason game," Tuck said. "They surprised us a little bit with the no-huddle there, and it took us a couple of series to get used to what they were doing to us."

"We didn't come out as a team energized. We can't allow us to think that once the season gets here, we can turn it on."

Offensively, Eli Manning was a bit rusty in his first game back since starring in his own bloody horror flick against the Jets in the preseason opener. Manning went just 9-for-18 for 63 yards and one interception in the first half. Under pressure, he also missed a wide-open Smith on a deep bomb. Coughlin decided to take his franchise quarterback out after halftime to keep him out of harm's way.

Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 63 yards rushing on 13 carries, but when the Giants needed 1 yard, they couldn't get it. With a second-and-1 at the Baltimore 15-yard-line, New York handed the ball off to Bradshaw three straight times. He came up empty three straight times behind an offensive line that still has yet to play with all its starters healthy.

If this were a regular-season game, Coughlin would have kicked the field goal, but he said the offense wanted to go for it.

It was one of the few moments of energy he saw from his team all night. The coach knows that, had this been a regular-season game, the Giants would've lost badly with the same kind of effort.

He has one preseason game left, against the Patriots on Thursday, and just two weeks remaining to get this team ready for the Carolina Panthers.

When asked how far the Giants are from being where he wants them to be, Coughlin let out a big, "ooohhh."

"We're a ways," the coach said. "I mean, I don't know. One good solid week of practice with everybody practicing ... maybe. But that's not gonna happen. There isn't a team in the league at this time of the year that doesn't play with one or two guys out. That shouldn't hold the rest of us back."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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