FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Giants hope they never again have to see the pleasant sight they witnessed Thursday night, as Geno Smith carved up an NFL defense — or a reasonable facsimile of an NFL defense.
After this, the Giants want to put the ball in the hands of Eli Manning and never, ever think about the player backing him up. There is a need for a No. 2 quarterback on the roster, though, and it sure looks as if Smith is the guy.
Playing alongside and against backups, the former Jets starter more than likely locked down the job. He went 4-for-4 on a first-quarter drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to tight end Matt LaCosse. Smith finished up 10-of-11 for 111 yards. It was by far his most impressive showing this summer. Most importantly, he stayed away from any glaring mistakes or turnovers, failings he could not shed with the Jets, failings he displayed too often this preseason.
On a night the Giants put only one starting player on the field, they closed out their preseason by blowing a 34-14 halftime lead before a last-second 48-yard field goal by rookie Aldrick Rosas lifted them to a 40-38 win over a bunch of guys wearing Patriots uniforms at Gillette Stadium.
Coach Ben McAdoo did not risk using any of the players he will count on in 10 days, when the Giants open up their regular season Sept. 10 against the Cowboys. McAdoo hopes to have his full complement of players, including Odell Beckham Jr. who worked out on the field before the game, catching passes but not running at all on his sprained left ankle.
Smith has looked more decisive than Josh Johnson, which was surprising, considering Johnson was in the offensive system last year and this is all new for Smith. If Johnson lost his hold on his job, he went down swinging. He went 8-of-10 for 99 yards in the second quarter, also tossing a scoring pass to LaCosse. Johnson played late into the third quarter and finished up 11-of-14 for 135 yards.
It looks as if McAdoo has decided on a kicker, as Rosas was given all the work after splitting the kicks with Mike Nugent in the first three games. Rosas hit field goals of 22, 31, 27 and 48 yards and is 8-for-8 in the preseason. Nugent also did not miss a kick, but it was clear that McAdoo — always willing to give young players a shot — wanted to see Rosas win the job and withstand the pressure of a proven veteran breathing down his neck. Nugent did just that, and Rosas never faltered.
Only one starter played for the Giants: Free safety Darian Thompson, who is coming off foot surgery and needed the extra snaps.
Otherwise, this was backup city, featuring several players who will make the roster as reserves and others who will be unemployed as of Saturday’s final cutdown.
Smith started at quarterback, with Orleans Darkwa and rookie Shane Smith in the backfield. The starting receivers were Roger Lewis and rookie Travis Rudolph. The offensive line, from left to right: Chad Wheeler, Jon Halapio, Brett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Adam Bisnowaty.
Wheeler, Halapio and Bisnowaty have never played in an NFL game.
On defense, the Giants starting line was Kerry Wynn, Robert Thomas, Josh Banks and Devin Taylor. One interesting development: Defensive end Romeo Okwara started at strong side linebacker. Okwara has worked in practice at linebacker, as the coaching staff tries to determine if he can swing to a different position. The other starting linebackers were Calvin Munson and J.T. Thomas. The starting secondary was Donte Deayon and Nigel Tribune at the corners, Thompson and Andrew Adams.
Deayon is in a fight to claim a spot on the team after spending last season on the practice squad. He had an interception return for a touchdown against the Jets, but the diminutive corner was not as fortunate in his last opportunity of the preseason. He was matched against 6-foot-4 rookie receiver Cody Hollister and it was a mismatch. Deayon, who is 5-foot-9, never turned around in the end zone as Hollister hauled in a 9-yard TD pass.