The Giants were thrust back into a harsh reality on Thursday morning while watching tape of their 24-17 season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

After going from 7-7 to a Super Bowl title, coach Tom Coughlin seemed to think that the Giants had put their problems in the past. He coined the phrase “Build the Bridge,” which was aimed at continuing the positive habits from New York’s 6-0 run at the end of last season.

But after digesting Wednesday’s loss, Coughlin suddenly had a flashback while speaking with the media on Thursday.

“Alarming is probably a good word,” Coughlin said. “Upsetting, that we would make the run we did and come back to some of these issues.”

Coughlin cited the Giants’ inability to defend slant routes, the porous run defense, the inconsistent offensive line and even went on to say that the team “didn’t pass very well” or “catch the ball very well.”

Considering those were two strengths of the Giants last season, Coughlin’s concern was understandable.

Giants can’t wave the magic wand of 2011: After finishing the 2011 regular season ranking dead last in yards per rush, the Giants resuscitated their ground attack in the playoffs to run fifth among the 12 playoff teams with a 4.2 ypc clip.

But just because the Giants can do that one season doesn’t mean they can expect to accomplish it again.

“That was last year,” right guard Chris Snee said. “This is a new season. Coming in we knew they were a very good defense, and we weren't effective running the ball in the first half.”

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw finished the season-opening loss with 78 yards on 17 carries, largely because he was able to reel off a 33-yard run in the second half as the Giants were trailing. Obviously, the Cowboys were focused on defending the pass and weren’t inclined to stop the Giants’ running game, which served Dallas’ purpose of killing the remaining clock.

In other words: Those yards were there for the taking and the Giants have a long way to go to improve the running game.

The pass blocking wasn’t any better: Giants quarterback Eli Manning was sacked three times on Wednesday night and even when he did get the ball off, he was still trying to avoid the persistent pressure from the Cowboys defense.

“It needs to be better,” center David Baas said. “There are a lot of aspects of the game and that’s everybody included. That means to elevate their game and just do things better, do things more efficiently and those opportunities will open up for us and the outcome will be better.”

When asked, Manning felt like the Giants were defeated in nearly every component of Wednesday’s game.

“I think there are some games that you lose and you look at it and you just see where you just got beat in all aspects and had no chance,” Manning said. “That was not the case in this one. I thought we had opportunities. We let some plays slip away. We let some opportunities slip away and we just couldn’t make them up at the end, so I think there are things that are very correctible that we’ll be able to do and play much better. We’ll learn a lot from this game, though.”

Keith Rivers feels like a Giant: Rivers missed the 2011 season with a wrist injury, but didn’t show any signs of rust while making seven tackles on Wednesday night.

On one particular play, Rivers was able to hold off Cowboys tight end Jason Witten with his surgically repaired wrist while making a tackle with his other arm.

Fellow weakside linebacker Michael Boley said he saw “great things” from Rivers, adding, “He’s a baller, it shows, that’s why we got him.”

On Thursday Rivers said he now really feels like a New York Giant.

“Before the game I was pretty nervous, and I was able to settle myself down and realize I’d been here before,” Rivers said. “It’s not my first time, not my first rodeo, so to speak. I calmed down and got there and made a few plays, but I also made a few mistakes that I need to get corrected.”

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