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Giants' offense lays an egg

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, bottom, forces

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, bottom, forces a fumble off Eli Manning during the second half. (Dec. 15, 2013) Credit: AP

Eli Manning seemed to know it was going to be that kind of a day when, on the third play of the game, he essentially fell into the fetal position.

After being pressured on the very first snap -- defensive end Red Bryant pushed through both center Kevin Boothe and running back Andre Brown to apply the heat that resulted in an incompletion -- Manning dropped back two plays later and found himself swarmed by a mob of Seahawks. So he did the only thing he could to preserve his own well-being. He slid, flopping to the ground the way Brett Favre famously did on the record-setting sack by Michael Strahan in 2001, and took a loss of 8 yards.

"I just knew I wasn't going to have anything and so I went down and tried to avoid getting backed up or trying to scramble or do something and risk a safety or making things worse than they already were," he said.

But they did get worse. Manning threw a career-high five interceptions, the offense managed only 181 yards, and the unit came under fire from both coach Tom Coughlin (who called them "pathetic") and defensive players growing weary of turnovers.

"I don't know if he even had to say anything," Boothe said. "It's out there. You saw it. Everybody else saw it. It's pathetic, embarrassing. Whatever word you want to use, it's accurate."

"I just think we never really had a chance to get a rhythm going, and that's kind of important on offense," said guard James Brewer, who left the game at halftime with an ankle injury. "We have to do better."

Things never improved and mercifully ended when backup Curtis Painter was sacked and then threw an incompletion while under duress in the final minute of the game.

The Giants didn't even cross midfield until the fourth quarter. Thirteen of their 14 possessions lasted five or fewer plays.

Amazingly enough, it wasn't even the offense's worst showing of the season. The Giants' 181 yards were more than the 150 they managed in their earlier shutout loss against the Panthers. Their 25 rushing yards were two more than they had against the Broncos. Even converting only 1 of 10 third-down opportunities was not a low point; they were 1-for-11 against the Broncos and 1-for-14 against the Chiefs.

This one stung a little more, though, because the Giants made a big deal about playing for respectability and were blanked.

Even when the defense helped the cause, as with Antrel Rolle's interception in the third quarter, the offense turned the ball over two plays later.

"If we need to get turnovers and we need to get touchdowns, then that's what we have to do," Mathias Kiwanuka said of taking on responsibilities that usually fall to the offense.

"Two-thirds of the game was played in an outstanding fashion," Coughlin said. "Had there been some balance, some time of possession, where our defense [and] their offense wasn't on the field the whole game, who knows?"

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