New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) and fullback Henry Hynoski sit on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The Lions defeated the Giants, 35-14. (AP Photo/Paul
Paul Sancya
September 09, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Victor Cruz understood the need for Eli Manning to look for supporting receivers such as tight end Larry Donnell and wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan early in Monday night's 35-14 loss to the Lions.

But the star pass-catcher, one of the Giants' five team captains, also knew that targeting him just twice in the first half is not a winning formula.

''I think it's important,'' Cruz said. ''In order for us to be successful, there needs to be ... increased targets in my direction and in other playmakers' direction like Rueben Randle. But that all comes with continuity, getting the running game going, building what we want to build as the game continues.''

Cruz said Donnell made some big catches in third-down situations while Jernigan played well while facing man defenses.

Cruz, however, had just two catches for 24 yards after Manning targeted him only six times. Manning looked toward Randle only three times as he finished with two catches for 1 yard.

''If we can get into that rhythm early on, we can get into passing the ball and opening up plays a little bit,'' he said.

The Giants' early effort was devoid of any sense of rhythm, as the offense gained only 75 yards in the first half. Donnell and Jernigan were clearly the stars with a combined seven catches for 62 yards, including Donnell's 1-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter.

Cruz had a ball go off his hands for a third-quarter interception as the Giants were trying to climb back into the game, down 20-7.

Cruz said he and Randle got less attention because of the Lions' defense.

''It was just the way the game unfolded,'' he said. ''I'm not saying it was deliberate or that he just wasn't looking this way. The way the coverage played out, a lot of the plays wound up getting shifted to JJ's side and we had some seams open up for Donnell. But you want to make an effort to get Rueben and myself the ball.''

Manning appeared to have problems communicating the offense with the hand signals offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's west coast scheme demands. But coach Tom Coughlin refused to blame the unit's continuing troubles on that. Instead, he chalked it up to poor execution.

''I'm not going that way,'' Coughlin said. ''I don't see it. A lot of mistakes you're seeing are technical things, not communication.''

''(Detroit) had a couple of wrinkles we saw throughout the preseason. We didn't execute very well into it,'' he said. ''There wasn't enough continuity or consistency.''

Finding that, Cruz said, will get him more involved in a passing game the Giants expect the 2012 Pro Bowl receiver to lead. It will also be a big factor in avoiding a repeat of last year's disastrous 0-6 start.

''It's about keeping in the mind of our team that this is correctable,'' Cruz said. ''We can come out of this with some positivity for Week 2.''

NOTES -- Coughlin said he was still waiting for results on an MRI on punter Steve Weatherford's high left ankle sprain, suffered late in the first quarter when Detroit's Jerome Couplin hit him.Coughlin also said the neck injury DE Jason Pierre-Paul received bears watching, even though he felt good and returned to the game after X-rays were negative. He will be listed as limited for Wednesday's practice... In a radio interview, S Antrel Rolle blamed the defensive problems that led to 417 yards allowed on laxity and a lack of fight. But MLB Jon Beason said it was a matter of having more fun. ''But it's only fun when you're making plays,'' Beason said. ''What you're trying to get across to the guys in front of you is, `Somebody step up and make a play and have fun. Once you make a play you're going to get on a roll and you start flying around and doing it together.''

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