CINCINNATI - Here's all you have to know about how poorly things went for the Giants in Friday night's preseason opener against the Bengals:

When the second quarter began, Eli Manning still was on the field.

Under more ideal -- or even reasonably positive -- circumstances, Manning would have been ball-capped and clipboarded by that time. But because the starting offense was unable to produce, Tom Coughlin kept sending them out, hoping they at least might be able to leave the field on a good note.

They were not. Nor were most of the second- and third-teamers after a 23-10 loss.

"We didn't play the way I envisioned we would play," Coughlin said, bemoaning the lack of "tempo" and "rhythm" on offense. "I expected more. I think the players expected more."

A sad display of four series that started with a pair of three-and-outs for a combined minus-1 yards and ended with new running back Shane Vereen unable to convert a third-and-1 near midfield left little for the offense to build on.

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For a team that most figure will have to outscore opponents with a high-powered passing attack if it is to find any success this season, about all the Giants learned about themselves is what they do wrong as opposed to finding out what they might do well.

"We need to be a little sharper," said Manning, who was 4-for-8 for 22 yards with no completions to wide receivers. "We didn't do that well on third downs, had some negative plays. We definitely have room for improvement. That's what preseason's for: to figure out what you have to improve on and go do it."

Or as Coughlin put it: "Things have been put into perspective. We're no longer wondering how we're going to play."

The defense was not much better, allowing the Bengals to march 52 yards in six plays for a touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu on their opening drive. The Bengals faced second down only once on the drive.

"We needed to come out and start fast, knowing it was going to be a short night for the [starters]," linebacker Jon Beason said. "I would like to see us play a little faster. I think that would've covered up a lot of things. They were able to have some success. They hit us with some runs, some passes. But overall, we need to start faster."

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There were a few bright spots for the Giants. Running back Orleans Darkwa ran for 52 yards and the only touchdown on nine carries and cornerback Trevin Wade had an interception in the fourth quarter. But those moments were overshadowed.

They also lost four players in the secondary to injury in the first half, including starting safety Landon Collins (knee) and fellow safety Mykkele Thompson with an Achilles injury that most likely will end his season. Cornerback Jayron Hosley had an MRI for a neck injury that left him in a brace and he also was being evaluated for a concussion.

The Giants open the regular season in less than a month and have three more preseason games to get themselves straightened out. The clock is ticking, and as Coughlin said, "I don't see any patience anywhere. It's time to do some things and put some things together."