A roaring crowd exploded with electrifying enthusiasm at Giants Stadium Monday night, as their boys in blue rolled past the St. Louis Rams 28-16 to improve their record to 1-1 on the year.
Monday was the first time these two NFC foes have met since September of 2008, when the Giants tromped the Rams 41-to-13 in St. Louis. Furthermore, it is the first time the two have met at Giants Stadium since 2005, which again saw a New York victory and yet another reason why Rams QB Sam Bradford and company looked to redeem themselves and get their first win of the 2011 season. The Giants have suffered numerous injuries to key players during training camp and pre-season, resulting in the absence of pro bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee), middle linebacker Jonathan Goff (torn ACL), and first round Nebraska standout cornerback Prince Amukamara (foot) to name a few on Monday night. Similarly, St. Louis was without the services of pro bowl sensation running back, Steven Jackson.
Quarterback Eli Manning and his offensive unit started off with the ball, moving effectively on the ground with key contributions from the lighting and thunder combination of running back’s Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Early in the first, it was apparent that the Giants were dedicated to their running game in order to open up passing options on the outside. New York moved into Rams territory with just under 11:00 minutes left in the first when Manning under threw a fade route intended for WR Mario Manningham that was suddenly intercepted by St. Louis ball hawk CB Quinton Mikel. From their own 40 yard line, QB Sam Bradford floated a beautiful go route to speedster WR Denario Alexander, who was then untouched as he hit the ground. As a result, Alexander weaved all the way down to the Giants one yard line. However, New York’s defensive front came up big and denied the Rams a touchdown thanks to a devastating backfield tackle by defensive tackle Chris Canty that forced the Rams to settle for a field goal.
An early 3-to-0 lead did not deter the Giants, however, as they moved the ball down the field on an impressive aerial attack. On 4th and 4 in Rams Territory, Manning threw a deep fade towards the sidelines to WR Hakeem Nicks, who was originally ruled out of bounds until a pass interference penalty on Rams S Bradley Fletcher that then put the Giants deep into the red zone. Eli capped the drive off with a beautiful back shoulder fade for a touchdown to his favorite target, Hakeem Nicks.
On the Rams next possession, QB Sam Bradford methodically moved the ball down field with ease and played pitch and catch to second round WR Lance Kendricks out of Wisconsin. The thirty yard reception moved the Rams into the red zone, where Rams Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniel, decided to go to a hurry up offense. A swift running attack from the Rams was met with little resistance from the G-Men’s front line. As the Rams crept closer, a bizarre turn of events occurred in which it seemed as if some of the Giants defensive players purposely fell on the ground, faking an injury to prevent St. Louis’s hurry up scheme. The drive again stalled, resulting in a 31 yard field goal from kicker Josh Brown to make the score 7-to-6.
The second quarter was riddled with mistakes from the Rams offense that cost them significantly. A lateral pass from Bradford to RB Cadillac Williams was immediately scooped up by Giants OLB Michael Boley and returned 61 yards for a touchdown. Williams’s costly mistake of not realizing that the ball was still in play gave New York a 14-to-6 advantage in the middle of the second. With less than 40 seconds left in the first half, Manning and company looked to extend their lead with a continued passing attack against a depleted Rams secondary. Eli connected with Manningham on a deep fade route that was bobbled and eventually caught for a 31 yard completion and excellent field position in St. Louis territory. On the very next play, Manning moved out of the pocket and bought time on a Rams blitz attempt, and sailed another 30 yard reception for a touchdown on a spectacular circus catch from young WR Dominique Hixon. The score read 21-to-6 at halftime.
After getting the ball back at halftime, the Rams moved the ball down field with steady contributions from tight end Greg Salas and wide receiver Austin Pettis, who have both proved to be pivotal threats thus far. Unfortunately, the drive ended after a stout defensive performance from the Giants secondary, again forcing the Rams to settle for a field goal. Feeding the ball to Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants were able to up the ante and put together another impressive drive that was finished off with a stellar inside run from diesel running back Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw ended the game with 15 carries for 59 yards (3.9 yard average) and Jacobs finished with 15 carries for 50 yards (3.1 yard average) and a score. On the very next Rams possession, Bradford fed the ball to Cadillac Williams and found several receivers, including Mike Sims-Walker and a 19 yard touchdown reception to Denario Alexander to make the score 28-to-16. Bradford finished the game with 331 yards on 16-of-28 passing. However, the final quarter proved to be anything but pleasant for St. Louis as they were plagued by penalties and several mental errors. The Giants defense kept them honest and was able to hold on for a 28-to-16 victory.
Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin was pleased with his team’s turnaround in week one, after a crucial divisional defeat against the Redskins. Their defense proved to be more effective against the run and their secondary unit was surprisingly good as well in defending the Rams aerial strikes. “We have to be consistent on both sides of the ball and limit mental mistakes. It’s something that we preach to our football team every day. You cannot beat yourselves and expect to win,” Coughlin said. The Giants take on the Eagles in week three and look to build on a solid overall performance and make a splash in the always competitive NFC East. The Rams, on the other hand, are at home against the defensive nightmare of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the Ravens on Sunday afternoon. St. Louis will look to make a statement at home in order to avoid an early 0-and-3 start to the season.