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Giants grades: Defense helps overcome anemic offense

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt (18)

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) and New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20), left, battle for the ball during an NFL game between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Tim Ireland


The Giants had only one possession of more than seven plays, their only touchdown came on a 35-yard drive, and their longest gain from scrimmage was 25 yards. They should be thanking the group named after their grade here for winning the game. The offensive line did a very good job of protecting Eli Manning from a tough Rams front, but the running game (36 yards on 20 carries) was almost nonexistent. Manning completed 24 of 37 passes but for only 196 yards (8.2 yards per completion). Victor Cruz led the team with 55 receiving yards. The Giants turned the ball over to hand the Rams a touchdown, and they were 4-for-13 on third downs.


The best performance of the year for this unit, which included three sacks, four takeaways, a defensive touchdown and a pretty good run defense. Olivier Vernon had four really good quarterback hurries and even had a strip-sack negated when Case Keenum recovered the ball and threw it for an incompletion. Janoris Jenkins was very strong against his former team. The reason they don’t get an A? Letting the Rams convert on third-and-22 and fourth-and-10 in the final drive and allowing 9 of 19 third-down conversions is no way to live.


The Giants made two really nice special teams plays in the game and neither did any bit of good. The first was Roger Lewis Jr. forcing a fumble on a punt return which was ultimately recovered by the Rams. The second was when punt returner Dwayne Harris made a big block on a gunner but the ball was downed at the 6-yard line. New kicker Robbie Gould had a nondescript (i.e. he did not mess up) debut for the Giants. Brad Wing punted eight times with two inside the 20 and one touchback.


Keeping the team focused on a tough extended road trip like this is difficult, and the Giants seemed able to do just that. Throw in the distraction of leaving Josh Brown behind due to an off-the-field issue and it could have been tough for the players. It wasn’t. The offense continues to be less than the sum of its parts and the Giants’ insistence on using three-receiver sets without a fullback or a decent blocking tight end is difficult to digest. Defensively the Giants did have a very strong game plan to put pressure on Keenum and force him to make mistakes. He made four of them and the final three Rams possessions ended on interceptions.


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