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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s absence hurt Giants’ secondary

New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie answers questions

New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie answers questions from the media after practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Would a healthy Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have made a difference in the game?

“Easy,” said the second-team All-Pro cornerback, who missed almost the entire game on defense after suffering a bruised thigh on the Giants’ first defensive series of Sunday’s 38-13 wild-card loss to the Packers.

His absence left Trevin Wade and Coty Sensabaugh to fill his role in the slot, and Aaron Rodgers was able to exploit them. The two were in coverage for two of Rodgers’ first three touchdown passes.

“I feel like I knew those guys well,” he said. “I feel like a lot of plays were made in the slot coming from [Randall] Cobb and even from 17 [Davante Adams]. That one definitely hurt.”

“It was tough,” Ben McAdoo said of playing without DRC. “We tried to work through it.”

So what happened to him?

“Something caught me on the thigh and I couldn’t lift my leg,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of the play on which he was hurt making a tackle on tight end Jared Cook while converging with linebacker Keenan Robinson.

“I tried to work it, work it, work it. It just didn’t come back.”

Rodgers-Cromartie never came back on defense, though he did appear on some special-teams plays in the second half. “Running down on kickoff, I couldn’t really put my leg up for real,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been good for me on defense.”

Tough way for DRC’s season to end, huh?

“Very disappointing,” he said. “Any time your season ends like that and you can’t go out and fight with your guys, man, it makes the loss that much worse. To see plays that were made in the slot where I felt I would have been, I feel like I would have been there. Even if they had made them on me, I would have felt better if they were on me.”

What happened to the special teams?

Late in the third quarter, Bobby Rainey fielded a kickoff heading out of bounds at the 3 and then stepped out himself. Dwayne Harris fielded two punts inside the 10, one of them over his shoulder heading toward the goal line. Fielding one at the 7 with a 1-yard return ultimately led to the Packers’ first touchdown.

“We didn’t make great decisions today on special teams,’’ McAdoo said.

Not everyone agreed with his assessment. “We did pretty good,” Harris said.

How about physical mistakes on special teams?

Brad Wing backfired on several punts. Most glaring was his 37-yarder (30-yard net) late in the second quarter. It set up the Packers at the Giants’ 38 for a TD that made it 7-6.

“I just feel like I let the entire organization down,” Wing told Newsday. “Today I did not execute well at all, and it’s very disappointing, because this is the thing I’ll remember for the whole offseason. It’s very disappointing.”

Why was Bobby Rainey the running back on the key third-and-1 play that failed and set up the Hail Mary?

Rainey plays in the two-minute offense because of his shiftiness and ability to catch passes, but in a situation that called for a run — third-and-1 at the Giants’ 41 on the first play after the two-minute warning — the Giants probably should have subbed in Paul Perkins or Rashad Jennings for the handoff. McAdoo said that play was a run the whole time. Rainey was stuffed for no gain, the Giants punted and the Packers hit the deep pass to end the half.

Why didn’t Paul Perkins pick up the loose ball in the fourth quarter?

The rookie running back said he thought it was an incomplete pass, so he just stood over it as it rolled around. It wasn’t until Clay Matthews, who had forced the fumble on a sack while Eli Manning was in his throwing motion, came up and drilled him that he realized it was a live ball. Matthews recovered it with 8:31 left, essentially sealing the win.


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