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Greg Logan

Chris Johnson looks fresh as Jets emphasize run

Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) celebrate his

Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) celebrate his first TD as a Jet during the first half of a game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. (Credit: Lee S. Weissman)

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In his first game as a Jet, Chris Johnson topped the 8,000-yard rushing mark. But as exciting as it might have been for the Jets to sign the sixth player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons, he also comes with a warning label about the diminished tread on his tires.

From the moment the Jets signed Johnson in April, the plan always was to use him as part of a rotation with running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell because of concerns that Johnson no longer can be the workhorse who averaged 18.6 carries per game for Tennessee, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Friday.

Describing the rotation as a way to get the most of what Johnson has left, Mornhinweg said, "It certainly could work if we do it the right way. [That] has been my thought for quite some time . . . I think highly of Chris. There's no question he still has it. I think he'll have it several more years. He's a fantastic player."

Two games into the new season, the Jets lead the NFL in rushing with 179.0 yards per game. It makes sense for them to emphasize the run Monday night against a Chicago defense ranked 27th in rushing defense (161.0) as a means of controlling the ball and keeping Bears quarterback Jay Cutler off the field.

But coach Rex Ryan suggested the Bears will put eight men in the box, as Green Bay did in holding the Jets to 146 rushing yards this past Sunday. More importantly, the Packers limited Johnson to 21 yards on 12 carries after he had 68 yards on 13 carries in the opening win over the Raiders.

"All defenses are going to crowd the box," Johnson said Friday. "We ran a couple of plays [at Green Bay] trying to get on the perimeter. We weren't too successful, but it's a work in progress."

If the Jets create running room for Johnson, he still has major-league speed. He expressed no problem sharing carries, but he still is adapting to Mornhinweg's West Coast offense after six seasons in a traditional pro set lining up behind the quarterback.

"Here, most of the offense is from the shotgun," Johnson said. "It's different because you're four or five yards away from the line when you get the ball. In a regular offense, you're seven or eight yards back. You have to adjust."

Notes & quotes: Dee Milliner (ankle, quadriceps) and Eric Decker (hamstring) did not practice . . . The NFL fined Muhammad Wilkerson $20,000 for an unnecessary- roughness penalty and Sheldon Richardson $8,268 for a facemask penalty.

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It's Jets vs. Bears, not Santonio Holmes

Santonio Holmes #14 of the Chicago Bears warms

Santonio Holmes #14 of the Chicago Bears warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field on Sept. 7, 2014 in Chicago. (Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel)

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After spending four sometimes-controversial seasons with the Jets, wide receiver Santonio Holmes has resurfaced with the Chicago Bears as a free agent this season. He's backing up starters Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, but you can bet Holmes is primed to have a good game against the Jets on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

The mere mention of Holmes brought a smile to the face of Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on Friday afternoon. "Santonio is one of my favorites," Mornhinweg said. "I know. Look, I know. Heart of gold, really, heart of gold. I enjoyed him.

"He made a little place for himself [in Chicago]. I don't particularly root for the other team, but I root for the individual. And Santonio, I root for Santonio."

Holmes missed all but four games of the 2012 season with injuries and struggled to play 11 games last season because of health issues. But he's caught four passes for 41 yards in the Bears' first two games.

"He looks healthier," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said of Holmes. "He looks like he's moving better than the last year he was here. He's a pro. He comes out and competes. He'll probably have a little bit of revenge on his mind. We can't get caught up in the one-on-one part of it. We have to go out and do our job."

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Dee Milliner injures quad, might miss Monday Night Football against Bears

Jets cornerback Dee Milliner speaks with reporters during

Jets cornerback Dee Milliner speaks with reporters during training camp in Cortland Saturday, July 26, 2014. (Credit: Hans Pennink)

Another injury to Jets cornerback Dee Milliner puts his playing status for Monday night's game against the Bears at MetLife Stadium in doubt. Milliner took part in position drills during the portion of practice viewed by the media Friday, but coach Rex Ryan said a tight quadriceps muscle prevented Milliner from practicing.

Milliner was sidelined during training camp with a high ankle sprain but saw his first action last week at Green Bay when he came off the bench. The quadriceps is a new injury that Ryan said cropped up after Wednesday's practice.

Asked if he still believes Milliner will be able to play against the Bears, who feature the passing of Jay Cutler to big wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Ryan said: "I'm hopeful, but the fact he didn't practice today is not a great sign. But I'm hopeful he'll play."

Green Bay overcame a 21-3 first-half deficit to score a 31-24 victory over the Jets, and Milliner struggled at times during the Packers' comeback. Ultimately, Milliner took himself off the field in favor of starting cornerback Antonio Allen.

But Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said Milliner's problems in Green Bay were not injury related.

"I don't think his physical condition was a hindrance," Thurman said Friday. "When a guy's on the football field, he's 100 percent. It's about playing your technique and fundamentals properly and doing what you're coached to do. That's where lack of game-time prep, when you haven't gotten the reps in, can hurt you.

"We're not down on Dee. He's got to come out and do the things being asked of him within the framework of the system, and playing your techniques properly is a big part of playing corner for the New York Jets."

Wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring) is the only other Jet who was unable to participate in Friday's practice. He ran on the side and caught short passes from the trainers. Ryan said the lack of practice won't prevent Decker from playing if he physically is able.

"You'd like for your guys to practice, but if a guy can't, I'm not going to say he absolutely can't play," Ryan said. "If a guy doesn't practice and he's low man on the depth chart, then he's not playing. But if he's a really good player, we're not going to back yourself into that corner."

The rest of the Jets' injuries included LB Nick Bellore, limited, hip; DB Josh Bush, full, quad; OL Willie Colon, limited, calf; LB Quinton Coples, full, elbow; LB AJ Edds, limited, hamstring; RB Chris Johnson, limited, ankle; and C Nick Mangold, limited, shoulder.

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Jets' Antonio Allen says Bears' Alshon Jeffery is 'lazy sometimes'

The Jets' Antonio Allen (39) speaks with reporters

The Jets' Antonio Allen (39) speaks with reporters during training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (Credit: Hans Pennink)

Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery became one of the NFL's breakout stars last season when he caught 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns, but Jets cornerback Antonio Allen hardly will be intimidated when they face each other Monday night at MetLife Stadium. Allen often faced Jeffery in practice at South Carolina before both entered the NFL in the 2012 draft.

"I played with him a lot at South Carolina," Allen said. "I do respect him as a receiver and as an athlete. He's a ball hawk. If the ball is in the area, he's going to get it.

"Then again, he's lazy sometimes. He lacks footspeed. But he's still a baller, and he still can make plays at the end of the day."

Despite that criticism, Allen said he remains good friends with Jeffery to this day. In college, Allen mostly played linebacker, but he still took reps covering Jeffery in practice.

Now, that he's moved from safety to corner, Allen is bound to be matched up against his college teammate Monday night. "No doubt, I can cover him," Allen said. "It's just playing my technique, reading my keys, playing with good eyes to be in the right position and being physical."

The 6-3, 216-pound Jeffery teams with 6-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall to form one of the biggest and most physical wide receiver combinations in the NFL. Jets coach Rex Ryan said there are times when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler simply relies on the athleticism of his receivers to make a play work.

"Sometimes, they just throw it up there," Ryan said. "A lot of times, it's, 'Hey, run behind the Buick, and I'll throw it to you.' They've got two monsters, and they don't mind feeding it to them."

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SBU offensive linemen Cody Precht, Mike Lisi have key roles against North Dakota

Stony Brook quarterback Kyle Essington sets up for

Stony Brook quarterback Kyle Essington sets up for the snap from center Mike Lisi in the football game against Charleston Southern at LaValle Stadium. (Oct. 6, 2012) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke )

Just when it seemed Stony Brook's offense was getting on track, leading rusher Stacey Bedell suffered a minor knee sprain that will keep him out of Saturday night's final non-conference game at North Dakota. While coach Chuck Priore continues rotating his running backs and quarterbacks, the Seawolves must follow the leadership of two four-year starters, right tackle Cody Precht and center Mike Lisi.

They were instrumental in Stony Brook's first 300-yard rushing game in more than a year in its 20-3 victory over Division II American International a week ago. Bedell and running back James Kenner each topped 100 yards rushing, and the Seawolves (1-2) figure to emphasize the running game against UND of the Big Sky (1-2), which has allowed 199.7 yards rushing per game.

Re-establishing the running game against AIC "was really important," Precht said. "It was good to put together some drives and remember what that feeling is like to have a 10-play drive and score. That was big."

In their first two losses to Bryant and at FBS Connecticut, the Seawolves' offense lacked consistency. Priore again plans to rotate John Kinder and Conor Bednarski at quarterback, and the running back rotation without Bedell will include Kenner, Marcus Coker and Tyler Fredericks.

"We're going to go every two plays," Priore said of those three.

The coach is shuffling the offensive line, too. Lisi remains at center, but Precht moves from guard back to right tackle. Senior Shane Johnson, a transfer from Pitt, flips over to right guard from the left side and redshirt freshman tackle Timon Parris moves from the right side to the left next to redshirt freshman guard Armani Garrick.

That makes the leadership of Precht and Lisi critical to success. "It starts with the leadership part, and they set the work ethic," Priore said. "They give more to this program than most people give."

Precht said he and Lisi put in extra work to make sure the offensive line is on the same page, especially the two freshmen, Parris and Garrick. "It's really important because, when you're that young, you don't have the same communication skills on the field that a guy like me or Michael has," Precht said. "We put aside a half-hour to an hour after practice three or four times a week to meet and go over film and to get the calls down and make sure they know everything."

Bedell is expected to return for next week's Colonial Athletic Association opener against William & Mary at LaValle Stadium, but the Seawolves hope to set a tone for the rest of the season at North Dakota.

"We really have to make a statement, rush for yards, be physical and play Stony Brook football leading into next week," Precht said. "It will be a good test for us."

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Wilmer Flores homers twice, drives in 6 as Mets rout Marlins

Wilmer Flores of the Mets celebrates his fifth-inning

Wilmer Flores of the Mets celebrates his fifth-inning three-run home run against the Miami Marlins with teammates Travis d'Arnaud and Daniel Murphy at Citi Field on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

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Second baseman Wilmer Flores tapped into his inner power source to produce a monster night, homering twice and driving in six runs in the Mets' 9-1 victory over the Marlins Tuesday night at Citi Field. Flores' RBI double off the leftfield wall ignited the Mets' four-run fourth-inning rally, then Flores belted a three-run homer with two outs in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh for his first multihomer game.

Manager Terry Collins rested slumping rookie second baseman Dilson Herrera, shifted Flores from shortstop to second and inserted Reuben Tejada at short. Travis d'Arnaud delivered a one-out double in the fourth and scored on Flores' two-out shot. Curtis Granderson then singled Flores home. After a walk to Matt den Dekker, Tejada rapped a two-run single for a 4-1 lead.

"We haven't been hitting with men in scoring position," Flores said. "Having this kind of game feels good. [Marlins reliever Brad Penny] hung two breaking balls, and I was on it."

Flores said that on Monday he began using a bat belonging to minor-league catcher Kevin Plawecki. "I like his model," Flores said. "It's just the way it feels. You grab a bat and say, 'This feels good.' "

Bartolo Colon (14-12) got the victory, pitching 72/3 innings, allowing 12 hits.

Extra bases

Collins said rehabbing righthander Matt Harvey responded well after pitching a simulated game. "He feels great," Collins said. "But he's had 45-50 pitch bullpens that he's done and come back the next day and felt great. Certainly, it was a bright, bright spot for us, knowing that he's going to be 100 percent." . . . Juan Lagares left the game in the fifth inning with a hyperextended right elbow.

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Wilmer Flores homers twice, drives in 6 as Mets rout Marlins

Wilmer Flores of the Mets celebrates his fifth-inning

Wilmer Flores of the Mets celebrates his fifth-inning three-run home run against the Miami Marlins with teammates Travis d'Arnaud and Daniel Murphy at Citi Field on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Second baseman Wilmer Flores tapped into his inner power source to produce a monster night, homering twice and driving in six runs in the Mets' 9-1 victory over the Marlins Tuesday night at Citi Field. Flores' RBI double off the leftfield wall ignited the Mets' four-run fourth-inning rally, then Flores belted a three-run homer with two outs in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh for his first multihomer game.

Manager Terry Collins rested slumping rookie second baseman Dilson Herrera, shifted Flores from shortstop to second and inserted Reuben Tejada at short. Travis d'Arnaud delivered a one-out double in the fourth and scored on Flores' two-out shot. Curtis Granderson then singled Flores home. After a walk to Matt den Dekker, Tejada rapped a two-run single for a 4-1 lead.

"We haven't been hitting with men in scoring position," Flores said. "Having this kind of game feels good. [Marlins reliever Brad Penny] hung two breaking balls, and I was on it."

Flores said that on Monday he began using a bat belonging to minor-league catcher Kevin Plawecki. "I like his model," Flores said. "It's just the way it feels. You grab a bat and say, 'This feels good.' "

Bartolo Colon (14-12) got the victory, pitching 72/3 innings, allowing 12 hits.

Extra bases

Collins said rehabbing righthander Matt Harvey responded well after pitching a simulated game. "He feels great," Collins said. "But he's had 45-50 pitch bullpens that he's done and come back the next day and felt great. Certainly, it was a bright, bright spot for us, knowing that he's going to be 100 percent." . . . Juan Lagares left the game in the fifth inning with a hyperextended right elbow.

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Bud Selig has high praise for Wilpons and how they run the Mets

Bud Selig monitors every major-league franchise to ensure it is operating in the best interests of baseball, but his view of the low-budget, big-market Mets clearly is at odds with that of fans critical of frugal owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Known for his cozy relationship with the Wilpons, the outgoing commissioner Tuesday practically described the Mets as a model franchise.

Selig was at Citi Field as part of a farewell tour of nearly all of the 30 MLB franchises before he is succeeded as commissioner by newly elected Rob Manfred. He spoke to the media Tuesday night before the Mets' 9-1 victory over the Marlins.

Questions focused on the Mets' payroll, which is $82.2 million and ranks 23rd in MLB, according to figures compiled by ESPN.com.

"Do I have any problem with the Mets' finances?" Selig said. "None."

Selig remains close with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who worked with him at MLB offices before being hired by the Wilpons after the 2010 season. He suggested payroll is not as important as the job Alderson or any GM does building a productive farm system.

"I do a lot of rating of farm systems," Selig said. "And I'm satisfied that this franchise is doing it the right way, in my baseball judgment."

In 2011, Selig rejected former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's television rights deal believed to be worth close to $3 billion with Fox as not being in the best interests of baseball. The commissioner cited MLB's debt-service rule, which doesn't allow a franchise to borrow from future assets to pay current bills. He said the deal was "structured . . . for the personal needs" of McCourt.

Asked how that differs from the Wilpons, who suffered a major financial setback related to the Bernard Madoff scandal and sold minority shares to help defray personal debt that has affected their operating budget, Selig emphatically defended the Mets' owners.

"I don't have any problem with the Mets' financing," Selig said. "[The Dodgers] were out of compliance with every one of our internal economic rules. The Mets are in compliance with all of them. Big difference."

At the time of McCourt's financial troubles, Selig criticized the Dodgers for their $83-million payroll in a major market. They since have been sold and now lead MLB with a payroll of $238.8 million, and they lead the NL West.

"That was only one of many factors," Selig said of the Dodgers' formerly low payroll.

Asked if he could understand the frustration of Mets fans with the lack of spending by the Wilpons, Selig said this season has produced more competitive balance among teams from big and small markets.

"Unless I read the standings wrong today, it looks to me like the Baltimore Orioles may win the American League East this year," Selig said hours before they actually clinched it. "Anybody predict that on April 1? I don't think so. I rest my case."

Selig declined an opportunity to comment on the social issues besetting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but he said he's monitoring the gender discrimination suit brought by a female former Mets employee who accused Jeff Wilpon of firing her because she got pregnant out of wedlock.

"That's employment litigation," Selig said. "There were a lot of charges there. Jeff denies them vigorously. In this particular case, they're going to court, and we're just going to have to see how that plays out."

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After a thrilling end to the BCS National Championship Game, how do you feel about moving to a playoff system?

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Bud Selig has high praise for Wilpons and how they run the Mets

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig speaks during

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a press conference before a game between the Mets and the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Travel deals

Bud Selig monitors every major-league franchise to ensure it is operating in the best interests of baseball, but his view of the low-budget, big-market Mets clearly is at odds with that of fans critical of frugal owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Known for his cozy relationship with the Wilpons, the outgoing commissioner Tuesday practically described the Mets as a model franchise.

Selig was at Citi Field as part of a farewell tour of nearly all of the 30 MLB franchises before he is succeeded as commissioner by newly elected Rob Manfred. He spoke to the media Tuesday night before the Mets' 9-1 victory over the Marlins.

Questions focused on the Mets' payroll, which is $82.2 million and ranks 23rd in MLB, according to figures compiled by ESPN.com.

"Do I have any problem with the Mets' finances?" Selig said. "None."

Selig remains close with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who worked with him at MLB offices before being hired by the Wilpons after the 2010 season. He suggested payroll is not as important as the job Alderson or any GM does building a productive farm system.

"I do a lot of rating of farm systems," Selig said. "And I'm satisfied that this franchise is doing it the right way, in my baseball judgment."

In 2011, Selig rejected former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's television rights deal believed to be worth close to $3 billion with Fox as not being in the best interests of baseball. The commissioner cited MLB's debt-service rule, which doesn't allow a franchise to borrow from future assets to pay current bills. He said the deal was "structured . . . for the personal needs" of McCourt.

Asked how that differs from the Wilpons, who suffered a major financial setback related to the Bernard Madoff scandal and sold minority shares to help defray personal debt that has affected their operating budget, Selig emphatically defended the Mets' owners.

"I don't have any problem with the Mets' financing," Selig said. "[The Dodgers] were out of compliance with every one of our internal economic rules. The Mets are in compliance with all of them. Big difference."

At the time of McCourt's financial troubles, Selig criticized the Dodgers for their $83-million payroll in a major market. They since have been sold and now lead MLB with a payroll of $238.8 million, and they lead the NL West.

"That was only one of many factors," Selig said of the Dodgers' formerly low payroll.

Asked if he could understand the frustration of Mets fans with the lack of spending by the Wilpons, Selig said this season has produced more competitive balance among teams from big and small markets.

"Unless I read the standings wrong today, it looks to me like the Baltimore Orioles may win the American League East this year," Selig said hours before they actually clinched it. "Anybody predict that on April 1? I don't think so. I rest my case."

Selig declined an opportunity to comment on the social issues besetting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but he said he's monitoring the gender discrimination suit brought by a female former Mets employee who accused Jeff Wilpon of firing her because she got pregnant out of wedlock.

"That's employment litigation," Selig said. "There were a lot of charges there. Jeff denies them vigorously. In this particular case, they're going to court, and we're just going to have to see how that plays out."

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After a thrilling end to the BCS National Championship Game, how do you feel about moving to a playoff system?

I'm happy about there being more meaningful football. I'm bummed. I like the BCS. I don't care either way.

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Giants hurt by an epidemic of dropped passes

Rueben Randle #82 of the Giants is unable

Rueben Randle #82 of the Giants is unable to catch a pass from Eli Manning #10 during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 14, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. (Credit: Mike Stobe)

If the Giants have one player who has been a constant source of positive vibes, it's wide receiver Victor Cruz, the touchdown salsa king. But instead of shouting his name -- "Cruuuuuuzzz!!!'' -- some in the MetLife crowd of 78,344 on Sunday directed an unfamiliar sound his way during the Giants' 25-14 loss to Arizona.

After the second of three straight dropped passes in the fourth quarter, the fans sent the Giants wideout on a "boos Cruz.'' That came as a shock to Cruz, who said of the jeers, "I [couldn't] care less.''

The boos likely were related to Cruz's midweek comments suggesting that quarterback Eli Manning and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo should target him and fellow wideout Rueben Randle more. Manning did that as the Giants built a 14-10 third-quarter lead, completing five passes to Cruz for 60 yards and another four to Randle for 39, including a 7-yard touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter.

But Cruz dropped a third-down pass that led to a punt that the Cardinals' Ted Ginn Jr. returned 71 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. The Giants fumbled the ensuing kickoff to set up a field goal that gave the Cardinals a 22-14 lead.

So when Cruz then let a difficult pass deep down the right sideline skip off his hands, the home fans vented their frustration. Cruz dropped the ball again on the next play.

Speaking of the first drop before Ginn's punt return for the go-ahead score, Cruz said: "Any ball in my direction I've got to bring in. I've got to be able to make the play for the team whenever Eli looks my way.''

The sideline pass that ignited the boos was a tough catch because Cruz was fully extended. "Yeah, they're difficult catches any time you're running full speed, trying to get away from defenders, and Eli is putting it in a place where only you can catch it,'' Cruz said. "The degree of difficulty is definitely high, but it's definitely a ball I've caught before.''

Randle ignited cheers in the second quarter when he shook off Patrick Peterson, the NFL's highest-paid cornerback, to pull in his touchdown pass with one hand. "It was actually a run play, and we tagged the fade to it,'' Randle said. "In practice all week, we stressed the fade ball, and I was just trying to get open to make a play.''

But with 2:48 left and the Giants facing third-and-6 at their 19, Randle went deep down the left side and Manning hit his hands. But the ball wound up on the turf when cornerback Antonio Cromartie hit him.

"[Cromartie] got his hand in there a little bit,'' Randle said, "but still, I should have caught it.''

Did the pressure of falling behind in the fourth quarter contribute to the drops? "I think it's something you should thrive on,'' Randle said. "That's why they pay us as receivers.''

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Who gets the deflated game ball as the Giants' least valuable player after their loss to the Cardinals?

Eli Manning Victor Cruz Rashad Jennings Quinton Demps Zack Bowman Someone else

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