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Rookie Andre Williams has breakout rushing performance

New York Giants running back Andre Williams (44)

New York Giants running back Andre Williams (44) runs past Tennessee Titans safety George Wilson en route to a 50-yard touchdown during the second half of a game Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Photo Credit: AP / Mark Zaleski

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Maybe Rashad Jennings really did have a premonition. Or maybe he was just being supportive, or nice. Or maybe he was thinking about the fact that the Titans entered the weekend with the worst rushing defense in the NFL.

Maybe it was all of the above. Regardless, we do know that the veteran Giants running back approached his backfield-mate, rookie Andre Williams, before Sunday's game against the Titans at LP Field and foretold a "breakout game."

By the time both players told the tale afterward, there was no reason not to, given how prescient Jennings had been.

"He said he had a feeling during pregame that this was going to be a big game for me, and he was right," Williams said after rushing 24 times for 131 yards in the Giants' 36-7 victory -- their first in more than two months.

The total included a 50-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter that confirmed there would be no second-half meltdown for the Giants this time.

That's a heck of a lot better than what Williams produced earlier in the season when Jennings sat out four games because of a sprained knee: 60 carries for 165 yards and two TDs.

Jennings was limited this past week by a sprained ankle he suffered against the Jaguars, allowing Williams to get most of the first-team repetitions in practice.

So while Jennings insisted he could have carried a full load Sunday, he and Williams suspected entering the game that would not be the case. Jennings ended up rushing only twice for 5 yards.

"It's good because he's the type of player who's going to get his confidence and prove to himself, not to us, prove to himself, that he can be that kind of back," Jennings said. "You need that, especially at the end of the year and going into next year."

Next year is everything for the Giants at this stage, so anytime a young player such as Williams gets a chance down the stretch and makes something of it, that's a good thing.

"I think I'm growing every game as a player," Williams said. "My teammates have been rallying around me and Rashad has been taking a mentorship role and just teaching me the ropes."

Even though the Giants led 23-0 at halftime, Williams' scoring run on their first possession of the second half might have been the game's biggest play, given that the Giants had blown a 21-0 lead over the Jaguars the previous Sunday.

Williams had run on the previous two plays and was "a little bit gassed" when he took a toss from Eli Manning, bobbled the ball dangerously, then grabbed hold of it just in time and ran past the Tennessee defense.

Might the bobble have helped in terms of Williams remaining patient -- not to mention the defense having its timing thrown off as it pursued him?

Williams said the latter certainly was possible.

"They watch the ball and every little move you make might have an effect on how their hips are adjusting to the play," he said. "I don't know. I just know the play was blocked up great."

Manning said he was "a little worried" when Williams juggled the ball. "I didn't know how it was going to turn out," the quarterback said.

Fortunately for the Giants, Rashad Jennings did.


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