GLENDALE, Ariz. — Add a new kicker to the Giants’ long Christmas wish list to Santa.
Rookie Aldrick Rosas missed a 33-yard chip shot in Sunday’s first half with the Giants trailing only 3-0 at the time, sucking the little momentum Big Blue had right out of the game.
“You don’t want to let it affect you … because it’s early enough in the game, but it would have been nice to be 3-3,” interim coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He didn’t miss by much, (but) it was a miss. We need to make that.”
Rosas fell to 16-of-23 on field goals this season, and his 69.56-percent success rate on field goals is believed to be the worst this season among all kickers still active as of Week 16. Rosas also incredibly has missed a field goal or extra point, or had one blocked, in half (eight) of the Giants’ 16 games this season.
So the next Giants GM will need to continue searching for a permanent solution at kicker, a problem created by the Giants’ spring 2016 re-signing of Josh Brown, who had abused his wife, and being forced to release him that October.
Veteran Robbie Gould replaced Brown for the remained of last season but then-GM Jerry Reese didn’t re-sign him, and Gould signed with San Francisco, where he was 36-of-38 on field goals and 19-of-20 on extra points entering Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. Rosas is 20-of-22 on extra points.
Punter Brad Wing also continued a down season with some bad boots that failed to win the field position battle. On Sunday, Tom Quinn’s special teams unit overall also remained subpar, coming off the previous week’s disaster against the Eagles, when the Giants had a punt, field goal and extra point blocked.
Not only did Rosas miss the field goal, but they committed three first-half special teams penalties (Eli Apple, Jerell Adams, Ryan Murphy) and nearly had another punt blocked.
Wide receiver Hunter Sharp, signed on Dec. 12 off the Denver Broncos’ practice squad, made his Giants debut and replaced inactive Kalif Raymond and returned three punts for 19 yards and a kickoff for 19 yards, adding two catches for 25 yards.
MAKING (THE WRONG KIND OF) HISTORY
The Cardinals hadn’t scored a touchdown since Dec. 3, going back three games, and their drought reached 11 quarters without a TD through Sunday’s first quarter. In fact, when Phil Dawson kicked an early field goal for a 3-0 Arizona lead, it had marked Dawson accounting for 33 straight Cardinal points.
But of course, Spagnuolo’s Giants defense played the part of slumpbusters, surrendering two Stanton TD passes straddling the half to Fitzgerald and John Brown. The Cardinals drove 79 yards in nine plays for the first score and 75 yards in 11 plays for the second.
Meanwhile, FOX’s Dick Stockton on the game broadcast said after the Giants’ second punt that the Giants led the league with 52 three-and-outs on offense this season. At least DB Ross Cockrell made two impressive interceptions in the second half, the first in the end zone to deny Fitzgerald a second TD.
Fitzgerald, though, torched the Giants for nine catches for 119 yards and a TD. And Spagnuolo admitted of the veteran receiver, who wears No. 11: ““No. 11 is probably my fault. We should have doubled him more.”
Second-year corner Eli Apple committed an early special teams holding penalty and otherwise barely played, back in the doghouse after returning from a four-game scratch to play 60 snaps in the previous week’s loss to the Eagles.
Apple sat on the bench despite starting corner Brandon Dixon being beaten for two Cardinals TD passes. An NJ.com report on Saturday revealed that Apple’s falling out this summer with stepfather Tim Apple, a major part of his support structure, is a big reason for his tumultuous second NFL season.
Spagnuolo had strange responses to Apple’s inactivity.
“I left that to the defensive coaches ‘cause I’m not in tune,” Spagnuolo said. “He was gonna get in there in some dime situations. The guys that have been in there, that have been playing together for a little bit, the continuity’s been good.”
As for at least replacing the struggling Dixon with Apple, Spagnuolo strangely added: “I don’t know if we had that conversation. It probably would have been a good one to have. And I would say this, maybe there’s something I’m not aware of right now.”
ODDS AND ENDS
The Giants ran the ball 20 times for 43 yards. In fact, at 2nd and 2 in the second quarter, they ran twice with three offensive tackles on the field and gained just one yard total, just before Rosas missed his FG … The Cardinals’ Kareem Martin, a fourth-year LB with 21 tackles and no sacks on the season, blew by Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers to pressure Manning before his second interception to Bethea in the first half. And then Martin torched Giants right tackle Bobby Hart to force a Manning fumble in the third quarter to force a Giants punt … Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon iced the game with a sack-fumble on a blitz in the fourth that defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche returned 21 yards for the touchdown.
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