Giants' defense hits lowest point in 51-17 loss to Rams
By ERNIE PALLADINO, Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants’ defense has hit rock bottom, at least for now.
It allowed four passes of 35 yards or more, two runs in excess of 20 yards, and 473 yards of total offense in an awful 51-17 loss to the surprising Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
The loss was their worst at home since a 52-21 setback to Cleveland ended the 1964 season, in which they went 2-10-2.
“When you tackle the way we tackled today, and we had a blocked punt, unfortunately that’s what the scoreboard is going to look like,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said of his 1-7 squad.
The defense, playing without cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who McAdoo suspended Tuesday after he failed to report back from last week’s bye on time, looked almost nonexistent at times. Jared Goff threw for career bests of four touchdowns and 311 yards in torching a defense that also was without end Olivier Vernon, linebackers Jonathan Casillas and B.J. Goodson.
The defense never came close to intercepting him, and looked disorganized and confused at times against the surprising Rams (6-2).
Nothing better illustrated that than the Rams’ second touchdown that put them up 17-7 in the second quarter. Faced with a third-and-33 after penalties for offensive pass interference on wide receiver Cooper Kupp and an illegal chop block on guard Rodger Saffold, Goff completed a screen pass to Robert Woods.
The wide receiver took one cut upfield and left cornerback Eli Apple and safety Landon Collins standing in their tracks as he flew 52 yards for a touchdown.
The Giants never recovered.
“Everybody just overran it,” Collins said. “That was the biggest thing. We didn’t secure the inside. He saw it opened up, and he just hit it.”
McAdoo said it was unforgivable.
“That was a quick screen to the slot receiver,” he said. “You can’t let him run for a touchdown in that situation. We have to address it. We have to get it fixed.”
A defense that had not given up more than 27 points this year looked porous throughout the game. Todd Gurley’s 36-yard run on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage following a strip-sack and recovery off Eli Manning put the Rams at the Giants 16. It led to Goff’s 8-yard scoring throw to wide-open tight end Tyler Higbee.
A 44-yard completion to another tight end, Gerald Everett, put them at the Giants 8 and led to Greg Zuerlein’s 27-yard field goal that put the Rams up 10-7.
On the series after the third-and-33 embarrassment, Goff found former Bills wideout Sammy Watkins behind a well-beaten secondary and hit him for a 67-yard touchdown. It was 24-7 with 7:18 left in the half.
A 35-yard completion to Kupp and Tavon Austin’s 21-yard run set up Gurley for his 1-yard run on the first series of the third quarter. And a 44-yard completion to Gurley on the next series got the ball to the Giants 1 and eventually produced Goff’s 4-yard throw to an uncovered Woods in the middle of the end zone for a 41-10 lead.
“Guys are still trying to get used to each other,” Collins said. “It’s hard. Definitely hard. Nobody likes to give up 50.”
A blocked punt by Cory Littleton at the Giants 18 produced Gurley’s second touchdown and a 48-10 lead.
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley could not remember a defensive no-show like the one Sunday.
“This is my fourth year and as far as defense, I don’t think so,” Bromley said. “(The media) might know, but I don’t. We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board.”
As ugly as it looked, McAdoo and his players fell well short of saying the team quit outright.
Yet it was still hard for them to accept that, even in a season spiraling out of control, a unit that helped create an 11-5 record a year ago could look that bad.
“To lose like this, you just want to get to the next game. Burn the film and go to the next game,” Bromley said.