Much ballyhooed Giants defense fails to live up to expectations in opener

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Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is stopped by New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (21) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)


Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80) breaks for a 26-yard run during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)


EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Having the New York Giants' new west coast offense struggle in its first regular-season game wasn't a surprise.

Seeing defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's defense get lit up by the Detroit Lions was shocking.

Led by a much-hyped secondary, the defense was supposed to be one of the strengths as Tom Coughlin's team looked to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. It wasn't.

The Giants gave up 417 total yards and allowed 35 points. The vaunted secondary that was bolstered by four free agent signings was embarrassed by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, giving 346 yards passing, including six plays of at least 22 yards. The highlight was a comical 67-yard TD pass play to Johnson that featured safety Stevie Brown running into cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

"Not taking anything from Detroit, Detroit did a great job scheming us and making plays, but I definitely think some of the plays we hurt ourselves," cornerback Prince Amukamara said Thursday after the Giants practiced for Sunday's home opener against the Arizona Cardinals (1-0). "We made mistakes and Detroit made some plays."

Fewell said the mistakes were a combination of missed assignments, players trying to do too much, like helping a teammate and instead of doing what they were supposed to be doing, and missed tackles.

"The first touchdown, I cannot explain," Fewell said of Johnson's walk into the end zone. "I haven't seen two guys run into each other like that. It was just a comedy of errors."

The collision wasn't the only thing that left Johnson wide open. Defensive end Damontre Moore got a free shot at Stafford after beating his man on the rush and missed the sack.

"We literally gave them about 200 and something yards," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We gave them those yards. I feel like, as a defense, I even heard our defensive coordinator say, 'Make them earn their yards.' I'm pretty sure they didn't earn those yards, we gave them to them."

Pierre Paul said they can't dwell on it.

The Cardinals' offense has weapons. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 304 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns against San Diego and the receiving corps is stacked with wide outs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and running backs Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor catching passes out of the backfield.

The positive for the Giants is that they stopped the run against the Lions.

"I expected us to force some more turnovers and that's going to be an emphasis and that's always been an emphasis," Fewell said. "You can improve from Week 1 to Week 2 and I definitely, we want to improve from our first outing."

Brown said the defense might need a little time to get comfortable with each other. Amukamara and safety Antrel Rolle played last season but Brown missed the season with an injury and Rodger-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Zach Bowman are all new.

"We have to be ourselves out there," Brown said. "A couple of the mistakes that happened out there on Monday, we just were not being ourselves. That was out of characteristic for all of us. It led to big plays. If we settle in early in the game and be ourselves, then we can definitely eliminate the big plays."

NOTES: P Steve Weatherford said his sprained left ankle is feeling better and he is optimistic he will play Sunday. He plans to practice Friday. PK Josh Brown says his chances of punting are minimal. ...MLB Jon Beason did not practice Thursday but he is expected to play Sunday. ...DT Cullen Jenkins (hip) practiced on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday. ...After practice coach Tom Coughlin spoke to the team about the significance of Sept. 11 and held a moment of respect for those who tied in the terrorist attacks. "...We also talked about never forgetting. Never forget 9/11, but we also honored America and the resilience and the courage shown by the country and the way that New Yorkers and all in the tri-state area rallied around each other in that point in time. I think that's something we could all be proud of."


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