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Giants' starting offense finally scores a touchdown

New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings slips

New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings slips a tackle by New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor in the first half on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 at MetLife Stadium. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Prince Amukamara wins the preseason honesty award.

Although you might expect the Giants to focus on the positive of their 85-yard touchdown drive and gloss over the corrections that otherwise need to be made on both sides of the ball, the veteran cornerback put it as simply as he could after Saturday night's 28-18 loss to the Jets.

"I still think we're not where we need to be," he said, "and it's obvious to everyone."

It certainly was Saturday night. Other than a 14-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that ate up 8:09 of the second quarter -- the only touchdown by the starters this preseason -- there was very little to buoy confidence with the regular-season opener two weeks away.

Not from the fans. And not from Amukamara.

"I don't know if I remember feeling like this last year, but you don't want to feel unsure going into the season, especially when the first week is a division opponent," he said. "You want to be confident . . . Going into the season, you want to feel ready, you want to feel right, you want to feel confident as a defense like 'man, we're ready to take on an opponent for real.'

"Personally I don't think that. I'm not there yet. I feel like we're getting there, but I'm not there yet."

Amukamara was talking about the defense, but his sentiments were shared by an offensive leader.

"Overall, it's not what we wanted, for sure," left guard Justin Pugh said. "We were heading in the right direction and I think [Saturday night] we definitely took a step back."

Pugh did grab on to the life preserver that was the touchdown drive.

"We'll be able to watch that and build on that," he said. "I know what we're capable of and it's something we haven't been able to see [until that drive]. I'm still optimistic."

The Giants' scoring drive was a confidence-builder, at the very least. They ran the ball with authority, handing it off nine times. Eli Manning threw the ball with accuracy, completing all five passes. There even was a one-handed catch by Odell Beckham Jr. that -- although he could not get both feet in bounds and it occurred on a free play when the Jets had jumped offside -- brought the MetLife crowd to its loudest moment of the night.

Their other four possessions (not including a kneel-down at the end of the half) amounted to 37 yards on 17 plays. Manning's best passing night of the preseason -- he was 12-for-16 for 91 yards -- ended with an ugly pick-6 intended for James Jones and returned 59 yards by Antonio Cromartie. That touchdown made it 21-7 at the half.

"Some good and some bad," Manning said of what is expected to be the final extended work of the preseason for the starters. "We probably had a couple opportunities to make some plays and extend some drives that we didn't. We had one great drive . . . and to finish that was good. We had the interception for the touchdown, and we can't have that."

The Jets were able to run outside consistently against the Giants, who had trouble establishing an edge.

"We're playing better as a unit," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "We've had some good plays where guys make plays, but consistently we're not playing perfect football enough. We need to get on our assignments better, our techniques better, so that everybody can play better more consistently."

The Giants' defense allowed 194 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, both coming against broken pass coverages.

It was the Jets' Zac Stacy, not Beckham, who made the most acrobatic play of the game that counted when he leaped over safety Brandon Meriweather and flipped into the end zone to cap a 24-yard touchdown on a screen pass in which he was left wide open.

Earlier, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker on an 18-yard touchdown pass between safety Jeromy Miles and cornerback Jayron Hosley.

The Jets were able to run outside consistently against the Giants.

"I felt like we kept beating ourselves with leverages," Amukamara said. "When you have to stay inside, stay inside. When you have outside contain for the run, you stay outside. We just hurt ourselves."

They have two weeks to stop doing that.


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