Dec 222014
Tom Coughlin and Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Tom Coughlin and Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 37 – St. Louis Rams 27

Game Overview

Despite the Rams’ overall record, this was a surprisingly easy win against a very tough opponent. St. Louis has one of the very best defenses in football yet the Giants put up 514 yards and 37 points against them.

Aside from the victory itself, the most encouraging aspect of this game was that this was the first time in a long while where another team punched the Giants in the mouth and New York didn’t back down from the fight – both literally and figuratively. That bodes well moving forward.

The downside was the defense surrendered 27 points and 387 yards against what had been the 26th-ranked offense in the NFL. Indeed, had you told me that the Rams would do that well on offense before the game, I would have said there was no way the Giants would have won this contest.

This was a game the Giants’ offense won.

The easy victory is even more astonishing when you consider the fact the Giants were flagged 12 times for 149 yards. Most teams don’t overcome nearly 150 yards in penalties and still win.

Offensive Overview

So much for my pre-game prediction that the Giants would score only three points. The Giants scored 37 and accrued 514 total net yards with 128 yards rushing and 386 yards passing against a defense that had only allowed 12 points in their last three games and had held the Denver Broncos to seven points. The Giants were 8-of-17 (47 percent) on third-down conversion attempts and controlled the clock 10 minutes more than the Rams. And very importantly, the Giants did not commit a turnover.

The Giants were also incredibly balanced, rushing the football 34 times and passing 33 times. And the big plays were back as the Giants had seven plays of over 20 yards and three plays over 40 yards.

The only real downside was red zone efficiency where the Giants were only 3-of-7 (43 percent) or the Giants would have put up over 50 points.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images


Eli Manning played one of his best games in his 11-year career. Indeed, Manning’s 148.8 quarterback rating was his highest in a full game ever. Manning was a near perfect 16-of-18 for 200 yards and one touchdown in the first half, and finished the game 25-of-32 (78 percent) for 391 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. However, there were a few risky throws in the second half where Eli was lucky a defender didn’t come down with the pick.

Lost in the Odell Beckham hype is that when you give Eli Manning solid pass protection, he can be as good as any quarterback in the NFL. How this message is lost on (or underplayed by) Jerry Reese is beyond me.

Running Backs

Andre Williams (47 snaps) had his second 100-yard game in three weeks, carrying the ball 26 times for 110 yards (4.2 yards per rush). While those numbers are inflated by his impressive 45-yard run in the third quarter, Williams did generally run for positive yardage throughout the game and kept a tough Rams’ defense honest. Indeed, I was surprised to see that Williams only rushed for 32 yards on 13 carries in the first half as I felt his toughness between the tackles had a greater impact on the game than that low productivity. Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo have been slammed by many fans for being too stubborn by sticking with an unproductive running game, but in this contest, that balance bore fruit. The Rams could not simply pin their ears back and attack Manning.

Although Williams did give up the sole sack of Manning on a safety blitz, Williams did a very good job most of the contest in pass protection, something many feared would be a problem for him his rookie season given his lack of experience in doing so in college.

Orleans Darkwa (20 snaps) only carried the ball four times, but he picked up 21 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and scored on an impressive 12-yard touchdown run where the Rams originally had him bottled up, but he kept his legs moving and cut back to his right for the score.

FB Henry Hynoski only played 15 snaps.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Before addressing the amazing Odell Beckham, let’s first commend Rueben Randle for an excellent game. Randle (64 snaps) caught all six passes thrown in his direction for 132 yards (22 yards per catch average) and a touchdown. Indeed, this was the type of game many of us had hoped to see from Randle throughout this season. Whether this performance is only a tease or the start of improved productivity from Randle remains to be seen. But Randle was a major factor in this contest. His big plays included a 49-yard reception on the Giants’ opening scoring drive, a 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-16 on the second scoring drive, a 19-yard reception on the fourth scoring drive, a 7-yard touchdown reception on 3rd-and-3, and a 31-yard reception on 3rd-and-4 when the Giants were attempting to run out the clock.

Wideouts – even top ones – are usually not as productive game in and game out as Odell Beckham. Facing one of the best defenses in football, and against a coaching staff and secondary intent on not letting him beat them by any means necessary (including cheap shots and dirty play), Beckham responded with an 8-catch, 148-yard, and 2-TD performance. Beckham caught more passes in the first half (five) but only gained 30 yards. That said, one of those five receptions was a 9-yard touchdown catch.

Beckham (68 snaps) only had three receptions in the second half, but the first was the back-breaker for the Rams. After St. Louis had pulled within seven points near the end of the third quarter, Beckham caught an 80-yard strike from Manning on 3rd-and-10. The play took all of the wind out of sails of the Rams and pretty much ended the game. How did Beckham get so wide open? Ironically it was Randle who drew double-team attention over the middle, and Beckham made a heck of fake to the outiside (don’t blink or you will miss it) to create separation from the defensive back. On the Giants’ next possession, Beckham also caught a 29-yard reception on 3rd-and-4 on the FG drive that put the Giants up by 17 points with 8:29 to play.

Randle draws the double team on crossing route as Beckham's fake to the outside creates separation on the 80-yard TD.

Randle draws the double team on crossing route as Beckham’s fake to the outside creates separation on the 80-yard TD.

For all of Beckham’s on-field productivity (Beckham extended his Giants and NFL rookie records with his eighth consecutive game with at least 90 receiving yards), his confidence/cockiness also appears to be having a positive emotional impact on his teammates. And when the Rams went after the team’s best player, they came to his defense in a big brouhaha on the Giants’ bench in the second quarter. That type of fight has been missing from the Giants for the last three seasons. Beckham was flagged with a questionable taunting penalty after his first TD.

The only other wide receiver to catch a pass was Preston Parker (23 snaps), who caught three passes for 32 yards before he was ejected from the game in the second quarter for coming to Beckham’s defense. But Parker had an impact before he departed with a 8-yard catch on 3rd-and-6 on the second scoring drive. He caught a couple of passes despite taking big hits from Rams defenders. However, he was flagged with an offensive pass interference penalty when he started blocking too early on a TE screen.

Kevin Ogletree (19 snaps) and Corey Washington (3 snaps) were not targeted.

Daniel Fells, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Daniel Fells – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

The Giants ran a bunch of two tight end formations.

Larry Donnell (47 snaps) caught 4-of-5 passes thrown in his direction for 42 yards including an 11-yard reception on the first scoring drive and an impressive,leaping 23-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 on the third scoring drive. He did drop one pass.

Daniel Fells (43) snaps) caught 2-of-3 passes thrown his way for 20 yards. He had a nice 12-yard reception where he dragged his tackler a few extra yards after the catch.

Adrien Robinson only saw six snaps.

Offensive Line

In my opinion, as good as Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and Rueben Randle looked, the story of the game was the Giants’ offensive line against one of the best defensive lines and front sevens in football. It wasn’t picture perfect. Yards per carry were not ideal and pass protection sometimes looked better than it was given short drops and Eli’s quick release, but the Giants clearly won the battle up front. Nobody expected that. What I really liked was the big guys didn’t back down from the chippiness of the Rams players. There was a lot of pushing and shoving after plays and the Giants’ offensive linemen did not back down.

I have given RG John Jerry and OC J.D. Walton a lot of grief this season but both may have played their best game as Giants on Sunday. Jerry in particular deserves special mention for his superlative effort of keeping rookie DT sensation Aaron Donald invisible. Justin Pugh also did a real nice job on Chris Long.

Many are going to slam Will Beatty for his four holding penalties against DE Robert Quinn (two on pass blocks, two on run blocks). I won’t. I thought a couple of those penalties were somewhat borderline and Quinn, who had 10.5 sacks coming into this game, was largely kept away from Manning. Quinn only had one official hit on Manning and the Rams only had three hits overall. Only three hits? Who would have thought that? The only sack given up was by RB Andre Williams on a failed blitz pick-up.

Picture-perfect pass protection on 3rd-and-16 play.

Picture-perfect pass protection on 3rd-and-16 play that picked up 16 yards.

Here Eli makes pass protection look better than it was as he throws off back foot for 23-yard gain.

Here Eli makes pass protection look better than it was as he throws off back foot for 23-yard gain.

Another clean pocket for Manning on 19-yard completion to Randle.

Another clean pocket for Manning on 19-yard completion to Randle.

Note the pocket again on the 3rd-and-4 play that picked up 29 yards to Beckham.

Note the pocket again on the 3rd-and-4 play that picked up 29 yards to Beckham.

Pass protection was not only surprisingly good, but Giants’ running backs also gained 131 yards on 30 carries.

This run only picks up six yards, but note no penetration by defense.

This run only picks up six yards, but note no penetration by defense.

A huge hole right up the middle against the vaunted  Rams defensive front, leading to a 45-yard gain.

A huge hole right up the middle against the vaunted Rams defensive front, leading to a 45-yard gain.

Defensive Overview

The impressive offensive performance covered up for an almost equally disappointing defensive performance. Even with the the injuries the Giants have suffered on defense throughout the season, there is no way the Giants should have given up 27 points, 387 yards, and 23 first downs on only 54 offensive snaps to the 26th-ranked offense with Shaun Hill at quarterback. The Rams averaged 7.2 yards per play and they were 2-of-3 (67 percent) in the red zone. The Giants not only allowed Hill to throw for 290 yards, but the Rams also rushed for 106 yards. Mental breakdowns remain a problem and it could have been worse as the Rams missed some golden opportunities to wide open receivers in the passing game.

The Giants’ offense kept gaining multiple-score advantages, and the Giants’ defense kept allowing the Rams to get back into the game. The Rams scored 10 points on their final two possessions of the first half to cut what had been a 20-3 lead to 20-13. They gave up a 90-yard touchdown drive after the Giants went up 27-13 and later gave up a 3-play, 66-yard touchdown drive in just over a minute when the Giants were up 37-20.

The only positive overall defensive team stat was that the Rams were held to 1-of-6 (17 percent) on third-down conversions.

Defensive Line

The Giants did not play as well against a better offensive line than the team has played in the last three weeks. RB Tre Mason rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries (5.8 yards per carry). WR Tavon Austin chipped in 25 yards on three end arounds. The Giants only officially hit QB Shaun Hill five times, with three of those hits coming from the defensive line. That said, both sacks did come from the defensive ends.

A very clean pocket for Shaun Hill.

A very clean pocket for Shaun Hill.

Jason Pierre-Paul (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit) remains the Giants’ most disruptive player but he was only so-so in this game. His sack came on the Rams’ first drive on a 3rd-and-4 play where he lined up at LDE and ran a stunt with DT Cullen Jenkins. Pierre-Paul was flagged with an offsides penalty that wiped out an interception. (Though the QB probably wouldn’t have thrown that pass without the offsides). That said, Pierre-Paul did cause two holding penalties by LT Greg Robinson in the fourth quarter.

Huge hole for Tre Mason as McClain is blocked and JPP is caught too far upfield.

Huge hole for Tre Mason as McClain is blocked and JPP is caught too far up field.

JPP blocked and linebackers and safeties nowhere to be found on 12-yard gain.

JPP blocked and linebackers and safeties nowhere to be found on 12-yard gain.

Kerry Wynn (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery) did not play as superlatively as his stats suggest, but he played well and seems to be growing in confidence the more he plays. He intercepted a deflected pass late in the first quarter to end one scoring threat. Wynn picked up a sack after the Rams failed to block Pierre-Paul and JPP’s pressure forced the quarterback into the arms of Wynn. Wynn ended the game with a fumble recovery on a bad snap by the center. Wynn has good size and he is a heady player with very good awareness.

Oddly, the only other defensive linemen to show up on the stat sheet were Johnathan Hankins (1 tackle) and Jenkins (1 QB hit). It was a game to forget for Hankins who was barely noticeable and was flagged twice (offsides and defensive holding). Jenkins had a couple of decent rushes but was flagged for a borderline roughing-the-passer penalty.

Mike Patterson, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, and Damontre Moore all played but did not show up on the stat sheet and did not make their presence felt in the game.


The linebacker/safety coverage on the tight ends was not ideal as Rams tight ends caught eight passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Running backs chipped in with three receptions for 26 yards. In addition, the linebackers were nowhere to be found on a couple of longer RB Tre Mason runs.

Note how Herzlich, McClain, and Brown are all bunched together on pitch play to left that scored.

Note how Herzlich, McClain, and Brown are all bunched together on pitch play to left that scored.

Jameel McClain led the team in tackles (7) and QB hits (2). On one blitz up the middle, he smashed into Shaun Hill as he released the pass, helping to cause an incompletion and punt.

A blitzing McClain smashes into the QB, causing an incomplete pass on 3rd down.

A blitzing McClain smashes into the QB, causing an incomplete pass on 3rd down; JPP also hit the QB on the play.

In the second half, McClain was unblocked on an outside blitz, causing an incompletion on 3rd-and-6. This was an unusual formation from Fewell as he had two linemen in a down position, one standing up (Wynn, who stunted all the way to the right), and McClain rushing from a two-point stance. This seemed to confuse the Rams.

Rams blockers were confused by this formation.

Rams blockers were confused by this formation, leading to a QB hit and incompletion.

Mark Herzlich had 5 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 pass defense, but he also got burned in coverage on a 23-yard touchdown pass by TE Lance Kendricks in the third quarter.

Herzlich beat badly for a 23-yard TD.

Herzlich beat badly for a 23-yard TD.

Devon Kennard (4 tackles) was quieter than usual.

Defensive Backs

Shaun Hill completed 24-of-32 passes (75 percent) for 290 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception (not his fault) for a 110.2 QB rating. And it would have been worse had Hill not missed some wide open receivers, including one in the end zone at the end of the first half.

Shaun Hill missed this wide open receiver at end of first half on what should have been a TD.

Shaun Hill missed this wide open receiver at end of first half on what should have been a TD.

Tight end wide open deep down middle but Hill overthrows him.

Tight end wide open deep down middle but Hill overthrows him.

In terms of the wide receivers, the only consistent performer was Kenny Britt who caught 9-of-11 passes thrown in his direction for 103 yards. The other Rams’ receivers only caught four passes, but one of them was a 47-yard touchdown pass where either CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or S Stevie Brown or both mentally messed up. These mental breakdowns are a regular occurrence in Perry Fewell’s defense and it is getting old. This was not the case of two inexperienced players who were filling in for injured starters making a mistake – it was the team’s premiere CB and starting free safety.

Who was supposed to cover the WR deep on this TD? Who knows? But this happens to often.

Who was supposed to cover the WR deep on this TD? Who knows? But this happens too often.

The only defensive back to break up a pass was nickel back Mike Harris. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was flagged with a 26-yard pass interference penalty on a play where he intercepted a pass. This was key play on the Rams’ first touchdown drive. DRC also had another interception wiped out on a free play due to an offsides penalty.

Zack Bowman didn’t look sharp. He got beat on a deep post to Kenny Britt. The ball was underthrown and Bowman was lucky a flag was not thrown.

Antrel Rolle (5 tackles) and a face mask penalty was pretty quiet.

Special Teams

Josh Brown and Zak DeOssie were flagged with personal foul penalties on Rams’ returns that helped St. Louis get two field goals. The Giants also had a 29-yard field goal blocked late in the 4th quarter. Brown did kick field goals of 29, 37, and 52 yards.

Brown kicked off eight times with three of his kickoffs going for touchbacks. The other five were returned for an average of 18 yards per return with a long return of 25 yards. Orleans Darkwa forced a fumble on the Rams’ first kickoff return that Nat Berhe recovered. Berhe also made a nice play by tackling the ball carrier at the 10-yard line on another return.

Steve Weatherford punted three times, averaging 50.7 yards per punt but only netting 30.3 yards. The Giants gave up punt returns of 41 and 17 yards to Tavon Austin.

Preston Parker returned one kickoff for 24 yards and Quintin Demps returned one for 21 yards. The Giants did not return a punt as Odell Beckham fair caught three.

(New York Giants at St. Louis Rams, December 21, 2014)
Dec 212014
The Big Melee, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

The Big Melee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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The New York Giants defeated the St. Louis Rams 37-27 on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the third win in a row for the Giants who have now improved their overall record to 6-9.

The 37 points scored by the Giants was the most given up this season by a Rams’ defense that is one of the best in the NFL. The Giants gained 514 total net yards on offense and controlled the clock for almost 10 minutes more than the Rams.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback Eli Manning completed 25-of-32 passes for 391 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The leading receivers were Odell Beckham with eight receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns and Rueben Randle with six catches for 132 yards and one touchdown. Running back Andre Williams carried the ball 26 times for 110 yards.

Passions ran high in this contest as there were a number of dirty plays and cheap shots made by Rams’ players, culminating in a sideline fight in the second quarter after Beckham was hit late of out of bounds. Three players were ejected from the contest, including wide receiver Preston Parker and defensive end Damontre Moore.

“‘That dirty shit don’t make them tough,” said linebacker Jameel McClain after the game. “God damn that is a dirty ass team. They suck as an organization.”

“They were playing nasty football,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “They were taking cheap shots. I felt like they were trying to take Beckham out of the game…You can play physical but they were going over and beyond. Everyone saw that.”

The Giants were flagged 12 times for 149 penalty yards while the Rams were flagged nine times for 76 yards.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants scored 20 first half points, including 10 on their first two possessions of the game. New York received the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in 10 plays to set up a 29-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown. The big play on this drive was a 49-yard pass to Randle.

On the ensuing Rams’ kickoff return, reserve running back Orleans Darkwa forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Nat Berhe at the St. Louis 21-yard line. Five plays later, Manning hit Beckham for a 9-yard touchdown and the Giants were quickly up 10-0.

The Rams then started with superb field position at the Giants’ 48-yard line after a return to the 37-yard line and 15-yard personal foul penalty on the kickoff. The Rams’ offense only gained 15 yards but it was enough to set up a successful 51-yard field goal to cut the New York lead to 10-3.

The Giants punted on their third possession but quickly got the ball back when rookie defensive end Kerry Wynn intercepted a pass at the Giants’ 37-yard line and returned it seven yards. New York moved the ball 37 yards in seven plays to set up Brown’s 37-yard field goal as the Giants went up 13-3.

Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Orleans Darkwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Rams punted on their next series and the Giants responded with an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive, culminating with a 12-yard touchdown run by Darkwa.

Although the Giants were now up 20-3 and seemingly in control, the Rams scored the final 10 points of the first half, first with a 5-play, 74-yard touchdown drive and then with a 9-play, 58-yard field goal drive. In between these two possessions came the big fight that caused three players to be ejected.

At the half, the Giants led 20-13.

The Rams received the ball to start the second half but punted after gaining two first downs. The Giants then responded with another impressive drive, this one for 87 yards in 13 plays, finishing with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Randle. On this drive, Williams broke off a 45-yard run. The Giants now led 27-13.

New York’s defense could not hold, however, and the Rams responded with their own impressive drive, going 90 yards in 10 plays to cut the Giants’ lead to a touchdown again at 27-20. On 3rd-and-10 on the ensuing Giants’ possession, Manning found Beckham all alone deep for an 80-yard touchdown strike as the Giants again went up by two scores, 34-20, near the end of the third quarter.

The Rams punted on their next possession and the Giants then drove 56 yards in 10 plays to set up a successful 52-yard field goal by Brown to go up 37-20. Both teams exchanged punts. With 5:14 to play, the New York defense allowed St. Louis to drive 66 yards in just over a minute to cut the score to 37-27 as there was a breakdown in coverage on a 47-yard touchdown pass.

The ensuing Rams’ onside kick went out of bounds and the ball was awarded to the Giants. New York reached the St. Louis 11-yard line but a 29-yard field goal attempt by Brown was blocked. However, on the Rams’ next offensive snap, Wynn recovered a fumble at the 12-yard line to end the game.

Video highlights of the game are available at

Post-Game Player Media Q&A’s: Video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were RB Rashad Jennings (ankle), TE Jerome Cunningham, OG Eric Herman, OG Adam Gettis, DT Dominique Hamilton, LB James Davidson, and CB Jayron Hosley.

NY Post Q&A With LB Devon Kennard: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with Devon Kennard by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on the New York Giants Offense: Giants’ offense still a work in progress by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on WR Rueben Randle: Why Rueben Randle has been one of the Giants’ biggest letdowns by Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul and S Antrel Rolle: NY Giants should bring back Antrel Rolle and Jason Pierre-Paul after late surge by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Dec 192014
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants at St. Louis Rams, December 21, 2014

The Giants 2-game winning streak – which really should have been a 3-game winning streak had it not been for the unbelievable collapse against the Jaguars – has some fans feeling a little better than they did last month. However, despite their 6-8 record, the Rams are a major upgrade in competition for New York and the best team the Giants have played since losing to Dallas on November 23. The Rams are an ascending team that has beaten some of the NFL’s best, including the Broncos and Seahawks. There are some serious match-up problems for the Giants in this game. We’re about to see if this little December “run” has been a mirage.


First Down
Can the blockers up front give Eli Manning a chance?
The Rams have arguably the best defensive line in football. On top of that, Gregg Williams is one of the most aggressive defensive coordinators in football. He doesn’t care if his down four can do the job all by themselves, he will still bring the blitz in any situation. The Rams are fast, physical, and very good up front. This may be the best pass rushing team the Giants face all year and that’s saying something when you consider some of the teams the Giants have already played. Two huge match-up problems for the Giants are DT Aaron Donald (8 sacks) versus RG John Jerry and RDE Robert Quinn (10.5 sacks) versus LT Will Beatty. The Rams also have an NFL-high 23 sacks from blitzes and will be facing a group of linemen, tight ends, and backs who have not excelled against blitzing defenses this year.

Second Down
Will Eli Manning avoid the killer mistake?
Love him or hate him, we all know that Eli at times will make some mind-blowing mistakes, especially when under constant duress and/or becoming frustrated. With no running game, Eli will be under siege on Sunday. He is going to get hit a lot. He is facing a team whose defense is peaking. But the Rams do have issues of their own on offense. Eli has to play smart and not put his defense in a bad position. Throw the ball away. Take the sack. If the play isn’t there, punt. Don’t turn the football over. That includes fumbles as well as interceptions. Eli has to become more of a game manager on Sunday.

Third Down
What can Odell Beckham do against a talented and well-coached defense whose #1 game plan will be to take him out of the game?
Odell Beckham is now officially a marked man. Ben McAdoo has done a fantastic job of moving him around – outside, inside, backfield, etc. – just to make it more difficult for opposing defenses to double and possibly triple-team him. Gregg Williams is a dick, but he’s a very good defensive coordinator. He will make it his defense’s duty to not let Beckham beat them. The Rams will get their hands on Beckham, hit him with or without the ball, and try to get into his head. St. Louis defensive backs have talked about it all week…they are intent on not letting Odell do his thing against them. Can Odell overcome all of that and get into their heads?

Fourth Down
Can the Giants defense rise to the challenge?
The Giants offense will not be able to score a lot of points against this opponent. The only chance the Giants have is if the NYG defense – which has played very well at times during the last three weeks – can play a complete game on Sunday against a team with quarterback issues. Much of that is on the players, but also much is on Perry Fewell. The Giants can ill-afford giving up a couple of touchdown drives. The Giants need to play like the Cardinals did against the Rams – blow for defensive blow – in  a game that ended 12-6. The defense can’t start slow or finish slow. No letup. Force three-and-outs and turnovers.


The Rams have some size on the offensive line and some talented skill players. I would say the best thing they do offensively is use misdirection and trick plays to help cover for issues at the quarterback position. WR Tavon Austin is a very fast, quick, dynamic play-maker who actually touches the ball more as a rusher (31 rushes) than receiver (28 receptions). The troubled but talented ex-Titan Kenny Britt can make plays. TE Jared Cook leads the team in receptions. The Rams will spread the football around. There are seven players on the team with over 20 receptions.

The quarterback. Aging journeyman Shaun Hill has taken over for Austin Davis. Hill is more of a game manager and is being called upon not to lose games. The Rams are 26th in offense in terms of yards and 20th in terms of scoring. They struggle to run the ball at times although rookie running back Tre Mason can break the big play. The Rams have given up 41 sacks.

The Rams are very talented in the front seven and have very good overall defensive team speed. The Rams are 11th on defense but that ranking is a bit misleading as the Rams defense has been getting better as the season has progressed. St. Louis is very good in third-down situations and in the red zone. They have only given up 12 points in the last three games.

RDE Robert Quinn and LDT Aaron Donald are the main headliners up front but LDE Chris Long – who missed most of the season – has returned and he is very good as well. Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis are former high-round draft picks and 3-down linebackers who lead the team in tackles.

Perhaps the secondary. It’s a feisty group with good overall athleticism. But even though the Rams are ranked 10th in pass defense, their pass rush probably covers up for some vulnerabilities in the secondary. The problem is you have protect your quarterback long enough to exploit their defensive backs. The Rams run defense has not been consistent, but remains 12th against the run.

Coached by Jim Fassel’s son, the Rams probably run more trick plays on special teams than any other pro team. They are very fast on specials and dangerous on punt and kick returns. Tavon Austin has one punt return for a TD and Benny Cunningham is averaging almost 30 yards per kickoff return.


RG John Jerry
John Jerry isn’t very good. And Aaron Donald – who may end up being defensive rookie of the year – is the type of player who Jerry is likely to struggle against big time.

WR Odell Beckham
He and Eli are carrying the offense right now. And Beckham – who may end up being offensive rookie of the year – is THE reason to tune in and watch the Giants right now.


Tom Coughlin on the Rams – “The team is built on speed and physicality…They are allowing in the last five weeks just 9.2 points per game…allowing in the green zone just 14 touchdowns, the fewest in the NFL. In the last nine games they have 35 sacks.”

Jeff Fisher on the improved Giants pass rush – “I think the Giants are playing better as a team. When you get a lead like they did against Washington, in particular, they are able to roll up and rush. I think their pressure is also a result of the match-ups up front. Their ends are outstanding. They have been winning the match-ups against tackles and they have played some young quarterbacks that are holding the football.”


The Rams defense versus the Giants offense is a scary match-up. The Rams have shown some vulnerability to the run, but the Giants haven’t been able to run the football against any halfway decent run defense. If the Rams were not a blitzing team, the match-ups up front would be scary enough, but throw in Gregg Williams’ aggressive and confusing blitz packages, and one has to seriously fear for Eli Manning’s safety in this game. Eli will be under a tremendous amount of pressure. He has to play smart. Giants fans won’t like it, but I think the Giants have to play it conservatively on offense if for no other reason than to protect the quarterback. I might take some shots on first down. But don’t be surprised to see some head-scratching runs on third down.

The only way I see the Giants winning this game is if the Giants’ defense matches the Rams’ defensive intensity and the Giants somehow manage to not get out-played on special teams. But as well as the Giants’ defense has played at times during the last three weeks, they really have not played a complete game. And while the Rams are not a good offensive team, they run a ton of misdirection and misdirection gives Perry Fewell’s players fits.

Two more bad signs? Jeff Fisher and Tom Coughlin go way back and Fisher has good success against Coughlin. And as good as the Giants used to be in playing in domes, they have now lost four of their last five in domes.

Most importantly, the Giants may have the better quarterback and Odell Beckham. But the Rams are the better football team.

Rams 20 – Giants 3.