This past weekend the New York Giants boarded a plane to London as part of the NFL’s International Series initiative. Across the pond, Big Blue was pitted against a tough Los Angeles Rams team.
Despite a rough patch that the team encountered midway through the first half of the season, the Giants were back on track with a tremendous defensive display to entertain their European counterparts.
Landon Collins and the Giants erupted on Sunday with a bevy of interceptions to put an end to the Rams’ win streak.
The Giants came out flat on both sides of the ball to kick off the first quarter, struggling to sustain any offensive drives and surrendering key third-down conversions on defense. Rams quarterback Case Keenum tossed the pigskin like a star, posting a 10-0 lead early on. The rest of the first quarter had fans ready to throw in the towel, looking ahead to the upcoming bye week to prepare for the second half of the season.
The Giants defense came alive during the first half to neutralize the Rams' lead. Coming off of a deflected pass, second-year safety and Alabama product, Collins, intercepted the ball with his sights set on the end zone. Seemingly in a trap between the sidelines and a trio of angry Rams, Collins cut on a dime and reversed field while breaking tackles and advancing further into Ram’s territory.
On the other side of the field, a convoy of defenders had developed, awaiting Collin’s arrival and subsequently escorting him to the end zone.
By the time No. 21 hit pay dirt, he had run close to 100 yards just to cover a 40-yard interception return. With the entire Rams offense scattered on the field, Collins had recorded his first interception of the year putting the Giants back in business.
Responding to Twickenham Stadium’s cry for an encore, Collins returned later in the game where he mirrored his first interception with a tipped ball falling into his awaiting arms.
The Rams were gaining momentum in search of the tie-breaker that would put them ahead late in the game. However, Collins’ pick served as a dagger to the pesky Rams who tanked after the deflating interception. The Giants’ offense finally got the spark it needed, feeding off the defense’s energy to take the 17-10 lead. From then on, the defense was on cruise control, as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie joined in on the party with a game-sealing end zone interception, his second of the game, as well as Keenum pulling his fourth. Still, many were critical of the Giants' offense that played lazily overall, despite the win.
Quarterback Eli Manning struggled to find his favorite target, Odell Beckham Jr., and the rest of the receiving core had a tough time hanging on to his sloppy passes. While Brandon Jennings returned from injury to rush for a touchdown this week, the Giants’ running game continues to be a question mark heading into each game.
Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey and the rest of the running back committee struggled in the absence of Jennings, although Jennings was underwhelming as well.
Despite putting together back-to-back wins, the Giants remained at the bottom of the NFC East, thanks to strong play earlier in the season by the first-seed Cowboys, who were on bye week, and the Eagles, who toppled the last undefeated team, the Minnesota Vikings. An even more disheartening idea is that the Giants may find themselves deeper in the hole coming off their Week 8 bye.
However, the Giants are still very much in the mix, as the division is still up for grabs.
The Giants could find themselves on top of the NFC East as early as Week 9, as they host the Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 6. The perfect script for the Giants would have the Eagles atop the Cowboys in their Week 8 divisional matchup, which would bump Philly to the top spot. The following week when the Giants and Eagles face off, a win for the G-men would have them trading places for the No. 1 seed in the division.
Of course, this is simply wishful thinking shared by many Giants faithfuls. Regardless of the outcome of the division, during their bye week the Giants must not look too far ahead. They first need to focus on a week-to-week approach if they want to crawl back up into the playoff conversation.
With half of the season still remaining, Big Blue has more than enough time to change its fate, especially as only one game currently separates the first and last spot in the division. The East is making the case as the strongest division in the NFC, and could easily see two teams in the playoffs by means of the wild card, which bodes very well for the G-men.
Elsewhere in the division, fans are eager to learn who will start at quarterback for the Cowboys when they return. Team owner Jerry Jones stood by long time Cowboys posterboy Tony Romo earlier in the season, promising that the veteran quarterback would assume the starting position once he returned from injury. However, the recent success of his backup, rookie Dak Prescott, has since blurred the situation for the team’s coaching staff.
The Giants defeated the Cowboys in the season opener at AT&T stadium and are awaiting their second meeting later in December. With the recent success of the division, the Week 14 matchup will most likely have playoff implications.