Monday, September 15, 2008

Tuck and Roll: Giants stomp Rams 41-13

DE Justin Tuck returns an interception 41 yds for a TD.

The New York Giants extended the road winning streak to 12 games on Sunday as they clobbered the St. Louis Rams 41-13 and improved to 2-0 on the season. On offense, Eli Manning led the way going 20 of 29 for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns. On defense, Michael Strahan's heir-apparent Justin Tuck continued his impressive play, recording 3 tackles, two sacks, and returning an interception for a touchdown. Despite being early in the season, Sunday's game was a statement game for New York, and the statement was clear: the defending champs are the real deal.

A number of questions surrounded the Giants coming into Week 2:

  • Would the team improve on their effort from last week or "play down" to their opponents as other Giants teams of the past have done?
  • Would the offense find the end zone and convert opportunities, or would it settle for field goals and stall?
  • Would the coaches find ways to better utilize the vast pool of talent on offense?
  • Can the defense take it to the next level and make that "big play"?

The answer was positive across the board for Big Blue on Sunday, as they clobbered a Rams team that looks like it could challenge the infamous 0-16 record mark this season (they've been outscored 79-16 in two games and allowed their opponents over 900 yards). The scoreboard for this one read 41-13, but the score could just as well have been 41-0, if you take away Tory Holt's questionable touchdown and consider the low percentage of Josh Brown's two 50+ yards field goals.

In many ways though, the questions above reflect a deeper question that analysts, "experts," and fans have been asking since training camp opened in July: "Is this 2008 team of the same championship caliber they showed at the end of last season, or were the 2007 Super Bowl champs just a decent team that got hot at the right time?"

Though it's still hard to assess the balance of power in the NFL this early in a season, the Giants' routing of the Rams suggests that Big Blue is more than just a flash-in-the-pan champion, they're right there on top of the heap. This team looks to have some tremendous talent on both sides of the football, but more importantly, it looks to have the qualities of a champion - selflessness, team work, work ethic, confidence, and execution - which are what truly make teams great.

The Stats

The Giants out-gained the Rams 441 yards to 201 yards in Sunday's contest, and held the ball for 31:42. 200 of those 441 yards came on the ground as New York's talented trio of running backs and outstanding offensive line cut up the Rams defense. Brandon Jacobs led the way with 93 yards, while Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw added over 50 yards each. Bradshaw, getting his first carries of the season, also added a 31 yard rushing touch down, the first rushing TD for Big Blue this season.

Brandon Jacobs (27), Derek Ward (34), and Ahmad Bradshaw (44) ran for a combined 200 yards on 28 carries on Sunday.

Bradshaw also caught one of Eli Manning's 3 touchdown passes on the day, catching a screen pass and scampering 18 yards into the end zone. Eli also threw TD's to WRs Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. The two reliable receivers had 5 catches for 81 yards and 6 catches for 67 yards, respectively.

In addition to some great individual performances on offense, the unit also performed very well collectively. The offensive line performed very well, paving the ways for Jacobs, Ward, and Bradshaw, and allowing Eli Manning time to make play after play. Though nobody caught a pass, the TEs also looked good in blocking. Also, for the first time in recent memory, the Giants had a viable 4-receiver line-up on the field. Steve Smith and Domenic Hixon made critical catches to sustain Giants' drives and set up scoring opportunities.

... ...

On the other side of the ball, the Giants defense continues to build momentum. The front seven brought the heat on Rams' QB Marc Bulger all game long, recording 6 sacks and creating pressure from all angles against an outmatched Rams' offensive line. Justin Tuck and Fred Robbins each had 2 sacks, while LB Antonio Pierce and DT Jay Alford each added another. Big Blue's D was also able to add another element to the formula this week - the big play.

Adding to an already monster game, DE Justin Tuck picked off a Marc Bulger pass at the line of scrimmage and returned in 41 yards for a score. It was his first career TD and the first defensive TD for the Giants this season. If the G-men can make such plays a regular part of their performance, the sky's the limit for what this D can do.

... ...

Special Teams was much improved this week. K John Carney remained solid filling in for Lawrence Tynes, converting 2 field goal opportunities and getting some leg on his kick offs. On kickoff coverage, the Giants denied the Rams any shot at good starting field position. Domenic Hixon had a nice punt return in the fourth quarter to set up the final Giants' touchdown.

... ...

With the win, the Giants improve to 2-0 and assume first place in the NFC East. Next week they return home to host the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals.

Stay tuned for "Under the Lens," a more in-depth look at the Giants' performance from Sunday, as well as a post-game edition of Big Blue on the Web. Below you can find additional highlights and statistics from Week 2's win.

Recap Links

You can find's highlights and statistics for this game below:

Stories and audio interviews from can be found on the lower right column of this blog. The same stories and video interviews can be found by clicking here (stories) and here (Giants Multimedia).

No comments: