Three Giants writers give their impressions of the Giants' 51-17 loss to the Rams:
In this week's Cover 3, our writers break down Sunday's loss to the Rams and the state of the Giants.
The only way you lose a game 51-17 is to have all three phases fail in one way, shape, or form. The offense turned it over three times. The defense allowed 473 yards of offense, including pass plays of 67, 52, 44, 44, and 35 yards. They also allowed 162 rushing yards. The Rams punted just twice, including once when they were trying to run the clock out at the end of the game. The special teams allowed a 30-yard return to Pharoh Cooper, had a punt blocked, and Aldrick Rosas missed a field goal. No one escapes blame in this one.
Despite the final score, you wonder how this game changes if a few plays go differently early in the game. The game was just 10-7 Rams when Wayne Gallman fumbled in Rams territory on a first-down carry with the Giants moving the ball well on the ground. The Rams would score on third-and-33 on the ensuing possession to go up by 10. Eli Manning missed an open Sterling Shepard on a deep post with 9:26 remaining in the second quarter that could have cut the Rams' lead to 17-14. Those are three huge plays that could have completely changed the tenor of the game if they went differently.
Fans of the football movie "The Replacements" will know what I'm talking about when I bring up quicksand. During a scene that takes place in a team meeting, quarterback Shane Falco, played by Keanu Reeves, talks about quicksand -- in the football sense. "You're playing and you think everything is going fine," he says. "Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink."
Now, I don't know if Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was watching this the night before, but in the postgame locker room, the veteran cornerback said pretty much the same thing. "It just went bad -- like quicksand," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You go out there and you keep trying to fight but you keep sinking. It's hard, man, but one thing I know, something's got to give." Whether that's life imitating art or the other way around, it rings true for the Giants' season, which just reached the halfway point.
Despite the team's 1-7 record, in the first seven games of the season, the Giants were very much in every contest heading into the fourth quarter. This past Sunday against the Rams was the first time this season that wasn't the case and it had to do with mishaps in all three facets of the team. You can't give gifts to the opposition, especially when you're playing the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL. The Giants turned the ball over three times (two fumbles, one interception) and also had a punt blocked, which is essentially another turnover given the great field position the Rams received as a result of that play. L.A. took full advantage as it scored three touchdowns and a field goal (24 points) off those mistakes. That's how a 7-7 game can easily get out of hand and why New York had to abandon the run in the second half after having some consistent success on the ground in the first half.
The Rams entered Sunday ranked fourth in the NFL with 29 pass plays of 20 or more yards, and the defense had a hard time preventing those explosive plays. L.A. recorded five pass plays of 35 or more yards, including two touchdowns. Sammy Watkins had a 67-yard score after Robert Woods somehow found the end zone from 52 yards out off a screen pass on a third-and-33. When the opposing team is able to score, thanks to big plays, time of possession becomes irrelevant because it's not a matter of how many lengthy drives you put together and how much of the clock you milk; it's what you do with those drives. The Giants' offense was plagued by turnovers (minus-3), on special teams they had a blocked punt and a missed field goal (Aldrick Rosas' 45-yard attempt at the end of the first half), and the defense collected no takeaways and had trouble getting off the field on third downs and preventing game-changing plays. Teams have trouble winning games when one facet has breakdowns, let alone all three.