It seems it doesn’t matter what year it is, whether it is preseason, regular season, or the Super Bowl — When the New York Giants play the New England Patriots it is ALWAYS a good game. The fact that the two teams play against each other in their final preseason game every year is an annual treat, even if it goes unappreciated at large.
But while the game is almost always a good one, the fourth, and final, preseason game is all about settling roster battles. The 40-38 final score is mostly inconsequential.
When the Giants took the field, Darian Thompson was the only starter on offense or defense to play. With cut-day looming, roster battles needing to be settled, and the Giants playing their third game in 11 days, the starters got a rest.
So with so many players fighting for a job getting a sizable number of snaps, who were the winners and losers in the position battles for spots on the 53-man roster.
Winner - Geno Smith
Geno Smith has flashed the kind of ability that got him drafted in the second round by the New York Jets. He has also shown the flaws that convinced the Jets to part ways with him. In his final chance to show off for the Giants’ brass, Smith showed none of his flaws. This game was excellent and efficient, completing 10-of-11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Loser - Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson is the loser, but that has nothing to do with his play in this game. He played his best game of the preseason as well, completing 11-of-14 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Both players competed at a roughly even level, but Smith has played at a higher level for most of the preseason. Since he did nothing to make up ground on, or leapfrog, Smith, Johnson has to be the loser.
Winner - Matt LaCosse
The Giants have been waiting for LaCosse to translate his practice stardom onto the field. They finally got to see it against the Patriots when LaCosse caught a pair of touchdown passes, put the Giants in position to win the game with a couple of catches on the final drive, and made some crucial blocks.
LaCosse is one of the biggest winners of the game, but the question is whether or not he has done enough to make the Giants’ roster.
- Fullback Corollary - Shane Smith looks like a winner in the fullback competition, starting early and playing often throughout the game. Jacob Huesman didn’t see the field until late in the game. The bigger question is whether or not Smith has done enough to force his way on to the roster with LaCosse finally appearing to blossom.
Loser - Will Tye
If it weren’t for Tye’s fumble on the second play of the game, the tight end position might be a winner without a loser. Tye made good plays later in the game, but losing the ball on his first play just leaves a sour taste.
Loser - The Giants’ Depth Chart
Michael Hunter still hasn’t returned to the field, Donte Deayon’s deficiencies were on display when he gave up a touchdown in the first quarter, and the secondary was a sieve in the second half. The Giants might be okay with Hunter and Deayon backing up Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but they’ll likely be paying attention when 31 other teams make their cuts over the next two days.
Recent addition Tim Scott might have done enough to catch the coaches’ eyes. However, he missed a chance to make a statement when he missed a potential game-ending interception on the Patriots’ final drive.
Winner - Aldrick Rosas
Rosas did all of the kicking in the fourth preseason game and was superb. His kickoffs were strong and he made each of his kicks, as he has done throughout the summer. The capstone to Rosas’ perfect preseason was nailing a 48-yard game-winning field goal with pressure in his face as time expired. The big question with Rosas has been whether or not he could perform under pressure, and it’s something they had no way of simulating in practice.
Rosas just did it and likely put a ribbon on the kicking job in the process.
Loser - Mike Nugent
Nugent was perfect throughout the preseason. He did absolutely nothing to lose the kicking competition, but Rosas started out ahead of him and never slipped up either. Kickers are always in demand and Nugent will likely have a job this year, and might find himself a trade chip over the coming days.