The Giants’ first team offense appeared to be headed nowhere again on Friday night against the Jets. Eli Manning and company’s first five possessions of the game all ended in punts, and Big Blue found itself down 10-0 to the Jets with less than two minutes to play in the first half. However, as they took over the ball deep in their own territory with 1:53 to play, everything seemed to click into place.
During the final drive of the first half, Manning completed seven passes, three of which went to Victor Cruz for 52 yards. With Hakeem Nicks now playing for the Colts and first round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. still sidelined with a hamstring injury, the connection between Manning and Cruz has never been more important to the Giants’ offense.
“It was good,” said Cruz of the 11-play scoring drive that ended with a Manning touchdown pass to Rueben Randle, “It was big for us to kind of get into a rhythm and build on some first downs and get things going a little bit. We needed that and we needed it in a bad way. I wish it would have come a little earlier other than the two-minute drill. In typical Eli fashion, we get a two-minute drill and get it done.”
As Manning struggled in 2013, so did Cruz along with him. After catching 19 total touchdown passes during his first two NFL seasons, Cruz was held to just four last season. His 998 receiving yards last season were also a career low. In 2014, new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is trying to reinvigorate Manning, Cruz, and the entire Giants offense. Friday night was a good example of what McAdoo’s system can do when it’s working properly.
“I think it’s supposed to be plays that move the ball down the field efficiently in a smart way,” said Cruz about the offense, “A mixture of runs and pass, in order to keep the defense off balance, and I think we did that.”
The Giants haven’t exactly taken to McAdoo’s offense like fish to water, but the game against the Jets was progress, for sure.
“We didn’t start as good as we wanted to and I think we just came back with the third series and the fourth series and we just kept going,” explained Cruz, “We didn’t sulk or anything, we just kept going. We knew it was going to be a process but we got it done and we were able to move the ball and do some good things.”
Although Cruz wasn’t one of five Giants to score a touchdown on Friday night, the MetLife Stadium crowd did not go home without seeing a little salsa dancing. Jets quarterback Matt Simms did his best Cruz impression after throwing a touchdown pass to Greg Salas in the fourth quarter.
“That’s my guy,” said Cruz, “Me and him, we train a little bit in the offseason together. He throws me a couple passes here and there when I need a quarterback over there with my trainer. He’s good. He’s a good dude.”