CHICAGO - The search continues.
In a city where Al Capone's vault once was opened to great fanfare and even greater disappointment, the Giants' search for a passing attack remains just as frustratingly fruitless. Halfway through the preseason, they have yet to see any of their receivers emerge as a weapon.
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Last night, they had a cadre of them available: starters Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith, along with Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss, took snaps with Eli Manning. The result? More questions than answers. More doubters than doers after their 17-3 loss to the Bears.
Manning, who played most of the first half, was 7-for-10 for 62 yards. Smith, who saw his first action after missing last week's opener with a knee injury, was the leading receiver. He caught two passes for 30 yards, one a 25-yarder. No other receiver caught a pass from Manning for more than seven yards.
"It was the intended objective of the game," Tom Coughlin said of trying to get the receivers more involved. "But when you don't make any first downs and you don't protect well . . . With no continuity all you see is a bunch of throwing darts at the wall."
Manning did have a chance to hit Manningham for a big gain on third-and-7 on the first drive, but the ball was slow in reaching the receiver and was broken up by Kevin Payne. "We had some big plays and moved the ball, but we just had too many negative plays," Manning said. "On the first drive, we really had a shot to Mario. I just have to get the ball out there some more."
The most effective pass of the first quarter was a 15-yarder to running back Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs also ran for 27 yards on seven carries and twice made Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher look like road kill.
Finding targets wasn't Manning's only issue. He was harassed by the Bears' defense, had a pass flagged for intentional grounding and was sacked two other times. Alex Brown beat David Diehl with a speedy outside rush to get him the first time (he also forced a fumble that was recovered by the Giants). Adewale Ogunleye buried Manning the second time by cutting inside tackle Kareem McKenzie.
"We had some penalties and some sacks that we just couldn't overcome," Manning said. And when the Giants did manage to do well, the offense blew chances. Dave Tollefson stripped the ball from Kevin Jones and Michael Johnson recovered the fumble to set up the Giants at the Bears' 28 late in the second quarter. But David Carr threw a floater toward Kevin Boss in the end zone for an incompletion, then threw a pass to Manningham that was out of bounds. The Giants settled for a 42-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes.
Jay Cutler was 8-for-13 for 121 yards, leading the Bears to 17 points in his three series. Once he left, so did any excitement. Neither team showed much with its second or third units. Come to think of it, only one team showed anything with its first unit.
"I really don't think we played as bad as it looked, but we certainly didn't play as well as we wanted to," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We'll go back to work this week, find a way to get everything together here, and we'll get better and we'll be OK.''
Geraldo Rivera thought the same thing.