When will the Giants ever learn?

LANDOVER, Md. -- Chris Canty packed up his belongings and left FedEx Field, feeling the same type of emotions the New York Giants experienced all too often last season.

Angry and beyond frustrated, Canty had no answers for why Tom Coughlin's team just can't seem to get out of its own way.

"We just made the mistakes that Coach Coughlin continues to tell us that we can't make," an exasperated Canty said after a 28-14 season-opening loss to the Washington Redskins. "We continue to do the things that he says we can't do. At some point, we as a team got to listen."

The Giants wanted to honor New York on 9/11. Instead, they struggled on third downs, couldn't convert key short-yardage plays, committed too many penalties and had another special-teams foul-up, along with a costly tipped-ball interception.

In short, these Giants looked like last year's team.

"Understanding what we were representing today and to do what we did out there today ... it's embarrassing," said Canty, who refused to offer excuses for a team that was playing without defensive captain Justin Tuck and a cast of other key players.

The Giants did have perhaps the worst preseason of any team in the NFL. They lost Steve Smith, Kevin Boss and Barry Cofield -- who got a win over the Giants on Sunday -- in free agency. Terrell Thomas and Jonathan Goff were among six defensive players lost for the season. First-round pick Prince Amukamara broke his foot. And let's not forget Osi Umenyiora's contract squabble and ensuing knee surgery, which forced him to miss the season opener.

All the while, the Giants did not play well in the preseason. That continued Sunday, when they were outplayed by a team they had defeated six consecutive times.

Eli Manning ran for only his fourth career rushing touchdown but is still searching for his first passing TD of the 2011 season. Manning completed 18 of 32 passes for 268 yards and was able to hook up with emerging star Hakeem Nicks seven times for 122 yards. But more often than not, the Giants' offense looked out of sync and Manning never really looked comfortable.

The revamped offensive line surrendered four sacks. Manning still doesn't have a third wide receiver to replace Smith: Victor Cruz drop a pass on a third-and-8 on the very first drive.

Smith made a living on third-and-8s. Wonder how much Manning misses Smith and Boss? The Giants converted just one of 10 third downs against Washington.

"Atrocious," Coughlin called the third-down execution.

The third down that ruined the Giants came on the first drive of the second half. The score was knotted at 14-14 and the game was there for the taking.

The Giants were facing a third-and-10 at their own 18. Manning dropped back and right tackle Kareem McKenzie attempted to block rookie defensive end Ryan Kerrigan low. Kerrigan avoided the block, batted Manning's short pass to himself and returned it for a 9-yard touchdown.

After throwing 25 interceptions last season, with at least eight of them being tipped, Manning starts off the season with another tipped pick.

"We were cutting that guy and he did a good move to avoid the cut and tipped it up," Manning said. "Good play by him. Not a whole lot I can do about that."

The offense also couldn't get a yard when it absolutely needed it.

The Giants failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 at the Washington 31 midway through the third quarter and Ahmad Bradshaw was stuffed again on a third-and-1 at the Redskins' 18 early in the fourth quarter.

That failed third-down conversion led to a field-goal attempt that was blocked by the Redskins, whose confidence surged as the game progressed.

Rex Grossman -- yes, the former Chicago punch line -- then finished the Giants by orchestrating a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to go up by 14 with just over five minutes left. Antrel Rolle was also flagged on the drive for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, one of the Giants' eight penalties for the game.

The Giants' depleted defense managed to sack Grossman four times. Jason Pierre-Paul did his best Osi impression with two sacks and a forced fumble.

But the Giants only played in spurts. And that won't get the job done, clearly not against the Redskins, not considered by many to be contenders in the NFC East.

Back in January, the Giants' 2010 season ended here after they finished out of a playoff spot. On Sunday, they looked far from a playoff team on a day when Canty felt they had so much more to play for than usual.

"We are affected by what happens and what 9/11 means to us and what it means to our fans, our city and this country," Canty said. "To go out there and put that kind of performance is unacceptable in every regard."