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3 winners, 3 losers as Giants defeat Bengals, 25-23

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Who showed up in the third preseason game?

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have their third win of the preseason, edging the Cincinnati Bengals 25-23, Thursday night.

The Giants have just two weeks until the start of the 2019 regular season and a little over one week until they need to go from 90 players down to their final 53-man roster.

The third game of the preseason is over and done with, so who came away as a winner and who needs to step it up?

Winner - Corey Ballentine

The Giants’ sixth-round rookie continues to show that availability is the best ability by getting the start with DeAndre Baker working back from a knee sprain. But more than just being healthy, Ballentine continued his strong summer and looked like he belonged with the starters. Not only was his coverage tight but he once again showed his tackling ability. While we shouldn’t have to compliment a player on doing the basics well, tackling has become such a lost art that it’s notable when a player — particularly a rookie DB — does it well.

Loser - Will Hernandez

Expectations are high for Hernandez, which is why I am singling him out. Hernandez is a good lineman and should continue to grow into a great guard. But for a player with his upside, three penalties (one accepted) in two drives just isn’t going to cut it.

Loser - Penalties

The flags flew early in often in this game — for both teams. This was a sloppy game as both teams hurt themselves with penalties. On the Giants’ side of things, they limited themselves on offense by forcing the ball backward while also keeping Bengals’ drives alive with unforced errors. They Giants even made life harder on themselves on special teams with penalties to move Aldrick Rosas back as well as on a kick return.

Penalties can be killer for a team and the Giants have just two weeks to lock this down.

Winner - Eli Manning lead blocking

This might not be what the Giants want to see, but I am absolutely here for it. Eli Manning getting out in front of Wayne Gallman on a 14-yard run is nothing but fun.

(Does the fact that Eli was able to stay in front of Gallman say more about Eli’s speed, or does it mean Gallman is slow?)

Loser - C.J. Conrad

As I write this, this isn’t because anything Conrad did during the game ... Mostly because he didn’t do anything until after the two-minute warning.

Conrad was nowhere to be seen most of the second half while the Giants had Garrett Dickerson and Scott Simonson on the field, and that’s probably not great for the rookie when one of the players he is competing with is making plays. That’s what happened when Garrett Dickerson got the ball and made some things happen with two catches for 30 yards, including a long of 18, to get the Giants in position to score.

Winner - Daniel Jones’ toughness

You never want to see both your left and right tackles turned around and chasing defenders back toward the quarterback — those kinds of plays never end well.

But that’s exactly what happened when Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard beat Nate Solder and Mike Remmers almost immediately and met in the backfield to make a rookie sandwich out of the sixth overall pick.

Credit to Jones for not just getting up, but standing in and delivering the ball on the subsequent 3 and 16 while the pocket once again collapsed around him. He couldn’t step into the pass causing the ball to float but Darius Slayton got the uncontested catch when the cornerback slipped. While the result was obviously good, it’s better that Jones didn’t get gunshy after taking a crushing shot.

Honorary winner - Successful two-point conversions

Nobody wants to see preseason overtime, so I have to give a shout-out to Kyle Lauletta, Jon Hilliman, and Alonzo Russell (who’s hustle continues to impress) for not only scoring a go-ahead touchdown, but going for — and completing — a fourth-quarter two-point conversion. That was the difference here, and for avoiding preseason OT, you guys are the real MVPs.