The quarterback was knocked out of the Giants’ 31-16 preseason victory over the New York Jets on Monday night when he changed a play in the second quarter without telling anyone and suffered a bloody three-inch gash to the left side of his temple that required 12 stitches to close.
The Giants medical staff found no signs of a concussion, but it wasn’t immediately certain whether Manning will play Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin expected a more complete medical report on Tuesday.
However, he tended to brush off the injury that overshadowed a spectacular three-touchdown, second-half performance by Giants free agent wide receiver Victor Cruz(notes). The Paterson native finished with six catches for 145 yards.
“The first thing we’ll do is make sure that there is no swelling,” Coughlin said of Manning. “If there’s no swelling then I think we’ll be able to go ahead and get the helmet on and practice.”
Manning took the blame for his injury.
“We had a run play with an option to throw a fade that I thought I might try, but Brandon (Jacobs) was coming right up the middle. Sometimes you make a mistake and you get hit in the head. It’s preseason, you learn from it.”
Manning said he will be back soon, adding he didn’t really sustain an injury.
“I really feel like I could go back out and play right now if I had to,” he said.
The star of the night was Cruz, the University of Massachusetts product who also had a great week at training camp last week, catching several deep balls.
“Justice has been served,” Coughlin said. “A young man, Victor Cruz, really has had an outstanding camp. He has worked his tail off every day, he’s made a lot of plays this past week. The writers who were following practice have asked and kind of smiled when we mention Victor Cruz and he was truly outstanding.”
Cruz caught touchdown passes of 64 and 34 yards from Jim Sorgi(notes) and iced the game with a 5-yard TD catch from Rhett Bomar(notes) with 2:24 to go. Cruz jumped around cornerback Dwight Lowery(notes) and made a one-handed catch on his long TD.
“It’s a crazy feeling just to be at home, and to put up a performance like this is just really great,” Cruz said. “It is just so surreal right now. My heart is beating so fast right now.”
The performance caught the Jets totally off guard.
Mark Sanchez(notes) led the Jets on three scoring drives, overcoming an interception by Antrel Rolle(notes) on his first pass, and played the entire first half in the first football game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
“Based on the way we moved the ball up and down the field, aside from the interception on the first pass,” Sanchez said, “I was happy with my performance.”
The teams traditionally meet in the third game of the preseason, but both wanted to be part of the unveiling of their new $1.6 billion, 82,500-seat home that they share.
Both teams struggled at times. The Giants had troubles early on offense, and the Jets’ second and third units were poor.
The play everyone will remember is the third-down miscue at the Jets 5 that left Manning gushing blood from his head.
Coughlin had called a run up the middle to Jacobs. Manning decided to throw a fade to big receiver Ramses Barden(notes) in the corner of the end zone. The problem was he never called the ‘alert’ to let the offense know of the change.
Expecting a handoff, Jacobs ran into Manning with his shoulder. The force of the collision knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and into the air.
As Manning reached to catch it, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace(notes) slammed him in the middle of his back, knocking his helmet off and pushing him face first forward. Manning’s head slammed into either Jets safety Jim Leonhard(notes) or Jacobs, who were standing next to each other.
Manning immediately fell to the turf and put his hand to his head. He quickly motioned to the training staff for help once he saw his hand covered in blood.
Replays showed blood pouring from Manning’s head shortly after he fell to the ground.
Jacobs called the play a miscommunication.
“We had a call and he wanted to change it and do it on the run,” said Jacobs, who recovered the fumble. “It ended up not working out. It was a communication issue on both of our parts. Eli will be fine.”
“When you see a quarterback bleeding like that, it was something out of a Friday The 13th Movie,” O’Hara said. “Now we know it’s pretty much a laceration. I think, hopefully, it will make him look a little tougher.”