As if all the green in the place they consider to be their home stadium wasn't bad enough, the Giants had to add a splash of unwanted red to the carpeting.
Eli Manning, on what would likely have been his last snap of the preseason opener against the Jets last night, suffered a gruesome series of hits that left him without a helmet and with a three-inch gash on the left side of his forehead. Blood ran down the face of the franchise as he staggered off the field early in the second quarter and was helped to the locker room.
We knew there was some bad blood between the two teams. For the Giants, this was the worst blood. The wound required 12 stitches to close.
X-rays of Manning's head taken at the stadium were negative and the quarterback was sent home by the team's medical staff. Manning showed no signs of a concussion, according to the Giants. "I feel fine, I feel normal," Manning said in a statement released by the team.
Manning was battered around on the play by friend and foe alike. First he took a Brandon Jacobs shoulder under his chin on a play-action fake. That hit left his helmet askew and Manning seemingly disoriented in the pocket. Then Calvin Pace came soaring in from the blind side to pop Manning, whose body jackknifed and his helmet went flying off. The momentum from the Pace hit then drove Manning face-first into safety Jim Leonhard.
"The play was my fault," Manning said. "We had a run play with an option to throw a fade that I thought I might try, but Brandon was coming right up the middle. Sometimes you make a mistake and you get hit in the head. It's preseason."
Manning immediately sensed something was wrong and put his hand to the gash while motioning to the sideline. He got to his feet and jogged over toward his team, and head trainer Ronnie Barnes met him on the field with a towel to apply pressure to the wound. By that time, Manning had left a trail of blood on the fresh New Meadowlands turf. He headed through the tunnel to the locker room with a piece of gauze controlling the bleeding. "I'll be back as soon as I can," Manning said. "It's really not an injury. Nothing serious."
Manning has started 87 consecutive regular-season games. The regular-season opener is still almost a month away, so it is unclear how this injury will affect that streak. The Giants obviously hope it does not as Manning is perhaps their most indispensable player.
Behind Manning is Jim Sorgi, who backed up Peyton Manning in Indianapolis for six seasons but appeared in just 16 games there as the understudy. The Giants also have Rhett Bomar, who was on their practice squad for most of the 2009 season. Sorgi relieved Manning last night.
The Giants' offense was just starting to show signs of life when Manning went out. They had 5 yards of total offense at the end of the first quarter and were facing second-and-13 from their own 35 when Manning eluded pressure by rolling to his right and pushed a two-handed shovel pass to Ahmad Bradshaw. The running back took the ball and churned out 51 yards to put the Giants in scoring position. Two plays later Manning tossed the ball to D.J. Ware running right for an 8-yard gain to set up third-and-1 from the 5 and the scariest play of the night.