Will Beatty said he doesn't keep track of individual game statistics, so he couldn't be sure if he'd ever before been part of an offensive line that gained a woeful 23 yards on 19 carries as the Giants did on Sunday. But there are some numbers he is aware of.
"I know I've been a part of offensive lines that got running backs 1,000-plus yards (in a season), and I plan on doing that again," Beatty said. "With a slow start."
The Giants spent most of Monday ranked 30th in the NFL in total rushing yards with 73. That's pretty bad considering the teams behind them, the Steelers and Bengals, hadn't even played their Week 2 game until Monday night. The 23 yards gained against the Broncos were the fewest the Giants have had since they ran for just six yards at the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 12, 1989, in a 31-10 loss. Starting running back David Wilson wasn't even born yet.
While there is plenty of blame to go around, it's clear from Sunday that most of it belongs on the offensive line. And they accept that. "It's on us," Beatty said.
According to Pro Football Focus, an analytical website, the Giants running backs had 24 rushing yards after first contact with a defender. In other words, had they not broken tackles, they would have finished with minus-1 rushing yard for the game.
The Giants do have the league's top passing game, but the lack of any ground support is threatening even that aspect.
"If you are not running the ball well, they can play two high and keep two safeties real deep and say: 'Hey, we're going to try to slow them down, don't give them the big plays,' " quarterback Eli Manning said. "When you run the ball it slows the pass rush and you get better down and distance."
And play-action? Forget about that.
"This team is predicated on having balance, running the ball and countering that with the play-action pass, which is how we made a living and is how Eli is comfortable," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "I think that's the way we have to play our ballgame. Turnovers are not going to help that and not running the ball isn't going to help that either."
As frustrating as the lack of production running the football has been, the players involved say they are close. It is usually one off aspect that dooms each play.
"It's not like everybody is just messing up and we're getting out-physicaled," Manning said. "We are very close. We've just got to get it where everybody on every play is doing their job correctly and doing it at a high level and we'll get that corrected."
The offensive linemen agreed.
"We have a fun uphill battle, but the season is far from being over and in no way are we saying we can't run the ball," Beatty said. "Yeah, we know we can make mistakes running the ball. So we get that out of the way and we move forward."