Monday, September 19, 2011
Halftime thoughts on Giants-Rams
By Dan Graziano
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Not completely sure what I've just watched, I will attempt to offer my review of the first half that somehow finds the New York Giants leading the St. Louis Rams 21-6.
Mike Sando of the NFC West blog just pointed out on our live chat that the Giants have had some players make unbelievable plays -- the touchdown catches by Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon and the alert fumble recovery touchdown by Michael Boley chief among them -- and that the Rams have not. And I guess that's as good an explanation as any for how a team could look as bad as the Giants looked in that half and still be up by 15 points.
Eli Manning threw the ball considerably better on that last touchdown drive than he had at any point earlier in the game. He had been underthrowing deep passes to Mario Manningham and throwing tentatively on shorter routes, as if he has no trust in his receiving corps. But he let it loose as he got into that two-minute-drill rhythm, and the result was a third touchdown that seems to have put the Giants in control of the game.
The Rams have helped, to be sure. Rookie Greg Salas fumbled a punt that set the Giants up for their first score. And an insane third-down play call on which Rams quarterback Sam Bradford threw a backwards pass that Cadillac Williams failed to (a) catch or (b) realize was still a live ball led to the Boley touchdown. Mistakes doomed the Rams last week against the Eagles, and they've done so thus far to the Giants' benefit.
It's clear that the return of Justin Tuck helps the defense, as he's made several big tackles to prevent big gains by Rams running backs. And it's too obvious to even mention how important it is that Nicks recovered from his knee injury in time to play this game. He's a superstar in the making, and on the first touchdown drive he showcased once again his incredible ability to locate the ball before the defender does and catch it -- even one-handed, if that's what it takes. The Rams have done a better job of covering him since, which makes it more important that Manning trust Manningham and that the injury with which Hixon limped off just before halftime isn't too serious.
Regardless, the Giants should be running the ball anyway, as they've had success doing so and now have the big lead. If you don't see a lot of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs in the second half, the Giants will be playing with fire.