Nicks Stars Late But Giants Fall to Jets

AP Photo - Tim Larsen

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ– Hakeem Nicks has arrived. New York's top pick chipped in a pair of huge plays late in the game – a beautiful, sliding 22-yard catch in the back of the end zone, followed by a 71-yard bomb that Nicks collected and raced down the right sideline to paydirt. However, on each occasion the Giants were unable to convert their two-point conversion try and they fell to the Jets, 27-25.

"It felt good, but at the same time I'm still trying to get comfortable," said Nicks, who finished with six catches for 144 yards. "It's always nice to do that, to get in the end zone. It was just two ‘go' routes. He (David Carr) threw it and I went up and made the play."

"I thought Hakeem Nicks played well," Tom Coughlin said. "I thought he made some plays, he created some opportunities for us to see him and his contribution and how he might be utilized."

Thank heavens at least he did. The Giants first-team offense looked very good on its first drive – and that was pretty much it. Eli Manning, who has had better evenings, led his troops 60 yards – aided by two Jets penalties – and capped the march with an 8-yard TD pass to Brandon Jacobs in the front right corner of the end zone.

Mario Manningham exhibited some ability, grabbing a 17-yard pass to convert a third down on the drive and later in the game drawing a 33-yard pass interference penalty on Lito Sheppard.

As modest as Manningham's total contributions were (two catches for 22 yards with the starting offense), he was New York's best receiver while Manning was at the helm. Manningham was the only wideout with more than one catch from Manning, who finished by completing nine-of-21 passes for 91 yards, the short TD to Jacobs and an interception that wasn't his fault.

Actually each of Big Blue's starting receivers made a huge gaffe, which helped Manning's numbers look so pedestrian. First Steve Smith dropped what would have been a 90-yard touchdown pass. He had at least five yards of separation near midfield but couldn't collect Manning's perfectly-thrown toss. Then Domenik Hixon was unable to come up with a catchable Manning pass, which Hixon batted into the air where it was picked off by Jets LB David Harris. Not to be outdone by his mates, Manningham later was unable to corral a perfect Carr pass that would have been at least a 40-yard gain.

With the opportunity to establish confidence in themselves and also show the rest of the NFL world that they're more than adequate, the WRs did just the opposite, raising more questions than providing answers.

However, the news was better regarding Jacobs, who left during the first quarter to have X-rays on his right arm. The tests proved negative, but his one carry after returning to action with his forearm wrapped was a nightmare for Jacobs. He had a helmetless Bart Scott rip the ball right out of his clutches, forcing and recovering a fumble in one fell swoop.

"I wanted it more than he wanted it," Scott boasted.

Manning wanted to see more consistent play from his unit.

"We did some good things and moved the ball at times, but we settled for too many field goals," he said. "The two turnovers were very costly. One stopped us from getting a touchdown, and the other kept us from a chance of putting points on the board. We've got a few things to go back and work on."

On the flip side, Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez looked like a seasoned vet. He was very poised en route to completing 13-of-20 passes for 149 yards and a 31-yard TD to WR Chansi Stuckey. On that play Sanchez eluded a bevy of would-be Giants pass rushers and fired a strike to a wide-open Stuckey, who then proceeded to juke and deke at least three Giants while traversing the final five yards or so before crossing the goal line.

"I was impressed with the rookie, I really am," Justin Tuck said of Sanchez. "We had some pressure on him all game, and he was able to make some plays. He seemed to run the offense really well, and I was impressed."

While Tuck wasn't generally pleased with his unit's effort, he understood that his side was missing some key components.

"After last week's performance (in Chicago), we wanted to come out here and improve," he said. "We did some good things, but we still have a lot to work on. We had a good opponent, and this is as close to regular-season action as you are going to get. Things were a little bit better, but we are still not satisfied. We made some plays but could've made more. We will go in and watch the film and come out next week and continue to build. We had some guys not going that are going to be there in the regular season. That's not an excuse, but our chemistry is not where we'd like it to be. We'll continue to grow and get better every day."

After two consecutive subpar exhibition showings, time is certainly getting short for Big Blue as opening day is now less than two weeks away.

"That was a tough game for us to lose," Coughlin said. "I thought we had some chances and had some opportunities; obviously we didn't take advantage of the two-point plays."

In the end, the final results of this one might not matter all that much in the big picture. But the Jets sure as heck left their final Giants Stadium meeting with the Giants feeling a lot better about themselves than the home team did.

Extra Points

After being criticized during the week by QBs coach Chris Palmer, David Carr played well against the Jets, most especially by leading Big Blue on a 99-yard touchdown drive. Carr finished 12-for-17 for 181 yards and the two TDs to Nicks.

"I thought David Carr played well," Coughlin said…

The reserve defense allowed Aundrae Allison loose for a 70-yard TD grab, which served to be the winning points for the Jets…

Rocky Bernard had a pretty impressive debut after missing the first two summer contests. He dropped Leon Washington for a two-yard loss early in the third quarter among his two tackles…

Mathias Kiwanuka made his case for more playing time, swooping in from behind to drop Sanchez for a 9-yard loss on the final play of the opening period…

The Giants now trail in the preseason series, 22-18-1. The Giants are 2-4 in preseason play vs. the Jets under Coughlin. The Jets won last year's game, 10-7…

The following Giants did not suit up against the Jets: RB Andre Brown, CB Aaron Ross, LB Michael Boley, LB Antonio Pierce, OL Orrin Thompson, WR David Tyree, DT Jay Alford and DT Chris Canty.

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