EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' long-awaited dress rehearsal for the starting offense and defense is in the books, and it's fair to say that the reviews aren't very favorable.
The game itself ended in a 22-20 Patriots win at MetLife Stadium, putting a bow on the Giants' winless preseason. But more important that the final score was the showing put forth by the Giants' starting offense--without Kenny Golladay, Saquon Barkley, Kyle Rudolph, and Kadarius Toney. New York's starting offense managed just 157 net yards of offense and seven points, the lone scoring coming with 2:05 left in the first half when quarterback Daniel Jones connected with tight end Kaden Smith on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
The Giants starting offense should have had at least another touchdown in that first half, except Jones, who finished 17 of 22 for 135 yards, threw a backbreaking interception in the end zone on a ball intended for tight end Evan Engram. That turnover snuffed out the Giants' best starting field position of the half following a Blake Martinez interception on the prior series.
Jones, who did seem more at ease running the offense this week, didn't get much help from his offensive line, which insisted of at least three different combinations. The starting group of Andrew Thomas, Ted Larsen, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Nate Solder struggled, allowing two sacks against Jones and a handful of pressures.
In particular, Thomas, the Giants' left tackle had a rough night, allowing 1.5 of the two sacks and at least one other quarterback pressure while Solder, getting the start at right tackle, allowed the other half-sack against Jones.
The good news is the Giants starting defense held its own against both Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones. The Giants held the Patriots to two first-half field goals, the first a 41-yarder by Nick Folk in the first quarter on the opening drive, and the second a 48-yarder in the second quarter by Quinn Nordin.
The Patriots opened up the scoring in the third quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run up the middle by running back Rhamondre Stevenson, giving the Patriots a 19-7 lead.
The Giants, operating with their backup offense led by quarterback Mike Glennon, cut the Patriots' lead to 19-14 when Glennon found receiver Alex Bachman for a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Nordin's 37-yard field goal with 6:23 left in the game increased the Patriots' lead to 22-14. But in a last-ditch effort to tie the score, the Giants, led by Glennon, capped a three-play, 56-yard drive eating 19 seconds with the quarterback finding receiver Damion Willis in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 22-20, Patriots.
In his first preseason action, this summer following the trade of kicker Ryan Santoso to the Panthers last week, Giants kicker Graham Gano missed a 41-yard field goal wide right.
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Devontae Booker was the Giants' leading rusher in the first half with 14 yards on seven carries, the Giants running game finishing with 34 yards on 12 carries, a forgettable 2.8 yards per carry average.
Starting defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence II delivered a four-tackle night that also included one sacks, one quarterback hi and one tackle for a loss, tops among the defensive starters.
So much for the Giants trying to escape this game injury free. The most concerning of the injuries this week is the left calf injury tight end Evan Engram suffered with about three minutes to go in the second quarter. Engram limped off the field and as he sat on the bench being checked by doctors, he had his head in his hands, looking despondent.
The Giants also had a pair of receivers get nicked up this week. C.J. Board, who appears to have locked down a roster spot with his special teams play, suffered an elbow injury early in the second quarter, but he returned to the game. And third-year receiver Darius Slayton suffered a foot/ankle injury and was considered questionable ) is questionable to return.
Reserve interior offensive lineman Ted Larsen was ruled out late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. The good news though is that Laresen remained standing on the sideline, which would suggest that his knee injury isn't serious.
Receivers John Ross, Kenny Golladay, Austin Mack, and Kadarius Toney; running back Saquon Barkley; cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Josh Jackson; linebacker Elerson Smith; guard Shane Lemieux; defensive lineman Danny Shelton; and tight end Kyle Rudolph did not suit up for the game.
The Giants started Nate Solder at right tackle and Ted Larsen at left guard. Both played for a couple of series to start the game before being relieved by Matt Peart at right tackle and Kenny Wiggins at left guard. The
Martinez's pick gave the Giants their best starting field position of the game at the Patriots 41-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Giants offense couldn't do anything with it as quarterback Daniel Jones, who up until that point had been playing well, threw behind tight end Evan Engram, who was open, on a 3rd-and-1.
Defensive back D'Angelo Ross picked off Jones to snuff out an otherwise promising scoring drive. The Patriots then converted that turnover into their second field goal and their second score in their first three drives.