The New York Giants fell to the Cleveland Browns, 20-10, in Thursday night’s preseason Week 1 contest. The game marked the professional debut of running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants’ 2018 first-round draft pick, as well as the first on-field test of the the team’s revamped offensive line.
Barkley and Jonathan Stewart split carries early, but Barkley made his presence known by breaking off a 39-yard run in the Giants’ first play on offense. That set up a 42-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. Barkley finished the night with five carries for 43 yards. Stewart had two carries for three yards (and an eight-yard catch), while Robert Martin and Jalen Simmons did cleanup duty, rushing for 39 and 38 yards, respectively.
Quarterback Eli Manning played two series, completing 4-of-7 passes for 26 yards, his night ending with a sack by Browns linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Davis Webb took over near the end of the first quarter; he completed just 9 of his 22 pass attempts, for 70 yards over the course of seven drives. He went 0-6 to open his playing time before finally connecting with Wayne Gallman for a 13-yard gain.
The Giants scored their first touchdown of the game following Kerry Wynn forcing Cleveland receiver C.J. Board to fumble on a third-quarter punt return. Long snapper Zak DeOssie recovered the fumble and running back Jalen Simmons scored the 5-yard touchdown run three plays later.
Rookie Kyle Lauletta took over under center for the erratic Webb late in the third quarter. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 26 yards. Alex Tanney stepped in to quarterback in the waning minutes of the game, completing two of his 6 attempts for 10 yards.
Gallman led the Giants in receiving with four catches on six targets for 33 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. did not suit up.
New York’s defense struggled against the pass, giving up 322 yards and three scores to Cleveland’s quarterbacks. These included a 36-yard touchdown grab by Browns tight end David Njoku thrown by Tyrod Taylor and another Njoku score thrown by Baker Mayfield. Mayfield also connected with receiver Antonio Callaway for a 54-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, with cornerbacks Orion Stewart and Leonard Johnson failing to make key tackles.
The Giants defense faired better against the run. The Browns were held to just 50 yards on 32 carries. The unit totaled eight tackles for a loss. Safety Andrew Adams was the Giants’ leading tackler, with six solo tackles and seven total.
Rosas went 1-for-1 in his field goal attempts and Marshall Koehn successfully converted an extra point attempt.
Moments that mattered
Saquon Barkley’s 39-yard run marked the start of his on-field NFL career; as noted, this led to the first points of the game, a Giants field goal:
The Giants gave up two touchdowns to Browns tight end David Njoku. The first was thrown by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, with Njoku beating Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree for the 36-yard score. The second was thrown by rookie Browns passer Baker Mayfield in the second quarter.
Defensive end Kerry Wynn’s third-quarter forced fumble on a Cleveland punt return — plus Zak DeOssie’s recovery — set up running back Jalen Simmons to score the Giants’ first touchdown of the game:
Poor coverage and tackling led to Baker Mayfield connecting with Browns receiver Antonio Callaway for a 54-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter which sealed the Giants’ fate. The second-team defense, in particular, had a bad performance against the pass on Thursday night.
Play of the game
Wynn’s third-quarter forced fumble on Cleveland’s punt return, recovered by DeOssie, gets the nod for the Giants’ play of the night. That turnover, the only one in the game, led to Simmon’s 5-yard touchdown run. This was the only touchdown scored by New York.
The Giants head to Detroit to take on the Lions in their second preseason game on Friday, Aug. 17. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.