Week 4 Game Recap: St. Louis Rams 24, New York Giants 44
What you need to know
QB Marc Bulger threw the ball a record 62 times for the Rams, completing 40 passes for 442 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams fell behind early and abandoned the running game yet again, passing on 21 of the first 25 plays and ultimately rushing the ball just 15 times.
WR Torry Holt led the team in targets with 14, and with WR Isaac Bruce out both WR Shaun McDonald and WR Dane Looker finished with double digit targets. However, only Holt found the end zone for St. Louis. Itís also interesting that Kevin Curtis started for Bruce but only saw seven targets.
RBs Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk were used more in the passing game than for their rushing skills. Jackson scored his first NFL receiving touchdown, and also added the only Ramsí rushing score.
The Rams turned the ball over five times, but the first two were the most crucial. WR Kevin Curtis fumbled after an 18 yard catch in the second quarter and a botched end around lateral from RB Steven Jackson to WR Shaun McDonald with the Rams inside the Giants 20 with the Rams down by only ten points. The fumbled lateral changed the momentum of the game, giving it back to New York for the rest of the contest.
On the injury front, WR Isaac Bruce was sidelined before the game with turf toe, and TE Roland Williams was carted off in the first quarter with a knee injury. It was later determined that Williams has a dislocated knee and may be lost for the season.
The New York Giants started this game strong and did not let up. The Giants have scored on every opening possession this season, and they continued that streak against the Rams. They proceeded to add to that by scoring on their first five possessions of this game, posting 27 points in the first half.
QB Eli Manning looked outstanding playing with poise and confidence. He made good decisions, led the team down the field and seemed to be in total control of the offense.
WR Plaxico Burress led the way and was clearly the favored receiver, catching ten passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Most of that offensive production occurred in the first half, as Burress posted nine catches for 174 yards and both scores before halftime. WR Amani Toomer and TE Jeremy Shockey also added touchdown catches.
RB Tiki Barber had 46 yards rushing in the first half, but added another 82 in the second half as he helped the Giants to both move the chains and control the clock with the lead. Barber contributed a 16 yard touchdown in the second half effort.
What you ought to know
|QB Marc Bulger, Pass: 40 - 62 - 442 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets)|
Bulger set a team record for passing attempts by a Ramsí quarterback. Yes, a passing record for attempts by a Ramsí quarterback. Given the propensity for St. Louis and HC Mike Martzís love of the passing game, Bulgerís new record is quite remarkable.
Bulger threw the ball 62 times, completing 40 for 442 yards and two scores. His three interceptions all came in the fourth quarter as he pressed to move the offense, forcing the ball into coverage. The Giants were playing pass only and dropping into coverage, making it increasingly difficult to throw downfield.
Bulger spread the ball around to multiple receivers since WR Isaac Bruce was sidelined with an injury. He still favored WR Torry Holt, targeting him 14 times, but he also looked toward WRs Dane Looker (11 targets), Shaun McDonald (13 targets) and Kevin Curtis (seven targets). Bulger included his two running backs in the passing game, targeting both Steven Jackson (eight targets) and Marshall Faulk (five targets).
Bulger also caught his own pass on a batted ball back to him in the fourth quarter. He grabbed it and ran for one yard.
Another command performance for the rookie, as he made tough throws to help stake the Rams to a lead and to help them ice the game in the fourth quarter. Bradford executes his rollouts, throws on the move with accuracy, steps up in the pocket instinctively, and surveys the field instantly like a grizzled veteran. His calm is transmitting to the entire team, and he is inspiring his receivers to make strong bids for balls in tight windows. Bradford was off on a few timing throws, but his touch on short passes and zing on longer balls is impressive. He threw a perfect ball to Brandon Gibson for the first TD of the game, and his easy-to-catch-and-go screen passes created the other. The Rams have the best QB in their division, and he might soon be one of the best in the league.
Jackson was high and low in the first half as a rusher, gaining zero yards on six carries. Jackson lost yardage on three attempts, but did manage to gain six yards then punch it in from six yards out for a touchdown on consecutive plays in the second quarter for his final two carries before halftime.
Jackson only had three more rushes for the game, gaining 17 yards in the third quarter. The Rams abandoned the running game in the fourth quarter, calling just one running play to RB Marshall Faulk.
Officially Jackson was given a fumble, as he attempted a lateral to WR Shaun McDonald on an end around in the third quarter. The position of the sun may have been a factor in the bad exchange, but the loss of possession at the Giantsí 13 yard line with the Rams down by only ten points was a crucial turnover in the game.
Jackson was more effective as a receiver, catching five passes for 42 yards. His first catch was a 13 yard pass for a touchdown in the opening quarter, his first ever receiving touchdown in the NFL. Jackson added a five yard grab later in the second quarter, but dropped his third target. Jackson dropped two more passes in the third quarter, as all three incompletions were catchable balls for him with running room for Jackson to turn and run. He finished with two catches for 17 yards on the final possession of the game.
Faulk received a bit more playing time in this game as the focus of the offense changed towards passing on most every down. Faulk caught his first target for a 12 yard gain and a first down in the second quarter, but the second target was tipped away by a defender at the line of scrimmage and never got close to him.
Faulk touched the ball as both a rusher and a receiver in the second half. He had three carries, the longest for 12 yards late in the fourth quarter. He also caught the first two passes that came towards him, gaining one yard then another 11. Faulkís final target bounced off of his hand. The sun had become more of a factor late in the game, but it looked like Faulk should have made the reception.
Hedgecock is a rookie who made his first NFL start for the Rams this week. He carried the ball just once, gaining no yards on his lone carry in the third quarter. Hedgecock was also the intended receiver on a short pass in the first quarter.
Cunningham continued to get the 2nd string carries, and continued to do nothing with them, finding the same lack of running room that Richardson did. Cunningham did have a nice 17 yard gain on a screen pass late in the game, but the only thing that did was make Rams fans wonder where the screen pass had been all night.
Darby had three touches in Week 4 against San Francisco, gaining most of his yardage on a 11-yard rush in the final three minutes of the game.
McDonald had a lot of targets due to both WR Isaac Bruceís injury, and also the decision by the Rams to throw the ball on nearly every play of the game. He made the most of the passes that came his way, catching nine of 13 targets.
McDonald caught the first three passes, gaining 49 yards in the first quarter, and added two more catches to enter halftime as the leading Rams receiver with 73 yards. He added just one 19 yard catch in the third quarter, but reeled in four more passes for 43 yards in the last period. His final two targets were both forced passes that were intercepted by the Giants.
Looker caught four passes for 51 yards in the first half, three of which resulted in first downs. He added just nine more yards on two catches in the third quarter, but finished strong with two final catches for 30 total yards in the fourth. Only three balls intended for Looker were incomplete, but the first pass was not close to him, the second was tipped by the defender covering him, and the last was an end zone target thrown into double coverage. Overall Looker produced well in the Ramsí pass happy offense.
Holt had a slow start, due in part to an overthrow on his first target by QB Marc Bulger. Holt was open a good 20 yards downfield and would have run for more, but the ball was way over his head. Holt was at fault on the second target as he dropped the pass.
Holt was more productive in the second quarter, catching four passes for 38 yards. He also lost another 20 yard catch that was overruled on a challenge, which showed that Holt did not have his second foot in bounds. His other target in the quarter was an end zone look, but the pass was batted away by the defense.
Holt added two more catches in the third quarter for 25 yards, and then caught his final pass for a 22 yard touchdown after the outcome of the game was certain. Holt finished the game as the most targeted receiver for the Rams.
As a testament to Holtís durability and production, this game was his 100th career game and also the 95th consecutive game in which he has caught a pass.
Curtis started the game for the Rams due to WR Isaac Bruce being inactive with a turf toe injury. Curtis was targeted seven times, catching all but one pass. He caught his first two targets for 18 yards each, but he fumbled the second one resulting in the first turnover of the game.
Curtis made four more catches, but none longer than 14 yards. He was used predominantly as a possession receiver, running underneath and middle depth routes.
There will be heated debate about Austin among the media, fantasy players who are convinced the Rams are mis-using him, and among fans of the Rams. But the bottom line is that at this point Austin just canít make big plays. Granted, heís a rookie and the NFL isnít easy for any rookie wr. But when he lined up in the slot, all it took was just a little physical bump from the defender, and Austin is immediately thrown off his route. Bradford tried hitting him on a deep crossing route and overthrew him. Bradford also overthrew him on one deep ball in the second half.
But you have to wonder, is Austin big enough? Does he present a big enough target on these types of plays? There is not a long list of successful 5í7Ē receivers in the NFL. On the failed deep crossing route, the already small passing lanes become even smaller when your receiver doesnít have the length to stretch out for the pass.
The Rams are struggling to figure out a way to incorporate Austin into the offense. It doesnít help that the team has two coaches that have zero ingenuity. How about a screen pass to Austin? Perhaps they could put him in motion more? Defenses are getting more and more physical with Austin and he appears to be losing the respect of defenses, as he hasnít shown the ability to hurt teams with his elusiveness. Itís hard to call bust on a player after 4 games, but itís hard to watch this team right now and figure out how Austin is going to make a major impact.
Inactive for this game.
Givens is the situational deep threat for the strong-armed Bradford. He can take the top off of a defense and create holes for others to operate in, however lines like today (1 catch, 52 yards) will be few and far between.
Pettis had a roller coaster type day, most of his troubles came on his punt return duties (he needs to be informed that a fair catch is available). Pettis played the slot position and actually demonstrated a knack for getting open and the grit required to catch the ball in traffic. Danny Amendolaís recent set back might give this rookie an opportunity to produce in the future and maybe receive more of role in this offense.
Quick is beginning to become more comfortable in the offense and it wonít be long before we see him stealing snaps from WR Gibson. He showed good route running and quickness out of his breaks on a pair of post routes, one of which he hauled in for a nice 19 yard gain.
Williams caught one pass in the left flat for a short gain of two yards, but was injured on the tackle. He had to be carted off of the field with an apparent leg or knee injury. It was later reaffirmed by HC Mike Martz that Williams dislocated his knee and may be lost for the season. The Rams were already short on tight ends, as FB / TE Brandon Manumaleuna was already inactive due to a knee injury.
Robinson was forced into action after TE Roland Williams was injured. Robinson was targeted only once on a pass on the first play in the fourth quarter, but the ball was intercepted by the Giants LB Antonio Pierce.
Cook is atrocious at blocking. They might as well make him a wide receiver, and at times it appears thatís what they are doing. Kendricks still plays quite a bit, and Cook lines up way outside on a number of occasions. Cookís night wasnít great. He had one long gain when Whitner dropped an interception and it fell right in Cookís hands for a long gain. Cook just isnít a tremendous route runner. If you look at the tape from the first game of the year, many of Cookís long gains were as a result of great protection. Cook would start at one side of the field, use his speed to gain separation on crossing routes or over-the-middle routes, and Bradford would hit him. But these routes were all slow to develop.
Cook doesnít seem to possess the ability to quickly get free of defenders and get open. As the Oline is falling apart and Bradford is facing heavy pressure, Cook isnít able to help his QB out. Unfortunately he canít block either, so this is a lose-lose scenario for the Rams.
Kendricks in my mind is the reason why the Rams offense is struggling so much. The rookie tight end impressed so much in camp and in the pre season I think he has surprised the coaching staff on how little he can be counted on in the regular season. If Kendricks could just consistently catch the football he wouldíve been the top pass catcher in this game today. Kendricks couldíve easily had two touchdowns today if he only concentrated on catching the ball first.
Wilkins made his first field goal attempt, a 37 yard kick in the second quarter. Wilkins missed his second try, a 48 yard attempt that was long enough but wide left on the penultimate play of the first half.
The Rams were not able to stop the run when it counted, which was in the second half. RB Tiki Barber rolled up 82 yards on 13 carries after halftime, including ten for 63 yards and a score in the fourth quarter. They forced no fumbles and were ineffective in stopping the Giants from gaining ground and controlling the clock.
New York Giants
The Rams let WR Plaxico Burress run free for the first half, allowing him to post career numbers and score twice. While they were able to tighten up coverage on him in the second half, most of the damage was already done. TE Jeremy Shockey was also left open a few times in the second half, which allowed QB Eli Manning to throw for his fourth touchdown. The Rams forced no turnovers and had just one sack.
|QB Eli Manning, Pass: 19 - 35 - 296 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0|
Manning looked extremely good. He enjoyed an outstanding offensive performance by WR Plaxico Burress, who caught a career high 204 yards and two touchdowns. Manning found TE Jeremy Shockey and WR Amani Toomer for additional scores, as Manning threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Manning combined with Burress for 174 yards in the first half, accounting for most of his 205 yards before halftime. His timing could have been a little better with Shockey, as six of his ten targets fell incomplete, including one in the end zone. But overall he played with poise and control. He looked more mature than a second year QB when on the TD pass to Toomer, he checked out of the original play at the line to call the pass.
|RB Tiki Barber, Rush: 24 - 128 - 1, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets)|
Barber started the game slowly, due in part to the fast start by the passing game. Barber had 11 carries for 46 yards in the first half, but he also added a nine yard reception in the first quarter. His only other target before halftime was a pass over his head in the left flat.
Barber was the main contributor to a ball control offense as the Giants extended and maintained their lead in the second half of the game. Barber had three carries in the third quarter, but added ten more for 63 yards and a touchdown in the final period. His 12 yard gain was crucial on a third down and ten late in the game. He also had a six yard catch, yet dropped his final target on a screen play.
Jacobs had just two carries against the Rams, but made significant gains on each. Jacobs ran for 11 yards and a first down in the second quarter, lugging numerous defenders with him for extra yardage after the initial hit. His second carry was for five yards in the fourth quarter, but also gave the Giants another first down.
Rashad Jennings had significantly fewer number of carries this week against Washington and was less productive as a result but most of this is unrelated to his performance on the field. The Redskins seemed determined to stop the running back on Thursday and stacked the box at the line of scrimmage frequently early on. The Redskins had less respect initially for Manning and the passing game. This resulted in few holes for Jennings to work with on the ground but really opened up things in the passing game. The Giants took advantage of the vulnerable Redskin secondary and the running game was less of a factor this week. Jennings still ran tough and gave everything he had on the ground. He got many inside handoffs from the shotgun and used his vision well to pick out the weak spots when they presented themselves. Jennings got many carries in the redzone for the Giants but just couldnít quite get close enough for a score. Jennings should have scored a touchdown in the redzone on a simple checkdown pass out of the backfield from Manning but he dropped the pass and it fell incomplete. The Redskins secondary was a lot stronger against the run than the passing game and Jennings shared a lot of carries with teammate Williams also which hurt his production. The Giants also scored so many points and got a lot of turnovers so Jennings was not quite needed as much on the field and the Giants kept him on the bench for a rest once the game was out of hand.
Andre Williams got a lot more work in this game as the Giants pulled away easily as the game progressed late. The Giants decided to rest lead back Jennings in the fourth quarter and backup running back Williams was given many chances to show his talent. Williams may be a small back but he ran with power and a low pad level on many rushing attempts for New York. Williams is tougher than he looks and fought routinely at the line of scrimmage to push defenders back to gain as many yards as possible. Williams was able to break a tackle on a dive play up the middle, getting away from a defender before turning upfield. Williams was rewarded for his play as he scored a touchdown late in the second half. Williams several dive attempts on the goal line but was finally able to score as he outstretched the ball just enough so it grazed the white paint. Williams ran with a low pad level and pushed back defenders just enough for the touchdown. Williams got a higher volume of carries this week as Jennings was rested. The passing game was also dominant with Manning and the Giants did not have to lean heavily on the ground game this week. These factors must be taken into account when judging Williamsí play but thereís no doubt heís earned his spot as the number 2 running back in this offense but should not be started as a starter just yet.
David Wilson's fumbling issue seems to have resolved itself for now but his production continues to be underwhelming in this offense. The Giants could afford to run the ball for most of this game as the score was close but they could never fully establish a running game. The Chiefs were consistently in the backfield for New York and forced Wilson to reroute his carries at the line of scrimmage, rarely having positive results. Wilson did have some success up the middle of the defense, finding some creases and soft zones to exploit with his burst. These holes were infrequent and the exception to most of his carries however. Wilson ran hard and with a tough physicality that you might not expect from a smaller/shifty running back. When he was afforded some space, he ran downhill and pushed defenders back to get the maximum amount of yards possible. Strangely, Wilson has had more success running up the middle against defenses as opposed to tosses/sweeps to the outside. The Chiefs were able to stuff Wilson on 4th and 1 on a toss play outside, simply scraping along the sideline and piercing into the backfield at the right time. Wilson never got any opportunities for goal line carries and which further hurt his potential production as the Giants were rarely in Chief territory. Wilson is playing hard and is as talented as he'll ever be, but the team's poor passing game will keep defenders in his backfield until something changes.
Burress was clearly the favored receiver. Burress had a whopping 19 looks from his quarterback, catching ten passes, gaining 204 yards, and scoring twice. He was running free throughout the Ram secondary, catching passes almost at will. Most of his production came in the first half, as his stat line read 9-174-2 on 13 targets after the first 30 minutes. Burressí first touchdown came on a crossing pattern in the first quarter, as he caught a pass at the St. Louis 15 yard line and continued across then up the field and into the end zone. He stretched the field the entire half, as eight of his nine catches before halftime were for over ten yards. He added another score in the second quarter on a 17 yard reception.
In the third quarter, Burress finally started to get better coverage. He lost another catch due to a 23 yard pass interference call, and was just out of bounds on another ten yard pass. Burress caught a 14 yard pass in the final quarter, but was called for offensive pass interference. He finished the game with a 30 yard catch followed by a final target in the end zone that was thrown out of bounds.
Toomerís touchdown catch was nothing short of a work of art. On a fourth and goal at the one yard line, QB Eli Manning changed the play at the line, dropped back and threw a quick fade towards Toomer at the left side of the end zone. Toomer leaped, snagged the ball with his hands, and tap danced his toes inside the end zone before falling with the rest of his body out of bounds. The play was reviewed and the remarkable part of the catch was not just his body control, but that he caught the ball with his fingers and it immediately stopped moving Ė there was no doubt that he caught and controlled the ball from the moment he touched it.
Toomer added two more catches in the second half, a nine yard catch in the second quarter along with a ten yard gain in the third quarter for a first down. Toomer made a catch on every ball thrown in his direction.
Carter touched the ball once, running an end-around in the first quarter after receiving the handoff from RB Tiki Barber. Carter showed his speed by turning the corner and gaining both 22 yards and picking up a first down.
Victor Cruz looks to have sealed his role in this offense as a
slot WR and he gets significant time on the outside too. Cruz deserves
all he is getting as he is stepping up for his team and getting
production and first downs for a team that was lacking a passing game
just a few weeks ago. Cruz was able to use his quickness to run around
a defender for a first down early in the game and showed great body
control to keep his feet in bounds on a deep play to the sideline. He
is clutch on third down situations and acted as a safety blanket for
Manning when facing the blitz. His only mistake was the famous fumble,
not ruled a fumble after a catch over the middle. Cruz and the
referees were claiming he gave himself up while almost everyone else
thought he had fumbled the ball. Regardless of the mental mistake,
look for more of the same from Cruz week in and week out.
Preston Parker made some nice catches for his team on Thursday and Eli Manning seems to be developing decent chemistry with the young receiver. Manning showed trust and confidence in Parker as he converted a third and long situation on a comeback route with Parker. Parker used his speed and route running to create a large gap of separation between him and the defender, which provided Manning with a big window to throw into. Parker also showed toughness as he took a big hit on a drag route over the middle of the field but managed to successfully retain possession of the ball. Parker also drew a pass interference penalty at the end of the first half using his speed to unsettle a defender, which help set up a field goal attempt. Parker also managed to get free from the secondary on a streak pattern in the endzone but Manning overthrew the receiver by a few yards. Parker played well when called upon but Cruz and Donnell are simply bigger threats and have far bigger roles in this offense which will make it tough for guys like Parker to produce consistently.
Reuben Randle registered only one catch on Sunday and was rarely targeted in the passing game by Eli Manning. Randle had one nice grab in tight coverage, taking a big hit as he held onto the football. Apart from this, the few passes that went his way fell incomplete. Randle had a few chances at some deep pass plays but the connection just couldn't be made. Randle almost hauled in a prayer pass from Manning in the first half as a pass was heaved in Randle's direction into double coverage to avoid pressure. Randle managed to get his hands on the football but the pass was broken up as he went to the ground. Randle had one big mistake however. Randle cut off his route short as there was mis-communication with Manning and the pass was picked off in a bizarre looking play. Manning tried to fit another long pass into Randle on the sideline but there was zero separation between Randle and the defender. Randle's production has not been high or consistent this year, mostly in part to the Giants inconsistencies on offense. He is a big play receiver that is also tough on short routes but he should be nowhere near fantasy line-ups unless the Giant passing unit improves dramatically going forward.
Shockey had ten passes thrown in his direction, but it never appeared that both he and QB Eli Manning were exactly on the same page. Shockey was open at times, yet the ball was not delivered in the right spot. On other occasions, Shockey was the intended receiver yet he was double covered or draped by a defender.
In the first quarter, Shockey dove for a pass in the end zone and had it tick off of his fingertips for an incompletion. For his other five targets, he was double covered twice, draped by DB Adam Archuleta once, and hardly in the area of the ball on his final two targets. Shockey may also have been the intended receiver on another instance in the fourth quarter. He was running across the back of the end zone when the ball fell a few yards in front of him, over the head of TE Visanthe Shiancoe. Shiancoe was given the target officially, but the ball was just as close to a wide open Shockey as it was to the inexperienced Shiancoe
Shiancoe was targeted on one ball in the end zone, but it was not 100% clear that QB Eli Manning was intending to throw to him. The ball was thrown to the left side of the end zone and fell between Shiancoe, who was at the goal line, and TE Jeremy Shockey, who was crossing near the back of the end zone. This lone target occurred in the final quarter of the game.
Larry Donnell had another huge performance for the Giants on Thursday and was a touchdown machine against the redskins. Donnell has a very big frame to work with and he routinely boxes out defenders when fighting for the football thanks to his size. Donnellís first touchdown catch came on a seam route from Manning. Manning threw the pass high and away from the defender perfectly, which allowed Donnell enough room to leap and snag the pass away from the defender. Donnell took a big hit as he caught a pass over the middle after play action but showed toughness and concentration to hang onto the pass regardless. Donnell was left completely open on the goal line for his second touchdown on a post route as the defender looked lost in coverage. Donnell used his free release to create big separation and Manning found the big tight end easily. Donnellís third touchdown came thanks to very savvy route running by the youngster. Donnell faked a move inside on the goal line before running a fade pattern and jumping high to catch another high ball from Manning. Donnell repeatedly used his frame to his advantage against smaller defenders and caught high passes from Manning all game long. The tight end has exceptional hands also and made difficult grabs look very routine while showing off an impressive catch radius.
Daniel Fells continues to catch a touchdown every week for the Giants but then proceeds to accomplish very little or nothing else throughout the rest of the game. Fells was able to get completely wide open on a play action fake on the goal line. The defense completely sold out to stop the run and the tight end was left alone in the corner of the endzone for the simple score. Larry Donnell was the true star of the show however. Fells is not nearly as young or as talented as Donnell and Manning threw a high number of his passes in Donnellís direction. Fells has shown again and again he has reliable hands when defenses ignore the tight end and the Giants have a lot of plays for the tight end in the redzone. Unfortunately he doesnít get enough targets apart from this and is therefore not startable as a consistent fantasy option.
Feely was perfect on the day, hitting all three of his field goal attempts and all five extra points. His field goals were a 38 yard kick in the first quarter, a 32 yard kick in the second, and finally a 23 yarder in the fourth.
The Rams abandoned the run game, so the defense really was not tested against the run. The Rams finished with 15 rushes for 42 yards and one touchdown (a one yard run), so New York was reasonably effective in stopping the few run plays that the Rams did attempt.
QB Marc Bulger set a record for the Rams in attempting 62 passes, but that was more of a result of the Rams falling behind and calling virtually all pass plays for most of the game. While the Giants allowed over 400 passing yards and recorded just one sack, they did keep the Rams from scoring when it counted. The defense allowed just one touchdown in the first half, and did not allow the second until late in the fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided. They finished strong, grabbing three interceptions in the fourth quarter.