Giants defense shines in London but questions still hover around uninspiring offense and Josh Brown

defense terrorized the Rams | 24 de octubre de 2016

LONDON - Landon Collins, Olivier Vernon and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were the Giants' Ministers of Defense on Sunday, Big Blue's official London ambassadors on a unit with four interceptions and an electric Collins touchdown return. The defense terrorized the Rams, and that was fortunate, because Eli Manning's offense looked jetlagged and ready for an early tea time in a 17-10 win in the NFL's first-ever game at sold-out Twickenham Stadium. "Everybody's got to do their part and raise their level of play if we want to be as good as we think we are," Manning said pointedly of the Giants' measly 232 total yards of offense. So it is that the Giants (4-3) head into their bye week with two straight wins but in an awkward middle ground of good feelings and bad omens: Their identity as a team with a dangerous offense and porous defense has been flipped on its head. There is no running game, not even a sign of a running game.Hovering over it all is the virtual scandal of this franchise continuing to employ confessed domestic abuser and kicker Josh Brown, who is still being paid by the organization as the NFL continues to investigate. While the players have off starting on Wednesday, this week won't feel anything like a bye week for the Giants organization until they clarify and rectify the Brown situation. John Mara and Roger Goodell could have addressed the matter as both were among the 72,000 capacity in attendance Sunday. They chose not to. At least there is an unquestionable, on-field bright spot: Steve Spagnuolo's defense has playmakers, talent and swagger, no question about it. Janoris Jenkins trash-talked his former Rams coaches and teammates all day, turned up his play in the second half, and scoffed at the idea that the Giants might have been tired playing due to the five-hour time difference. "We don't get tired, boss," Jenkins said with a confident lean as he hydrated.Collins, the second-year safety out of Alabama, made what could turn out to be the Giants' most impressive individual, single-play effort of the season: A 44-yard, switch-field interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter that jumpstarted the Giants to 17 unanswered points after a 10-0 deficit to start. "I guess I missed his high school highlight tape," corner Eli Apple laughed. "He's got some running back skills." Collins, a man possessed with eight tackles, the two picks and the score, said the defense is driving itself as a point of pride to be the reason the Giants win games coming off of last season's all-around poor showing."That was our biggest problem last year, and we wanted to showcase that," Collins said. "If you put us on the field, we're not going to lose the game for our team. That's the biggest key for us. We want to get off the field on third downs. We want to make game-changing plays and definitely get the ball back to the offense."Then there was Vernon, whom Jerry Reese made the NFL's highest-paid defensive end with a five-year, $85 million deal this offseason. Vernon played by far his best game as a Giant, with at least four difference-making quarterback pressures that resulted in sacks or punts, and a forced fumble. Vernon's uniform told the story: His white jersey and paints were filthy and grass-stained, not only from the slippery turf of Twickenham with some "loose grass," as Vernon said. The uniform also was one of those old-time football signatures of a player who had given his all and dominated. "Everybody was able to get to the quarterback," said Vernon, who appears to be healing his season-long wrist injury more each week. "I'm feeling much better. Just need a few more weeks (to get to full strength)." Rodgers-Cromartie then intercepted Case Keenum twice in the fourth quarter, handing the Rams (3-4) their third straight loss. Those are the good signs.Among the bad omens at the home of English rugby: The Giants offense scored one or fewer touchdowns for the fourth time in their seven games (none vs. Saints, one vs. Minnesota, Green Bay and L.A.). Eli Manning threw what should have been a crushing fourth-quarter interception that the Rams' Mark Barron dropped. Even the defense, on its dominant day, let the Rams pick up a 3rd-and-22 and a 4th-and-10 down the stretch to put the game in peril into the final minute. There were refreshing "Cruuuuz!" chants even in London. An injured Odell Beckham Jr. put the struggling offense on his back and bailed them out. The Giants improved to 2-0 in London, including their 13-10 win at Wembley Stadium in Oct. 2007 over the Miami Dolphins. But the Giants' on-field problems are persistent for the offense, and off the field, well, the organization is still getting it all wrong.
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