Instead of getting that big improvement in the second game of the preseason, Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants got a reality check.
The team that looked so good in beating Carolina in the opening preseason game on Monday took a big step back in dropping a 17-3 decision to the Chicago Bears on Saturday night.
While the score wasn't lopsided, the Giants failed to score a touchdown, got only 11 first downs and allowed Jay Cutler and the Bears' first-team offense to score on drives of 80 and 92 yards.
"We need to focus on improving as a football team and, quite frankly, we need to stop listening to all the media telling us where we are good and where we aren't good and all of that stuff," Coughlin said in a conference call late Sunday afternoon. "We need to get the team on track knowing full well that we don't have a lot of time to do this. This having taken place, I hope it is a wake-up call."
Coughlin found errors and poor play across the board: offense, defense and special teams. He was particularly annoyed with the pressure (five sacks) the Bears' defense was able to get on Eli Manning and the other quarterbacks, and he felt his defense wasn't physical enough, allowing Chicago 150 yards rushing on 34 carries.
The Giants had some excuses. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce (sore foot), safety Kenny Phillips (sore knee) and cornerback Aaron Ross (hamstring) were out, while starting guards Chris Snee (leg) and Rich Seubert (shoulder) sat out on offense.
New York was also without all three of the big defensive free agents it signed in the offseason. Linebacker Michael Boley (hip surgery) and tackles Rocky Bernard (hamstring) and Chris Canty (hamstring) still have not played.
Boley is on the physically unable to perform list. Bernard just got off the non-football injury list and is expected to play this weekend against the New York Jets. Canty's problem is just not getting better, and Coughlin admitted he has a little tear.
"We heard for so long that we have so much depth, but I don't know what you are watching," Coughlin said. "The guys who are supposed to be the depth have hardly practiced and some haven't played. I think you are talking about something that looks good but it hasn't really materialized. Until, we get this thing straightened out and get everybody on the field, this rotation we're talking about is a nonfactor. We need people practicing."
Phillips and Ross are expected back at practice on a limited basis at the University at Albany on Monday and Pierce is being listed as day to day. Snee and Seubert also are expected to return this week and play in the annual preseason game against the Jets.
That should help the offensive line which has allowed Manning, David Carr, Andre' Woodson and rookie Rhett Bomar to be hit far too often.
"To be honest this is not something that just cropped us," Coughlin said. "We've had these problems, and anybody who has watched camp knows this. This is something that must be corrected now."
Coughlin wasn't the only one disappointed in the Giants' performance.
"I think this loss right here will wake some people up," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It's human nature, but it's easy for us to look at all the talent we have on this football team, especially on defense, you kind of get complacent. In a way I'm kind of glad we played like that, because I know for a fact we got a bunch of guys on the sideline that don't ever want to see that. We don't ever want to have that feeling. Our starters didn't want to come out because it was embarrassing."
Backup defensive tackle Jay Alford, who also serves as the snapper for placekicker Lawrence Tynes, torn the medial collateral ligament and sustained a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the game, the Giants said.
Alford will strengthen and rehabilitate the knee for approximately two weeks and then Dr. Russell Warren will make a determination on severity of ACL damage.
Strongside linebacker Danny Clark needed stitches in his chin and second-year receiver Mario Manningham had a hip pointer and is day to day.
Coughlin plans to play his regulars a little more this weekend.
"I'm looking forward to it," Tuck said. "I want to get back on the football field. I think everybody on this football team feels the same way because we're going to have to live with this bad taste in our mouths."
AP Sports Writer Rick Gano in Chicago contributed to this report.