- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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And it was about as pleasant as seeing Manning deliver his impromptu audition for "True Blood" on Monday Night against the Jets.
Fortunately for Tom Coughlin, the franchise quarterback has superhuman healing powers. Manning had his 12 stitches removed from his forehead and will return to practice this coming week.
"He's done well," Coughlin said. "The healing process is well under way. I wasn't kidding, I was serious, he does heal fast."
If only the rest of Coughlin's players could get healthy as quickly as their mild-mannered quarterback. With several starters on offense sitting out with injuries or for precautionary reasons, the Giants lost 24-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday at New Meadowlands stadium.
The Giants were missing Manning, their two starting guards (Chris Snee and Rich Seubert) and Brandon Jacobs was a surprise addition to the injury report. Jacobs sat out with a stiff neck he suffered from lifting weights. Jacobs underwent an MRI that revealed nothing serious and the battering ram should be back in practice this coming week.
With Manning watching on the sideline with a baseball cap and shorts on and injured backup Jim Sorgi standing next to him, the Giants went with third-string quarterback Rhett Bomar. While the second-year quarterback has talent, this was his first real taste of NFL football. Predictably, the passing game sputtered, as Bomar, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, completed 13-of-26 passes for 167 yards and one interception.
Making matters worse was that Coughlin had to discipline starters Ahmad Bradshaw and Antrel Rolle for arriving late to team meetings and start running back D.J. Ware and safety Sha'reff Rashad for half of the first quarter.
And of course, both Ware and Rashad suffered concussions and were knocked out later in the game.
For those keeping score at home, the Giants have had three head injuries in two preseason games. Fortunately, the most important head injury turned out to not be serious despite looking gruesome. Manning somehow came away without a concussion after he was drilled by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace and had his helmet knocked off before banging his forehead on Jets safety Jim Leonhard's facemask.
The Giants have been spoiled by the fact that Manning virtually never misses a game. He has started 87 straight regular season games and nothing keeps him out whether it be a bruised shoulder suffered in the season opener in 2007 against the Cowboys or a three-inch gash to his forehead after the Jets made him look like a human crash test dummy.
Without Manning, the Giants offense gained 160 yards in the first half compared to Pittsburgh's 217. The Giants managed just seven points by halftime but Perry Fewell's defense held the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger to 10 points in the first half.
While Coughlin did see some positives like the play of his first-team defense and safety Kenny Phillips and middle linebacker Keith Bulluck's return to action, the Giants delivered the best news of the night after the game.
Eli will be back.
"I think Eli has a chance to play next week," Reese said. "We will see how that goes. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays some next week."
6hEric D. Williams
2dBy Ian O'Connor