By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants (6-9) were a bit out of their element in St. Louis. In the Tom Coughlin-era, the head coach has preached to always turn the other cheek, even as the team lacked passion during a seven-game losing streak. But the Jeff Fisher-led St. Louis Rams (6-9) tried to bully the visitors from the Big Apple, something unexpected happened, the Giants pushed back.
Despite incurring 12 penalties for 141 yards, and two player ejections, the Giants stuck together and shredded a vaunted Rams’ defense for 514 total yards as New York pushed its modest winning streak to three games with a 37-27 decision at the Edward Jones Dome.
TEAM OFFENSE: B+
There is no deduction for the penalties and ejections associated with Alec Ogletree’s cheap shot of Odell Beckham, Jr. If, as Fox Sports’ Laura Okmin suggested, the Rams were tired of hearing about the Giants’ rookie, then that should have been taken care of between the white lines and within the confines of NFL rules. Ogletree’s hit was a message shot, and the NFL should take strong action with him, if it wants to curb what happened in the aftermath of the cheap shot.
Preston Parker lost his cool and came out swinging, and he was rightfully ejected. Surely he will hear from the NFL as well. In addition, Damontre Moore also let his emotions get the best of him, and he was given the boot as well. It probably is no coincidence that Jeff Fisher is the Rams’ head coach, and bounty-gate infamous Gregg Williams is his defensive coordinator.
There are deductions for the offense because of the holding penalties, specifically the three by Will Beatty, who had been having a solid season. The offensive line gave a solid effort in protecting Manning against a defensive unit that obviously read too many recent press clippings. Overall the offensive unit accumulated 514 total yards on the afternoon.
Quarterback Eli Manning was solid; completing 78 percent (25 of 32) of his passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns. Beckham had his weekly highlight, a terrific one-handed grab in the first quarter. Overall he caught eight passes for 148 yards and two scores. Rams’ safety T.J. McDonald was so enamored of himself as the new Ronnie Lott, he forgot the deep coverage against Beckham. The result was an incredibly easy 80-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter.
It is week 16, and Rueben Randle finally showed up. He had six catches on six targets for 132 yards and one touchdown. If this effort can be channeled for the 2015 season, then the passing attack will be lethal with a healthy Victor Cruz in the fold. Rookie running back Andre Williams had 110 yards on the ground on 26 carries, but the bulk came on one 45 yard run. Otherwise, Williams averaged 2.6 yards per carry on his other 25 attempts.
Kudos to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo for a solid game plan and for staying committed to the rushing attack. Rookie Orleans Darkwa had a 12-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Beckham’s two touchdowns give him 11 on the season, as he continues his record breaking season.
TEAM DEFENSE: C
The defense gave up two easy scores, which could have been deadly if the offense had stumbled at all. The offense was ready to figuratively knockout the Rams in the third quarter, and Mark Herzlich allowed tight end Lance Kendricks a free release off of the line of scrimmage. Kendrick’s score pulled to Rams to within a touchdown at 27-20.
Then when the game was all but sealed, another miscommunication between Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Stevie Brown in the secondary meant that Chris Givens was incredibly open for a 47-yard touchdown from Shaun Hill. The play gave St. Louis life, at a time when basic defensive coverage would have meant that the Rams would have had to dink and dunk their way down field for a score.
Defensive end Kerry Wynn had the Lawrence Taylor hat trick. The undrafted rookie free agent had an interception, fumble recovery and a sack on the afternoon. After replacing an ineffective Mathias Kiwanuka on injured reserve, the Giants lucked into seeing what this kid can do, and after today’s activities, Wynn may have passed Damontre Moore on the depth chart. Wynn can thank a butter fingered Tavon Austin for letting a pass slip through his hands on the interception.
Jason Pierre-Paul had another sack on the afternoon, as he appears to be coming alive at the end of the season. Giants’ general manager Jerry Reese has a huge decision to make about re-signing JPP to be the centerpiece of the defense moving forward. If the G-men let him go, then they would have to replace his production on the defensive line, which will be difficult to do.
As the season winds down, it has become more apparent that Jameel McClain is miscast as a middle linebacker, but he needs to be there with the injury to Jon Beason. Rookie Devon Kennard might be most effective as the weakside (WILL) linebacker as he is better at rushing the quarterback than he is in pass coverage.
The pass defense allowed Kenny Britt nine catches in 11 targets for 103 yards. They did keep Britt out of the end zone. Rookie running back Tre Mason ran 13 times for 76 yards with a 10 yard touchdown in the second quarter. Rams’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer only dialed up 19 rushes in the game, while the Giants had 31 non-quarterback running plays.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
The punt team gave up a 41-yard return to Tavon Austin in the first quarter that could have been more damaging than it turned out to be. Austin averaged 20.3 yards on three punt returns. Steve Weatherford had three punts for a 50.5 yard average, so the indoor confines of the Edward Jones Dome apparently suited him just fine. Back to reality for Weatherford as next week’s game is against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium.
Josh Brown had a nice 52-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but he also had a kicked blocked later in the fourth. Brown also had a strange unnecessary roughness penalty on a kickoff when he kicked the Rams’ Cody Davis in the facemask. In reviewing the replay, Davis acted as if the kick came out of nowhere, but the reserve safety pushed Brown onto the pile unnecessarily.
After Preston Parker was ejected, Quintin Demps handled a kickoff return for 21 yards. Rookie Nat Behre recovered a Benny Cunningham fumble on a kick return that set up a Giants’ touchdown.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.