Friday, September 30, 2005

Giants Look To Bounce Back Against Rams

After starting out 2-0, the Giants (2-1) got a reality check last Sunday night at San Diego, blown out 45-23. It was the most points they had allowed since a 45-7 defeat at New Orleans December 14, 2003. Ironically that was also a Sunday night game.

With much attention on how Eli Manning would perform against the team he refused to play for after being drafted, Big Blue's defense was atrocious. They allowed LaDainian Tomlinson to run wild for three touchdowns and 192 yards. Adding insult to injury, he even passed for a TD. Drew Brees also torched the secondary for two TDs, missing on just three of 22 passes.

Manning acquitted himself well, tossing for a career high 352 yards and two scores. It was the only silver lining on an otherwise embarrassing game.

The Giants return home Sunday to The Meadowlands for a match-up against the Rams (2-1) at 1 PM on Fox. Coach Tom Coughlin sees it as vital with a bye week coming up.

"It is a very important game," said Coughlin. "It would be a great opportunity for us, at home, to win, to finish the first phase of our season in good standing and to be excited and reinforced about the next phase. But because of the timing of this game, being the game prior to the bye and coming off a poor performance defensively last week, it is important."

The Rams come off a 31-27 triumph over Tennessee in Week Three. Marc Bulger was 21-of-28 for 292 yards and three TDs. Bulger's big target is All-Pro Torry Holt, who leads the NFL with 358 receiving yards and has two TDs.

On the ground, second-year back Steven Jackson leads them with 201 yards (4.1 average) while Marshall Faulk has only rushed 12 times for 77 yards. Though he isn't used as much, the former Pro Bowler shouldn't be taken lightly. He's rushed for over 12,000 yards in his career and scored 136 TDs- 100 rush, 36 receiving. Faulk needs 11 rushing yards to pass Thurman Thomas (12,074) for 11th all-time on the NFL career list and also trails Franco Harris by 56 for 10th.

Isaac Bruce (toe) is listed as doubtful for St. Louis. It shouldn't prevent Rams coach Mike Martz from testing the Giant secondary.

The Giants received bad news when Will Peterson reinjured his back, which could sideline him for the entire season if not his career. Peterson, who missed the final part of 2003 with the problem claimed that he played Sunday at San Diego after being advised that his condition would result in pain but nothing more serious. However, that wasn't the case.

"When I originally hurt it, it was a fracture that would just be painful," he said. "That's what I was told. But afterward, it was something that you could hurt more by playing. I'm figuring I hurt it more by playing that part of the game."

With Peterson out, rookie Corey Webster could replace him after missing last week with a quad injury. Meanwhile, linebacker Carlos Emmons (knee) is doubtful.

Regardless, the D needs to bounce back. Michael Strahan (2.5 sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (2 sacks) will try to pressure Bulger while Big Blue needs solid games from Will Allen (19 tackles) and Gibril Wilson (20 tackles, interception).

The NFL's highest scoring offense (92 PF) looks to take advantage of a poor Rams secondary that's given up 242.7 yards through the air. Manning along with leading receiver Plaxico Burress (15 catches for 192 yards, 2 TDs) and tight end Jeremey Shockey (13 receptions for 194 yards, TD) will try to expose this weakness. Shockey has 196 catches in 42 career games and with four Sunday, can become the second fastest tight end to reach 200.

Meanwhile, the Rams D has allowed only 67.7 rushing yards-per-game. All-Pro Tiki Barber (205 rushing yards, 2 TDs) should test it. The Giants offensive line needs to contain Leonard Little (3.5 sacks) and Giants must be aware of Adam Archuleta (18 tackles, 1 Int-TD, 1 sack).

Given the way both defenses struggled last week, they'll both have something to prove. But all bets are off with these two vaunted offenses. Expect a shootout.

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