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Eli, starting offense struggles again in 35-24 victory over Jets

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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Eli Manning and the New York Giants' offense is still a work in progress.

All the talk throughout the preseason has centered around the new West Coast-like offense implemented by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and how the Giants really needed to work on getting the offense down pat.

Well, nothing will change after Friday night's 35-24 win over their MetLife Stadium rival, the New York Jets.

Most of the damage Friday night on offense again came in the second half — four second-half touchdowns — with second and third units on the field for both teams.

Sure, Manning managed to complete 12 of 21 passes for 139 yards in his first real production of the season. But seven of those completions and 89 of those yards came in a frantic 11-play, 91-yard drive right before halftime, with the Giants using their two-minute offense. Manning completed 7 of 10 in that drive alone, with Victor Cruz catching three for 52 yards.

"It was good to finish it off with a good two-minute drive," Manning said. "That's something we have been really good at here in the past and this was our first opportunity. We were able to go down and get a touchdown. It was the best rhythm we've had. We had too many negative plays, whether it was penalties or sacks."

Coach Tom Coughlin liked the way the Giants' first unit finished up the first half.

"The last drive of the first half was very welcomed, obviously," Coughlin said. "We could finally move the ball. Eli made some great plays. I thought we ran the ball well early in the game, but didn't have anything to show for it."

The Giants came out of the gate utilizing a hurry-up, no-huddle offense that really didn't serve much purpose, except for a 26-yard pass to Reuben Randle during the team's second possession. Rashad Jennings had all nine of the team's rushing attempts in the first quarter, good for 32 yards and ended the day with 67 yards on 13 carries.

PHOTO: New York Jets tight end Jace Amaro (88) reacts after catching a touchdown pass against New York Giants inside linebacker Jameel McClain (53) in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Jets tight end Jace Amaro (88) reacts after catching a touchdown pass against New York Giants inside linebacker Jameel McClain (53) in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Everything seemed extremely pedestrian — except for the final drive of the first half, when Manning hit Randle for a 15-yard score with 5 seconds left before intermission.

"I thought we started off a little rough," said Cruz, who had his first catches of the preseason. "Once we were able to get into a little rhythm and complete some plays downfield, we were able to give Eli some time to make some decisions. We were able to get a little of our mojo back and as a result, we were able to get into the end zone."

The Giants benefited from a huge mistake to start the second half, as Michael Vick fumbled inside the Giants' 20-yard line, recovered by Damontre Moore, who sacked Vick on the first play of the third quarter.

Five plays after the fumble, backup quarterback Ryan Nassib hit fullback Henry Hynoski with a 3-yard TD pass that remarkably gave the Giants a brief 14-10 lead, after being dominated for the entire first half.

Nassib connected for his second score of the third quarter, when he hit Preston Parker with a 39-yard pass, putting the Giants back in front, 21-17, with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Nassib has shown poise in the last two preseason games to virtually secure the No. 2 quarterback slot behind Manning. Nassib engineered most of the 27-point fourth quarter comeback against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

"I think this does well for my confidence, but also for the whole offense," said Nassib, who finished the game with 8 of 12 passing for 103 yards and three TDs. "We're getting more and more confident with the offense. We still have a lot to improve on. We're not satisfied, but it's easier after you're able to make a few plays."

Coughlin liked the way Nassib performed once again.

"The one thing that was pretty impressive was that he didn't have a particularly good game (the win over Pittsburgh) and he's come back now with two good performances," Coughlin said. "He ran the offense well. He stuck the ball in the end zone a few times and directed the offense well."

NOTES: The Giants suffered a big loss when projected starting guard Geoff Schwartz was carted off the field with what was diagnosed as a dislocated toe. It's not known how long Schwartz, signed by the Giants as a free agent from Kansas City, will be out of action. "It's pretty serious," Coughlin said. ... Rookie wide receiver Marcus Harris (shoulder), second-year defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (leg) and veteran cornerback Zack Bowman (arm) also left the game with injuries and didn't return.

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