By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Fourteen seasons in the NFL have taught Eli Manning not to make too much of one game.
Sure, the New York Giants’ offense was pathetic in a season-opening 19-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
The statistics screamed bad game: three points, 233 total yards, 35 on the ground, 53 total plays, just under 26 minutes of possession, three sacks. It was awful, and even missing leading receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with a sprained ankle was no excuse for such a performance.
There was blame to go around a couple of times, from the offensive line to the wideouts who could not get open.
Manning was quick to answer when asked if he was worried about the offense, which also struggled last season despite an 11-5 record.
“First game,” the two-time Super Bowl MVP said. “Guys were playing fast, got some good guys out there, some new bodies. So, we’ll bounce back. We’ll be fine. We just have to slow down, everybody take a breath and just run the plays the way we’ve been running them all spring and all summer.”
Manning said the Cowboys had some new wrinkles for the game. The defensive backs divided the field into quarters, a scheme he said he had never seen from a Rod Marinelli defense.
However, most of the problems the Giants had were self-inflicted. The line didn’t give Manning time to throw. There were missed assignments among all phases of the offense and a general lack of execution.
“It’s part of losing a game,” Manning said. “You’re going to analyze and you can’t get too sensitive after the first game. You’re going to get coached up, and there’s things we can clean up, for sure, but you can’t get defensive, can’t get sensitive. You just have to be confident in what you’re doing, understand what you need to fix and then go play fast.”
Manning even admitted things could get worse, although he expects improvement against the Detroit Lions (1-0) on Monday night.
Getting a healthy Beckham back would certainly help. He has not practiced since being hurt in a preseason game on Aug. 21.
“There’s no hiding the fact he’s a playmaker,” Manning said. “Our best player. It’s pretty obvious. I think everybody knows that. It’s different when he’s on the field, but on there or not, we have to play better than what we did, and we can and we will.”
Veteran left guard Justin Pugh said the line knows it got most of the blame for the offensive woes. The approach will be to keep working.
“Dallas did some things that I would say caught us off-guard up front,” he said. “At the end of the day, they are still doing the same things that they have always done.”
First-round draft pick Evan Engram said the team has gotten the game out of its system and tried to learn.
“It didn’t happen the way we wanted it to, but … we’ve got to keep it moving,” said the tight end, who made four catches for 44 yards, including a 31-yarder. “We’re definitely throwing Dallas in the trash, we’re throwing that game in the past. We’ve got to move on. So, we’re definitely going to take a breath and keep it moving.”
Left tackle Ereck Flowers said any positives that came out of the game were overshadowed by the loss.
“I think there is more urgency to go out there and do what we got to do,” he said when asked about the mood of the offense after watching the game film.
NOTES: Right tackle Bobby Hart played most of the game with a sprained right ankle. He expects to play Monday.
“If you look at the film and really understand football, it’s not detrimental,” Hart said. “You don’t look at it and just hang your hat. You look at it and say this is what we need to get better at. You practice and (work) on all the details, the little things that we have to hit on and make everything go.”
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