LONDON -- It was far from perfect. The New York Giants had their offensive struggles at Twickenham Stadium and barely escaped with a victory.
But a win is a win in the NFL. The Giants (4-3) did enough well, especially defensively, to slide into their bye week with a winning record. That is evident in this week’s “up” and “down” after their 17-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in London.
(Note: This is without the benefit of film review)
S Landon Collins: He was making plays even before the game-changing touchdown. Collins had four first-quarter tackles, which included several big hits. The interception itself wasn’t anything special -- the ball popped in the air and into his arms -- but the return was. Collins showed excellent running skills as he zig-zagged across the field and broke at least four tackles on his way to the end zone. Coach Ben McAdoo said he "looked like a running back." One could say he was more elusive than the Giants' running backs. Collins also added a second interception and finished with eight tackles in a strong individual effort.
CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins: The Giants cornerbacks were dynamite. It was evident that Rodgers-Cromartie was healthier and running better than in recent weeks when he was struggling with a groin injury. He had a pair of interceptions and tight coverage on Rams wide receivers the entire afternoon. Jenkins allowed a 48-yard reception to Brian Quick early in the game but was lockdown afterwards, when he had three passes defended. The Giants cornerbacks looked like the strength of the team on Sunday. And they just might be, if they can stay healthy.
LG Justin Pugh: All-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald's name wasn’t called often in the contest. That’s because Pugh and right guard John Jerry neutralized the Rams’ best player. Donald’s lone tackle for a loss came when he cleaned up a swing pass to running back Bobby Rainey in the flat. Donald finished with three tackles and no sacks in the contest, as Pugh more than held his own in the matchup within the matchup.
TE Larry Donnell: His ball security is a problem. Donnell fumbled on the Giants’ second offensive play of the game and failed to corral a pass later when he was nailed in the back. These kind of plays are piling up for the Giants’ starting tight end. He had several other head-scratching plays the previous week against the Ravens. The tight end position as a whole remained problematic for the Giants. Donnell, Will Tye and even rookie Jerell Adams in his five snaps had trouble with their blocking. It is a significant contributing factor to their inability to run the ball (36 yards vs. the Rams).
WR Sterling Shepard: His production has quietly slipped in recent weeks. The rookie may have hit a mini-wall during a long, physical season. He’s not getting the same type of separation that he was earlier in the year. Shepard managed just 32 yards receiving Sunday on seven targets and five catches. He's averaged 7.25 yards per catch the past two weeks combined.
DE Owa Odighizuwa: It is believed he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. It looked as if he was pretending to take a picture during the celebration in the end zone. If true, that’s a foolish penalty -- especially after Odell Beckham Jr. was fined for this earlier this year -- and one that has become all too common for the Giants. The second-year defensive end should know better. The Giants need to eliminate these kind of infractions, even if was one of just three penalties against them in the contest.