Fitz, Jets starters sluggish, score in 21-20 loss to Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to Eric Decker and the New York Jets' defense stifled Eli Manning and the New York Giants' starters in a 21-20 preseason loss Saturday night.
Both teams' first-string offenses did very little in the last regular-season tuneup for most starters, but Fitzpatrick connected with Decker for a 22-yard score three plays after Darrelle Revis intercepted Manning on a pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. in Giants territory in the second quarter.
Fitzpatrick finished 9 of 16 for 76 yards with the score and lost a fumble in the red zone before being replaced by Geno Smith just before halftime.
Manning was 10 of 15 for 65 yards and an interception while playing one series into the third quarter. The Giants' starters managed just 61 total yards against Todd Bowles' defense.
The Giants (1-2) didn't get past the 50-yard line until a facemask penalty on Brandon Bostick on a punt return put them at the Jets 47 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.
Backup Ryan Nassib took advantage two plays later, connecting with Tavarres King on a 27-yard touchdown that cut the Jets' lead to 10-7. It was the Giants' first score since late in the first quarter of their preseason opener.
Backup defensive end Kerry Wynn returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a pass from Bryce Petty that was tipped by J.T. Thomas III.
Jets second-rounder Christian Hackenberg began trending on Twitter after he went 4 of 6 for 79 yards on his first NFL drive, capping it with a 10-yard TD throw to Robby Anderson. He was also intercepted by Andrew Adams with 2:34 left, leading to King's go-ahead touchdown catch for the Giants. Hackenberg finished 6 of 16 for 105 yards for the Jets (1-2).
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz played for the first time since 2014, catching a pass for 4 yards. Cruz was limited to six games two years ago because of a knee injury and then missed all of last season with a calf injury. The 29-year-old Cruz was sidelined the first two preseason games this summer with a groin injury.
Jets running back Matt Forte (hamstring) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (leg) made their preseason debuts. Forte, signed in March after eight seasons in Chicago, had 28 yards on 10 carries and added two catches for 9 yards.
Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall was a surprise scratch with what Bowles said after the game was "sore hips." The coach said the decision was made Friday and he didn't seem too concerned about Marshall's status, saying he could have played if it had been a regular-season game. Anderson started in Marshall's place and had four catches for 65 yards and a TD.
Giants: First-round CB Eli Apple had a solid showing against the Jets' starters, covering Decker at times. He didn't play last week because of a knee injury in the preseason opener.
Jets: Undrafted K Ross Martin, competing with veteran Nick Folk, kicked a 55-yard field goal in the third quarter and added a 29-yarder in the fourth.
Giants: Nassib was 6 of 19 for 69 yards, including his two TD tosses to King.
Jets: Smith went 3 of 5 for 14 yards on two drives. Petty, trying to secure a roster spot, was 5 of 10 for 59 yards before being replaced by Hackenberg on the drive following his interception.
Giants: King made a case to be the last receiver on the roster, finishing with two catches for 38 yards and his two scores.
Jets: Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale took turns at RT with the starters, and one could start if Breno Giacomini (back) isn't ready for the regular season.
Giants: LB Jonathan Casillas (ribs), CB Leon Hall (concussion), rookie LB B.J. Goodson (concussion) and FB Nikita Whitlock (foot) left with injuries.
Jets: LB David Harris left late in the first half with an injured right shoulder, which was in a sling after the game. Bowles said the veteran will have additional tests Sunday.
Giants: "Well, we have to get better moving the ball, getting first downs and just staying out of the negative plays," Manning said of the starting offense. "There is definitely some room for improvement, but we will go on from here."
Jets: "I think we feel pretty good right now," said Fitzpatrick, 16 of 29 for 183 yards and a TD in the preseason. "I don't know if those three games are a good indication of where we are."
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