By Paul Dottino
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Too little, too late. But it’s progress.
Sure, the Giants (6-9) are out of the playoff picture; a seven-game midseason losing streak saw to that fate. However, they have responded with a three-game run that has put a spotlight on many of their younger players, who should be part of the right answers next season.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., RB Andre Williams (26-110 rushing), DE Kerry Wynn and RB Orleans Darkwa — among others — each contributed in a big way to the 37-27 road victory over the St. Louis Rams. It was the Giants’ second-highest scoring output of the season and the most points scored by any team against the Rams’ formidable defense this year. They hadn’t given up a TD in their previous three games.
The feisty battle also included a skirmish that resulted in three ejections after LB Alec Ogletree’s late second-quarter hit on Beckham. Ogletree was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Giants WR Preston Parker and DE Damontre Moore and Rams DE William Hayes were ejected.
Offense: WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle: We’ve got to go with a split here. Beckham (9-148 receiving with two TDs) was his usual spectacular self while breaking a couple of team records, and Randle (6-132-1 TD on six targets) had one of his best games as a pro on the heels of being disciplined twice over the last month for late arrivals to meetings.
Randle said he realized his focus needed to be better, and he showed just how effective he can be when he’s on track. As for Beckham, he set team rookie marks for catches (79) and TD receptions (11). He also improved his mark for receiving yardage to 1,120. His 80-yard score on a double-move post pattern — blowing by Mark Baron — made it 34-20 with 45 seconds left in the third and was the decisive blow in the victory. The receiving duo made it easy to overlook QB Eli Manning (25-for-32, 391 passing with 3 TDs), who had a passer rating of 148.8 — the highest he’s ever had in a full game — and the fifth-best yardage output of his career.
Defense: DE Kerry Wynn — The undrafted rookie free agent collected three solo tackles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Near the end of the first quarter, WR Tavon Austin tipped a flat pass into the air and Wynn snared it at the Giants’ 44. It resulted in a field goal and a 13-3 lead. Wynn added a third-down sack early in the fourth quarter as the Rams were trying to come back from a 24-20 hole. Wynn recovered a fumble inside the final two minutes to cap his day.
Special Teams: RB Orleans Darkwa and S Nat Berhe — This rookie combination made one of the most important plays of the game, and it came after the Giants had taken a 3-0 lead on the opening drive. Darkwa knocked the kickoff return free from returner Benny Cunningham and Berhe fell on it at the Rams’ 21. The Giants converted this turnover into a nine-yard Beckham TD catch and a 10-0 lead before the St. Louis offense had taken a snap.
Offense: LT Will Beatty — It’s actually a bit difficult to hand out this gasser because he limited star DE Robert Quinn to five assisted tackles and just one hit on the quarterback. However, Beatty was called for four holding penalties, each eliminating gains (combined for 33 yards and twp first downs).
Defense: LB Mark Herzlich — He allowed TE Lance Kendricks to beat his jam at the line and race up the left seam to grab a 23-yard scoring strike from Shaun Hill that brought the Rams within a touchdown with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
Special Teams: None — The only negative special-teams play of the day came on an eye-opening move. LB Daren Bates hurdled over the back of long snapper Zak DeOssie to block Josh Brown’s 29-yard field-goal attempt with 2:07 left in the game.
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