The New York Giants have had plenty of extra time to think about their lackluster effort in their opener. Justin Tuck can't even get it off his mind at night.
The defensive end has lost sleep over New York's ugly loss, and he and his teammates are eager to begin moving past it as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
The Giants began the defense of their Super Bowl title with a thud, falling 24-17 to Dallas at home last Wednesday. Unable to "build the bridge" as coach Tom Coughlin urged them to do from the end of last season into this one, New York was outrushed 143-82 and gave up 290 yards passing, while being plagued by missed tackles, dropped passes and other miscues.
Tuck, for one, can't stop thinking about it.
"I haven't slept well, so I think we all are itching to get back on the field," he said Monday. "Definitely got a lot of work to do on the practice field."
Coughlin's club looked less like the team that won six straight to close last season and more like the one that split the first 14 games of 2011 amid inconsistent play and poor execution.
Now the Giants are feeling the pressure to avoid falling into an even deeper hole early in the season. The three other NFC East teams won last week.
"You can't lose a game," Coughlin said. "Everybody's 1-0, and we're 0-1. We have another big game this weekend. That's the great thing about our profession, we get to line up and play again."
Along with added time to dwell on the defeat, the 10-day break between games may give New York a better chance to fix its problems on both sides of the ball. Burned repeatedly in the secondary by the Cowboys' Tony Romo, the Giants could get injured cornerback Prince Amukamara back, though he might sit behind Michael Coe, who left the opener with a hamstring issue but could also play Sunday.
It also remains to be seen whether rookie David Wilson will get another chance to help bolster the Giants' feeble ground game. Wilson committed a fumble against Dallas that killed a New York drive in the first half and was benched thereafter.
The Giants, though, may need all the help they can get if they want to run the ball effectively against Tampa Bay. The Bucs completely shut down Carolina's ground attack last Sunday, holding it to 10 yards in a 16-10 victory.
"This was fun to watch this defense go out and play the way they played," said safety Ronde Barber, who had an interception, sack and key stop on Cam Newton near the goal line in his 200th career start.
While the Bucs neutralized the run, they were extremely effective rushing the ball themselves, compiling 130 yards. Ninety five of them came from Doug Martin, picked one spot ahead of Wilson in the April draft after Tampa Bay traded up to get him.
"That team is fired up," Tuck said. "That team is going to have a lot of confidence."
New coach Greg Schiano made emphasizing the run a priority in the offseason, and the Bucs appeared to take that to heart in his debut. The Giants will likely have to be significantly better against the ground game than they were last week to avoid an 0-2 start.
"He does a great job of preaching this is a one-game season," Barber said of Schiano, the former Rutgers coach who will be making his return to northern New Jersey. "This is the Carolina season. Next week will be the New York season. We'll play them one at a time and search for wins the best way that we can."
Tampa Bay managed three sacks of Newton last week, and that could spell trouble for Eli Manning - who's considerably less mobile than the Carolina quarterback - if New York can't protect him better Sunday. Dallas sacked Manning three times and put consistent pressure on him in Week 1.
"I think (the loss) was a wake-up call, knowing this league will present new challenges and different threats each and every week," safety Antrel Rolle said. "... We definitely have to step up, and we have to step up now."
New York has won three in a row in the series, including a playoff game in Tampa in January 2008. The Giants took the last meeting 24-0 on the road Sept. 27, 2009, and the last matchup in New Jersey came in 2006, a 17-3 Giants win.
- New York
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Justin Tuck