Victor Cruz has disappeared from offense

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz celebrates after scoring

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half. (Sept. 30, 2012) (Credit: AP)

CINCINNATI -- Eli Manning isn't the only Giants offensive player in a slump these days. Victor Cruz is right there with his quarterback.

Ever since the third-year wide receiver put up a monster game in the Giants' dramatic 27-23 comeback win over the Redskins Oct. 21, when he scored the game-winning touchdown on a 77-yard catch with 1:13 left, Cruz has hit a wall. In the three games since, he has 10 catches for 116 yards and no touchdowns.

Not coincidentally, the Giants' offense has sputtered. Yesterday's 31-13 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium was their second straight loss after a 6-2 start.

Cruz had a chance for a big play against the Bengals, getting open for what likely would have been a touchdown on a deep route early in the fourth quarter. But after beating the coverage, Cruz dropped Manning's pass near the goal line.

"I took my eye off [the ball] last minute, and as soon as I got my hand on it, they reached in there and broke it up," Cruz said. "But I should have come down with it."

Cruz still hopes to reach agreement on a long-term contract before the end of the season, but his recent play isn't doing much for his leverage.

Cruz had three 100-yard receiving games and seven touchdowns in the first seven games, but his recent drop-off is one of several factors that have contributed to a lack of offense the last three games. Manning has gone without a touchdown pass in those games, the first time he has been held without a scoring pass in that long a span since his rookie season.

"We expect results, and it's a little frustrating as a competitor and an athlete and a teammate," Cruz said.

The Bengals did a good job of clamping down on receivers and forcing Manning to throw short. The Giants didn't have a completion of more than 16 yards.

Any specific reason the offense has sputtered? "We can't put a finger on it," Cruz said. "We just have to understand that there are more games and we have to keep going."

Cruz said it's a good time for the Giants to head into the bye week, adding: "At this point of the season, I guess we could use a break, refocus for the last stretch of the season."

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