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The Giants figured out a pretty good strategy to avoid going 0-2 on Monday night.
Instead of making killer mistakes, they let the Rams shoot themselves in the foot at every turn and took advantage of the blunders for a 28-16 win. Many of the issues that bedeviled them against the Redskins in Week One remain, but it is far better to be dealing with them coming off of a victory than off a second straight loss.
The Giants scored four touchdowns, three of which came with the help of penalties by the Rams defense and the fourth came on a Michael Boley recovery of a backward pass from Sam Bradford. The Rams weren't much better when they had the ball as they would consistently move into the Giants red zone and then fail to execute well enough to come away with touchdowns.
Offensively, the Giants still look like a team that met a few minutes before the game. That needs to change and it needs to change fast if they want to turn Monday's win into some positive momentum.
The Giants' defense deserves some credit for those failures, to be sure, but it is hard to get too excited about an effort that resulted in 367 yards for the St. Louis offense. That total would have been even higher if the Rams didn't drop several passes over the course of the evening.
And, as if all that wasn't enough to worry about, the Giants also lost two receivers -- Domenik Hixon, who had one of the better catches you'll ever see for a touchdown just before the half, and Mario Manningham -- to injury during the game.
In short, the Giants didn't fix all of their problems simply by ending up with a victory.
All of that sounds overly negative and that isn't quite fair to the Giants. They did a much better job this week than they did against the Redskins.
The return of Justin Tuck resulted in two key sacks in the second half and the defense was stout against the run for the second straight week.
The running game, an afterthought last week, was effective both as a way of possessing and moving the ball against the Rams defense. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 109 yards on 31 carries and Jacobs scored a touchdown that put the Giants up 19 points in the third quarter.
Those numbers don't blow you away, but it shows that the Giants understand the need to run the ball. The offense still needs to find out who they are, but tonight was a sign that they understand the way forward.
Eli Manning threw a brutal pick in the first half, but finished the game by completing 16-of-18 passes after completing just two of his first 11 passes. He was sacked three times, a sign that there's still plenty of work to do on the offensive line but none of them wound up costing the Giants all that much.
They also figured out a way to extend drives on third down, whether through their own machinations or with the help of the aforementioned penalties on the Rams defense. After converting just one third down play in Washington, the Giants made it five times on Monday night.
Baby steps, but positive steps and that was crucial for a Giants team that would have been in a world of trouble if they didn't find a way to win this game. Now they go into next week's game with the possibly Michael Vick-less Eagles without the weight of the world on their shoulders and they have a chance to put themselves right back into the race for a playoff spot with a victory.
That was where they needed to be when Monday night came to a close and they got there. The win was what mattered and the Giants got it.