Eli Manning threw the ball where only WR Amani Toomer could catch it for a 10-yard touchdown and a 20-6 Giants edge, with 8:48 remaining in the third quarter. Two plays earlier, Manning managed to avoid a turnover by cleanly transferring a handoff to RB Brandon Jacobs, despite that C Shaun O’Hara tripped him up by stepping on his foot. Bottom Line: Manning was extremely efficient (131.4 passer rating).
RB Brandon Jacobs recorded 30-yard and 28-yard runs in the third quarter. RB Derrick Ward went Jacobs on SS Corey Chavous, flattening him to continue barreling for an 11-yard gain on a second-and-10 play from St. Louis’ 40 early in the second quarter. John Carney kicked a 39-yard FG four plays later for a 10-3 Giants lead. Bottom Line: They ran around and over the Rams’ run defenders all day (200 total yards).
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
WR Domenik Hixon’s concentration and hand strength enabled him to snag a high Manning throw for a 9-yard catch late in the first half. That catch moved the Giants to St. Louis’ 17 and set up Carney’s 33-yard FG, with just two seconds to play in the second quarter. FS O.J. Atogwe bit on WR Plaxico Burress’ fake to the outside, which enabled a wide-open Burress to cut across the middle of the field for a 33-yard touchdown catch that helped give the Giants a 7-0 lead 8:49 into the game. Bottom Line: Burress, Hixon and Amani Toomer were all productive.
Pulling RG Chris Snee’s block of Chavous sprung Jacobs for a 30-yard run early in the third quarter. LDE Chris Long shoved RT Kareem McKenzie aside and dropped Manning for an 11-yard sack that forced a Giants punt from deep in their own territory late in the second quarter. RDE James Hall blew by TE Kevin Boss, but LT David Diehl pursued and nudged Hall just enough at the last second to disrupt his path to Manning, who stepped up in the pocket and fired the aforementioned touchdown throw to Burress. Bottom Line: With Leonard Little out, Manning was touched too much.
The up-the-middle pressure of DE Jerome McDougle diverted the attention of RG Richie Incognito, which allowed DT Fred Robbins to shed his block and drop QB Marc Bulger for a 7-yard sack around the midway mark of the second quarter. Robbins added another 7-yard sack on the Rams’ next series. DE Justin Tuck, lined up on the right side, overpowered LG Jacob Bell to get inside and grab Bulger. But his hand got tangled in Bulger’s face mask, and the 15-yard penalty helped St. Louis get in position for K Josh Brown’s 54-yard FG that cut the Giants lead to 7-3, with 14:13 to go in the first half. Bottom Line: They battered Bulger all afternoon.
Untouched MLB Antonio Pierce raced through a huge hole in the middle of the Rams’ offensive line to blast Bulger for a 9-yard sack. It created a second-and-19 situation for St. Louis late in the first half. Bottom Line: Pierce was disruptive.
FS Kenny Phillips got both hands on the football, but allowed WR Torry Holt to wrestle it away from him as they fell in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Holt’s 45-yard touchdown cut the Giants’ lead to 20-13, with just 10:46 left in the game. Nickel CB Kevin Dockery’s early contact with WR Dane Looker prompted a pass interference penalty on a third-and-11 play from St. Louis’ 29, which extended the Rams’ drive and allowed the aforementioned touchdown that brought them within seven points. Bottom Line: They were tremendous, other than one fourth-quarter series.
The game was already decided, but Hixon broke four tackles en route to a 50-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter. K John Carney nailed two more FGs, and is 5-for-5 as injured Lawrence Tynes’ replacement. Other than one that landed at St. Louis’ 11, his distance on five other legitimate kickoffs was respectable (the 6, 1, 3, 9 and one in the end zone). Bottom Line: These units didn’t make any costly mistakes.
Tom Coughlin wisely challenged the official ruling of a Burress fumble at St. Louis’ 10-yard line, with 9:13 to play in the third quarter. Burress was clearly on his back when Chavous stripped the ball. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo used various alignments and blitzes to exploit St. Louis’ unreliable offensive line (six sacks, six hurries). Bottom Line: They blew out a bad team, just like they should have done.