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Same old Giants in opening loss to Lions

Giants quarterback Eli Manning is seen on the

Giants quarterback Eli Manning is seen on the sidelines during the second quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Credit: AP / Paul Sancya

DETROIT - For all that is new with the 2014 Giants, so much Monday night looked familiar.

The untimely turnovers. The pressure on Eli Manning. The lapses in the secondary. The inability to generate a pass rush or get off the field defensively on third downs. All of it combined to produce a 35-14 loss to the Lions at Ford Field.

Another unfortunate familiarity: It was the fourth straight year the Giants opened with a loss. They failed to reach the playoffs in the last two. For a team that stressed the importance of a quick start after being 0-6 last year, the Giants began the game and the season with a vibe that is . . . alarming.

"The house is burning,'' linebacker Jon Beason said. "It's about right now. Are we panicking? No. It's way too early for that. But we also have to be honest with ourselves.''

Tom Coughlin started the truth-telling. "We don't have a lot to be proud of,'' he said. "It was a nightmare performance. I don't think there's anyone in that locker room that doesn't realize that the bubble's been burst.''

That precarious bubble was insulating the Giants from a lousy preseason and last year's 7-9 disappointment. It left them with a sense of urgency, knowing how quickly a loss in the opener can slip to six.

"There was no improvement from last year,'' defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "We can't try to feel this out, slowly make corrections. We have to get this corrected right now.''

Coughlin had no patience for any psyche-mending. "Grow up,'' he said. "This is the thing we have to contend with and we have no one to blame but ourselves.''

It certainly wasn't Manning's fault or new offensive play-caller Ben McAdoo's fault that the Giants fell behind 14-0 before five minutes had elapsed. The rebuilt secondary that bragged all summer about being one of the best in the league looked more like the Legion of Disarray than the Seattle unit they supposedly were modeled on.

Calvin Johnson caught a 67-yard touchdown on the first drive as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Stevie Brown ran into each other and knocked each other down. Johnson then scored on a 16-yard catch with linebacker Jacquian Williams covering in a mismatch.

The offense and special teams soon joined the defense in their tribute to the 2013 season. The only first down on the Giants' first two drives came via penalty (they had 5 net yards besides that play), and Steve Weatherford's second punt was partially blocked. Three phases, three headaches for Coughlin.

The Giants finally scored when Manning hit tight end Larry Donnell to make it 14-7. It stayed that way until halftime, a manageable game for the Giants considering how badly they were playing. But whatever stability they seemed to have found was quickly lost.

Manning threw his first pick on a quick pass for Donnell -- who was running a deeper route -- and the Lions scored a field goal off it. They added a field goal after a 44-yard pass to Golden Tate (Rodgers-Cromartie just stopped his coverage). Manning threw a second interception by forcing a pass to Victor Cruz while on the run, and the Lions went ahead 27-7 on Matthew Stafford's 5-yard scramble.

Rashad Jennings' 1-yard run made it 27-14 with 11:53 left, but the Lions drove 80 yards to take a 35-14 lead on a 3-yard run by Joique Bell and a two-point conversion pass.

"It's hurtful. It's disgusting,'' safety Antrel Rolle said. "But at the same time, we must make our own mistakes right.''

That's what this offseason was supposed to be about, after all.

Notes & quotes: Weatherford had a boot on his swollen left ankle, injured when Jerome Couplin knocked him down late in the first quarter. He said X-rays were negative, but he will have an MRI Tuesday.


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