Giants defense leads the way in London with 17-10 win over Rams

LONDON — The Giants’ Ministers of Defense served as Big Blue’s official ambassadors in London on Sunday with four interceptions and a touchdown, fortunate given Eli Manning’s offense looked jetlagged and ready for an early tea time in a 17-10 win over the L.A. Rams in the first-ever game at sold-out Twickenham Stadium.

Strong safety Landon Collins intercepted Rams quarterback Case Keenum twice, scoring on an electric 44-yard, switched-field touchdown return in the first half and setting up a Rashad Jennings 1-yard TD run in the second half with the other on the way to the Giants’ second straight win in front of what looked to be a capacity 72,000-fan crowd.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off Keenum twice in the fourth, bailing out a Giants defense that almost broke despite its strong day. Ex-Ram Janoris Jenkins yapped with Rams coaches after breaking up passes in a strong performance after a deep ball completed his way early.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon, whom Jerry Reese made the NFL’s highest-paid defensive end with a five-year, $85-million deal this offseason, played by far his best game as a Giant. Vernon, who has played through a painful wrist injury most of the season, had at least four difference-making quarterback pressures punts.

The Giants (4-3), who now head into their bye week, improved to 2-0 in London including their rainy, sloppy 13-10 win over the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 28, 2007 at Wembley Stadium in front of 81,176 fans.

Sunday at Twickenham, the home of English rugby, the Giants scored 17 unanswered points after falling behind 10-0 early. But no thanks to their offense, which scored one or fewer touchdowns for the fourth time in their seven games (none vs. Saints, one vs. Minnesota, Green Bay and L.A.).

Rashad Jennings rushed for a touchdown in the Giants win.

Rashad Jennings rushed for a touchdown in the Giants win.

(Matt Dunham/AP)

Up 17-10 after Jennings’ TD at 9:27 of the fourth, the Giants defense did bend severely, including surrendering a 3rd-and-22 from the Rams’ 10-yard line to Kenny Britt and several scary completions to Tavon Austin. But Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Keenum in the end zone with four minutes to play.

The offense, which was mostly atrocious, went three-and-out to give the Rams life. Keenum picked up a key fourth down-and-10 from the Rams’ own 36-yard line into the two-minute warning. The Rams drove, but Rodgers-Cromartie picked off another Keenum floater pass to end it.

Ben McAdoo’s team still heads into its Week 8 bye week off two straight wins. The Rams (3-4) lost their third straight in this 2:31 p.m. local time kickoff. And yet, the Giants offense incredibly gained just 232 net yards, adding to other duds this season:

Three turnovers in a Week 3 loss to Washington, 10 points and one offensive touchdown against Minnesota, and 221 total net yards, one TD and 16 points against Green Bay.

Even after Collins’ second interception in the fourth quarter off a tip by Keenan Robinson, Manning came back and threw a gift interception into the middle of the field that the Rams’ Mark Barron somehow dropped.

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Eli Manning threw for 196 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

(Paul Childs/REUTERS)

Manning and Odell Beckham then made the most of their second chance by connecting on a 22-yard deep jump ball into double coverage to set up Jennings’ TD run behind the blocking of Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh.

The Giants scored 10 unanswered points in the second quarter to go into halftime tied at 10 apiece. The offense mounted its first significant drive of the game to start the quarter, going 71 yards in 14 plays and 6:38 for a 29-yard Robbie Gould field goal.

Odell Beckham wasn’t on the field for first or second down, perhaps on a pitch count due to a hip pointer that had him change his warmup and talk to McAdoo and trainers during pregame. But Beckham had two completions and Victor Cruz had three, including the 25-yard gain on a nice move to elude E.J. Gaines off a slant route to get the Giants into field goal range.

Then on the Rams’ very next possession, Collins made an electric 44-yard interception return for a touchdown to tie the game, after a Case Keenum pass behind Tavon Austin tipped into the air.

Right tackle Bobby Hart somehow committed unsportsmanlike conduct by leaving the sideline on the TD celebration, giving the Rams 12 extra yards of field position. But Vernon made his second QB pressure to force a punt.

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Case Keenum threw four interceptions in the Rams loss.

(Matthew Childs/REUTERS)

The Giants offense generated a big-gain Rashad Jennings screen and nothing else before punting. Roger Lewis Jr. forced an Austin fumble on the ensuing punt, but the Rams defense recovered. The Giants defense did its job and gave Manning one last possession, but the Giants went three-and-out.

Vernon forced a Keenum fumble that led to an incompletion and a near Eli Apple interception. The Rams then punted, and Giants return man Dwayne Harris was injured on the return, carted off the field.

The Giants trailed, 10-0, at the end of a horrible first quarter in which the Rams outgained them 122-26 in yards and 7-1 on first downs.

The Giants fumbled on their first offensive drive for the second straight week. The only difference was that McAdoo uncharacteristically had elected to receive to open Sunday’s game after winning the coin toss.

In Week 6, it was Beckham fumbling on the first offensive play against the Ravens. On Sunday, tight end Larry Donnell fumbled on the offense’s second play, giving the Rams the ball at the Giants’ 35-yard line.

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Odell Beckham had 5 receptions that totaled 49 yards.

(Paul Childs/REUTERS)

Jason Pierre-Paul then failed to snag an interception with his damaged right hand off a tipped Case Keenum pass by Jonathan Casillas, and Keenum hit Tavon Austin for a 10-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Rams lead with 11:15 to play in the first quarter.

The Giants punted after a second short series that included a Victor Cruz drop and Eli Manning bailing out with an incompletion off his back foot against a Rams blitz. Landon Collins knocked down the Rams’ Chase Reynolds at the end of the punt coverage, the first sign of chippy play from either side. Groups from both teams had to be separated.

The Rams tacked on a Greg Zuerlein 36-yard field goal on their next drive for a 10-0 lead, set up by a 48-yard Keenum pass to Brian Quick beating Janoris Jenkins up the right sideline. A split-sack of Keenan by Pierre-Paul and Kerry Wynn forced the Rams to settle for three.

The Giants punted on their third drive, as well, going three and out, hurt by a bad Roger Lewis Jr. missed block that let the Rams plow Odell Beckham to the turf on his first reception of the game, a sweep left out of the backfield.

Rookie corner Eli Apple then committed pass interference on Quick to extend a Rams drive on 3rd-and-8, but Vernon forced the Rams short of the first-down marker on third down with the first of several impactful pressures, leading to a punt and the Giants’ first scoring drive.

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nfl
new york giants
los angeles rams

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