Eli Manning got his first dose of real NFL defensive schemes and it had to feel awful.
The top choice in the NFL draft in April, the Giants quarterback struggled against the New York Jets in a 17-10 loss last night in East Rutherford, N.J. It was the Jets' ninth successive win in the annual preseason series.
Usually, exhibition games feature vanilla defenses. But the Jets threw all kinds of defensive looks at the Giants, from both 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, with frequent safety blitzes and a nice mix of coverages. While Giants starting quarterback Kurt Warner handled them decently and led his team to a first-quarter touchdown on Ron Dayne's nine-yard run, Manning seemed befuddled.
"I never got in a groove," Manning said. "I made bad decisions, I made mental mistakes. I've got to learn from this and get better."
Manning's first pass was intercepted by Donnie Abraham, who jumped in front of the rookie's intended receiver. Abraham later left the game after spraining his knee.
Manning also was intercepted by Reggie Tongue in the third quarter, missed badly on several other passes and never looked comfortable in going 4 for 14 for 20 yards with two interceptions, two sacks and a fumble.
* VIKINGS 23, 49ERS 10: Daunte Culpepper went 20 for 27 for 204 yards and a touchdown and Minnesota overcame its struggles to finish off drives, beating San Francisco in Minneapolis.
The Vikings outgained San Francisco 326-61 in total yards in the first half and took a 16-0 lead into halftime before allowing the 49ers to slowly close the gap. Another problem was Minnesota's kicking game: Aaron Elling missed two field goals and an extra point.
Vikings running back Michael Bennett and left tackle Bryant McKinnie sprained their right knees on the first unit's only series of the third quarter. Both were hurt on a 10-yard rush that was called back because of a penalty and each walked off the field.
* BRONCOS 31, TEXANS 17: Jake Plummer threw for 159 yards, ran for a score and led Denver's top unit to its first two touchdowns of the preseason, lifting the Broncos at home.
Houston running back Domanick Davis looked sharp after missing the first two preseason games with an ankle injury, getting 49 yards on seven carries.
* JAGUARS 9, PACKERS 7: Josh Scobee, Jacksonville's rookie kicker, took advantage of an opportunity to prove he can be the answer to the Jaguars' kicking woes, booting three field goals in a victory over visiting Green Bay.
Scobee, a fifth-round draft pick from Louisiana Tech, missed 3 of 4 field goal attempts in his first two preseason games, but was perfect on tries of 23, 32 and 43 yards against the Packers. He also showed improvement on kickoffs after struggling in practice and ingames.
* SAINTS 17, BEARS 13: Third-string quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan set up his own one-yard, go-ahead touchdown run with a 48-yard pass and New Orleans won in Chicago.
The sloppy game at Soldier Field took 31/2 hours to play and featured 30 penalties, including 18 on the Bears.