LONDON — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie called it the easiest and the hardest interception of his career. He ran into the end zone, looked up, and the ball was coming down to him and him alone. He said he almost wanted to signal for a fair catch.
There was so much time to consider the options that DRC said he was worried he might overthink it and drop the football.
Instead, he simply caught it, scooted out of the back of the end zone with 39 seconds remaining in Sunday’s game and sealed the Giants’ 17-10 win over the Rams.
It was Rodgers-Cromartie’s second interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter and the Giants’ fourth interception of the game, and it iced a contest in which the defense led the team to victory with its best performance of the season.
“I’m glad we got the win and we were able to come over here and dominate,” said defensive end Olivier Vernon, who had his most active game among a season of them as a Giant.
It all seemed to click, from the run defense (holding Todd Gurley to 57 yards on 15 carries, with no run longer than 8 yards) to the pass rush (three sacks of Case Keenum and a load of pressures that forced him into mistakes) to, of course, the takeaways. Safety Landon Collins had two interceptions, one returned 44 yards for a touchdown and one that set up the go-ahead score, and Rodgers-Cromartie also had two.
“We knew from the scouting report he’s a small guy,” Collins said of Keenum, comparing him to Drew Brees. “He had to get the ball over our d-linemen and our d-linemen did a great job of putting their hands up and making him throw balls over them. That’s where the balls came from and caused us to get the turnovers.”
It certainly wasn’t a flawless performance, not even in the scoreless second half. The Giants allowed the Rams to convert on a third-and-22 and a fourth-and-10 on their last two drives, which eventually reached the Giants’ 37- and 15-yard lines. They did not, however, allow the Rams to score a point in the final 50 minutes, 13 seconds of the game.
“The focus was there,” Jason Pierre-Paul said. “We were communicating. Each week we’re getting better at the communication with each other, and that’s what we’re putting out there.”
A year after it was ranked last in the NFL, the defense had played well all season. A game like this had the defensive group believing it can go from worst to . . . well, close to first.
“Top 10,” Collins said. “We try to be top 10 in the NFL in defense. It’s 32 [teams] and we try to make a big difference from that standpoint.”