The Giants got the win they sorely needed Monday night in a 28-16 win over the Rams. And now they're perched just right for Philadelphia next week.
Unfortunately, they may go into it with a couple of questions regarding Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon. Manningham suffered a concussion on the bobbling catch he made in the final minute of the second quarter, and Hixon came out with a left knee injury of undetermined severity.Still, the 1-1 Giants accomplished many good things besides beating an equally injury-wracked team, most notably the neutralization of the Rams' uptempo style and some consistency Eli Manning found after a rocky start. Manning finished 18-of-29 for 200 yards and threw his first two touchdowns of the year. And the Giants found a proper balance with the running game as Ahmad Bradshaw (59 yards), Brandon Jacobs (50 yards), and DJ Ware (22 yards) split up 34 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown.
"That's what we attempt to do," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We always attempt to have a good balance."
The real momentum-turner came on defense, though, when linebacker Michael Boley returned Cadillac Williams' fumbled lateral 65 yards for a touchdown and a 14-6 lead with 10:58 left in the second quarter. Manning ran an effective two-minute drill at the end of the half that culminated in Hixon's 22-yard, bobbling touchdown catch just 21 seconds before intermission.
"We were trying to solve some problems we were having," Coughlin said. "There's nothing wrong with playing a lot of people. But Ross went back into the game to return punts."
Hakeem Nicks: Two huge plays on the Giants' first touchdown drive, drawing a 23-yard pass interference call at the 9 on fourth-and-3, and then two plays later making a snatch-catch around CB Bradley Fletcher on a 3-yard touchdown pass for his first score of the year.
TOM COUGHLIN: Say what you will about him, he's great on challenges. He got a reversal on a first-quarter, first-down completion at the 4 that kept the Rams from going into the lead. Instead, they had to settle for a field goal and the Giants finished the first quarter up 7-6. In the third quarter, he challenged a non-sack call as Justin Tuck appeared to have Sam Bradford down before he threw the ball away. He won that one, too, resulting in a 15-yard sack for Tuck and a third challenge for Coughlin. Last year, Coughlin was among the best at challenge success rate.
MICHAEL BOLEY: Heads up play to pick up the quick backwards pass to Cadillac Williams in the second quarter and return it 65 yards for a touchdown and a 14-6 lead.
DOMENIK HIXON: Hixon's great bobbling, rolling 22-yard catch in the end zone capped a great two-minute drill and gave the Giants a 21-6 lead heading into halftime. Hixon actually made two catches on the drive, the first giving the Giants a first down on their own 47, just before Mario Manningham made a bobbling, falling catch for 31 yards to the 22.
MANNING: He faced the Rams' pressure and, despite getting sacked a couple of times, had a decent outing. He was especially effective in looking for newly-signed slot receiver Brandon Stokley several times, twice allowing him to draw pass interference calls. The second positioned Ahmad Bradshaw for a 23-yard catch-and-run to the Rams' 9 in the third quarter, followed by Brandon Jacobs' 9-yard touchdown run for a 28-9 lead.
JUSTIN TUCK: He played with a sore shoulder but recorded two sacks as well as five tackles.
MANNING: The Giants were driving on their first possession until Manning floated a throw to Mario Manningham at the Rams' 10. Quentin Mikell came flying across for a relatively easy pick, Manning's second of the season. Well, at least this one didn't come back to the Giants' end zone.
ROSS AND Deon Grant: Somehow, those two both fell asleep on Sam Bradford's third-and-11 completion to Danario Alexander as he caught it falling near the sideline. Neither man touched him down despite being within arm's length, however, and Alexander rose and took the ball to the 1. Kenny Phillips got pressure on Bradford on third-and-goal, and the Giants got away with a field goal and a 3-0 defiicit.
MICHAEL COE: The rather inexperienced defensive back got out-leaped by Danario Alexander on a third-quarter touchdown pass, and was caught holding on a fourth-quarter punt return. He's obviously very green.