Running game struggles against Bengals

CINCINNATI – Running back Andre Brown got his first start Sunday since Week 3 but, like everything else the Giants attempted, it did little to spur the offense.

The final rushing numbers: 20 carries for 129 yards and the only New York touchdown of the day came mostly in the fourth quarter when they trailed by 25 points. Brown rushed for 65 yards on seven carries, including a 29-yard gain that led to his 2-yard rushing score with 2:46 remaining. He had rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns at Carolina in his only previous start.

Ahmad Bradshaw had 10 carries for 57 yards but fumbled at the Cincinnati 27 after he had picked up a first down on an 11-yard rush on a toss sweep play to the left. The Giants trailed 17-6 at the time but the fumble was the first of three straight turnovers by New York.

“I was just fighting for more yards,” said Bradshaw. “I was able to break a couple of tackles. I had two guys and I tried to get around them.”

Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Adam Jones were those two guys. Hall was tackling Bradshaw when Jones came in and stripped the ball free. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap recovered for the Bengals.

The Giants had just six rushing attempts in the first half out of their 30 plays. They were down 14-0 before five minutes had gone off the clock but that’s usually not enough to get a team to abandon the run game. However, picking up only two first downs on your first four possessions does make it hard to establish a run game.

The Giants ran the ball just three times out of 11 total first down plays in the first half and gained just nine yards.

“We weren’t getting many first downs, so we were taking what they were giving us,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “It all depends on what the defense is doing, and they were mixing things up really well.”

Bradshaw said Brown got the start because the Giants wanted to open the game up in a no-huddle package. Manning completed a 5-yard dump-off to Brown on first down but then threw two straight incompletions to bring on the punt team.