The Giants might not have won pretty, but the operative word is they won.
They held off the Rams, 28-16, to earn their first win of the season.
Eli Manning (18-of-29, 200 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) wasn’t sharp, but his teammates picked him up as the Giants finally put away a frisky Rams (0-2) team led by former Big Blue defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. New York’s defense was solid if not spectacular as they perfectly executed the bend but not break philosophy.
“There’s no such thing as an ugly win. A win is a win,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “With
all the parity in this league … we’ll take a win any way they come.
Obviously there are things we need to correct and get better at, but
we’re still proud with how we played.”
St. Louis couldn’t capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities as they were stoned on three separate occasions when venturing inside the Giants’ 10-yard line. All three times, New York forced chip-shot field goals, while piling in touchdowns of their own when they had the ball.
Despite the seemingly leisurely effort by New York, the Giants weren’t without faults. Manning started off 2-of-11, including an interception to safety Quintin Mikell at the Giants’ 14-yard line, as New York was about to go in for a score on its opening drive. The running game was spotty (109 total yards from Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs), the offensive line had its troubles keeping defenders away from Manning (three sacks allowed) and the receivers couldn’t stay on the field — and when they did, they made little impact.
Hakeeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon each made spectacular touchdown catches, but by the end of the night there were only three wideouts still standing — Nicks, Victor Cruz and the newly-signed Brandon Stokley. Mario Manningham — who led the Giants with three catches for 56 yards — left the game early with a concussion, while Hixon also left for good in the third quarter with a knee injury.
If the Giants have any more injuries they’ll have to dig deep into their practice squad for able bodies.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said as of his post-game press conference he didn’t have further word on the injury statuses of the fallen but “hoped” they’d all be available throughout the week and the Philadelphia game, Sunday.
“We’ll do the best we can. Are there any more tight ends in the stands,” Coughlin joked. “Hopefully [the injuries] aren’t too serious.”
The Giants got serious about slowing down a potent Rams attack as they held them to only one touchdown. Sam Bradford (22-of-46, 331 yards, touchdown) had a very good showing, as well as wideout Danario Alexander (four catches, 122 yards, touchdown), but the Rams still had too many miscues, particularly in the turnover department.
St. Louis fumbled three times, losing two, with both leading to New York touchdowns. Conversely, the Giants only turned the ball over once, leading to a field goal. Winning the turnover battle was ultimately the key, according to Coughlin.
“That was a huge play,” Coughlin said of linebacker Michael Boley’s 65-yard scoop and score off Williams’ muffed lateral early in the second quarter. “Winning the turnover battle was huge. We got a defensive touchdown and we made several key plays when we had to … when you get a defensive touchdown it just makes everything easier.”
The 14-6 margin at that time was about as close as the Rams would get. The Giants tacked on a late score in the waning seconds of the first half when Manning found Hixon on a 22-yard strike. The play didn’t have to be as difficult as Hixon made it out to be, as he juggled the easy pass, but that was the type of night the Giants would have. Every bounce seemed to go their way. Defensive end Justin Tuck said he’ll take it, regardless of how it looked.
The Giants played their type of game, according to Tuck, as they held an almost 10-minute advantage in time of possession. Keeping Bradford off the field was paramount and when it came down to winding down the clock and preserving the win, Big Blue did what it does best.
Jacobs topped off the Giants’ scoring with a nine-yard touchdown with 6:19 remaining. His first score of the season capped a 10-play, 81-yard drive that sucked the life out of the wilting Rams. The Giants, who didn’t score in the second half at Washington, made sure not to repeat their transgressions.
“We needed a game like this,” Boley said. “We should have won last week, but we made too many mistakes. Tonight we made sure not to put ourselves in a hole. It was a game we had to win and we did. It may not have been pretty but we won, and that’s what we needed.”
Despite the doom and gloom following their season-opening loss, the Giants still sit in an opportunistic position, as they get the Eagles in Philadelphia perhaps without star quarterback Michael Vick (concussion). While Coughlin wouldn’t speculate on Vick’s availability, he simply said last night’s win was a great way for the Giants “to keep pace” in the NFC East, as all but the Redskins (2-0) sit at 1-1.
Although it’s now a short work-prep week, injuries heal better after a win and guys move around the facility with more hop to their step. Coughlin said he’s already anxious to get back to work.
“We’ve got a kind of short week now,” Coughlin said. “That means lots of work this week, and we have to see what the injuries turn out to be.”
Big Blue notes
» Manningham will need to pass the concussion baseline tests before team doctors sign off on his participation this week. Should he be unable to go it’ll put added pressure on a receiving corps that is thinning out by the week. Hixon (knee) will also be re-evaluated today. If neither can go, that’ll leave Nicks as the only surefire weapon at wideout going into Philadelphia. Newly-signed veteran Brandon Stokley will have a bigger load, as the Giants will be green with Devin Thomas, Victor Cruz and Jerrel Jernigan as the other options.
»If you’re looking for cornerback Aaron Ross, he can be found either on the sidelines as a spectator, or more accurately in Coughlin’s dog house. Ross was repeatedly beaten in man-to-man coverage – specifically by the 6-foot-5 Danario Alexander – and may have lost his final chance to prove worthy of his first-round tag. Coughlin was not happy when addressing Ross’s woes: “We put in [Michael] Coe in an attempt to find a solution to a problem we were having.” Ouch!
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.