Rookie mistakes prove costly as Giants fall to Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They showed flashes. They showed promise. They showed potential. And then they showed that they're rookies playing in their first NFL game.
David Wilson and Jayron Hosley, the Giants' first- and third-round draft picks, gave fans a lot of positives in Friday night's preseason opener against the Jaguars at EverBank Field. But in crunch time, they had two of the big mistakes that led to the Giants' 32-31 loss to the Jags.
Hosley muffed a punt in the final minute of the second quarter, giving the Jaguars the ball at the Giants' 2, and Jacksonville scored to move within 24-14. "I could have taken a step or two back to stay square on it and let the ball in,'' he said of the punt, which bounced off his shoulder.
Then, after the Jaguars went ahead with two minutes left, Wilson made a key error, running the wrong play on the first snap of the two-minute drill, which ultimately ended without a decent chance at the winning points.
"The number one thing is ball security as a punt returner. The first thing you have to do is catch the ball," Tom Coughlin said. "And we also have a number of people who really quite frankly don't know what they're doing. Even though they may have some talent, some ability, they've got to spend a little more time trying to figure out what we're asking them to do."
Hosley wasn't the only player to muff a punt deep in Giants territory. Second-year player Jerrel Jernigan, who seemed to have put his security issues behind him, missed one that the Jaguars recovered at the 9 in the fourth quarter, leading to a field goal that cut the Giants' lead to 31-24.
"It's too bad we were in that position," Coughlin said of the two-minute drill to try to pull out a victory. "You catch a punt twice and you're not going to be in that position."
Wilson ran for 43 yards on seven carries, caught two passes for 26 yards and had a kickoff return for 48 yards. But it was the misplay on the final drive that seemed to stick with Coughlin.
Wilson said he misheard the play in the huddle. The Giants, as they do in hurry-up situations, called two plays at once. The first was a run, the second a pass. Wilson had them confused, so when Ryan Perrilloux turned to hand the ball off to him, he already had left his position to run a route. Perrilloux wound up scrambling for a 2-yard pickup.
"You can't have those mistakes in critical situations like I had," Wilson said. "Luckily, it was a preseason game. It doesn't go on our record. But it's something I want to bounce back from and show the coaches that I definitely know what I'm doing when I'm on the field and they can trust me in situations like that."
Wilson, Hosley and Jernigan didn't make the only mistakes in the game. Jernigan nearly made a one-handed catch for a touchdown in the end zone that should have drawn a pass-interference flag and Hosley had a sack plus a dynamic 20-yard punt return in which he zigged back and forth before breaking it to the outside.
The Giants built a 24-7 lead as D.J. Ware ran for a 2-yard touchdown and former Cowboys Martellus Bennett and Isaiah Stanback caught touchdown passes. Rookie Rueben Randle caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Perrilloux for the Giants' only points in the second half.
The Giants had moments when they looked like defending Super Bowl champs and plenty of others when they looked as though they still have a lot of work to do before the regular- season opener Sept. 5.
"So we start, men," Coughlin said. "So we start. We don't start very well, but we start." That goes for a season and, perhaps, several still promising careers.