By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — Talk about the school of hard knocks.
Giant’s quarterback Eli Manning took a series of big hits and was sandwiched between two defenders during a 31-16 win over the Jets in the first preseason game at the New Meadowlands Stadium Monday night, the Daily News reported.
The play happened early in the second quarter when Manning ran into running back Brandon Jacobs and then got pinned between the two defenders, who hit the quarterback so hard his helmet came flying off.
Manning waved for the trainers, blood running down his face, after the play. He left the game and had to get 12 stitches on the left side of his head.
The team reported he did not suffer a concussion and Manning, remarkably, said that he felt okay through a release sent from team doctors.
"I feel fine," said Manning. "I feel normal. Nothing serious. I really feel like I could go back out and play right now if I had to."
Luckily for Manning, he can rest at least a couple more days before he has to start getting ready for the Giants Saturday game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
“The first thing we’ll do is make sure that there is no swelling,” coach Tom Coughlin told the Associated Press. “If there’s no swelling then I think we’ll be able to go ahead and get the helmet on and practice.”
Meanwhile, quarterback Mark Sanchez had a strong game for the Jets. Sanchez went 13-for-17 with 119 yards and threw for a touchdown in the first half. He also threw an interception when he tried to force a pass to Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson on his first throw of the game.
The Jets were able to move the ball against Big Blue's defense in the first half. The Giants first team offense struggled against Gang Green's first team defense in the first half.
The game turned late in the third quarter when Giants rookie wideout Victor Cruz got into the game. Cruz made a one-handed catch and sprinted down the sidelines for a 64-yard touchdown to put the Giants up 17-16 with 2:26 remaining in the quarter. Cruz, an undrafted free agent, continued to beat up on the Jets back up defenders in the fourth quarter, scoring on touchdown catches of 34 and 5 yards.
Cruz finished the game with six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns.