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Landon Collins builds case as one of NFL’s best safeties

Pair of interceptions lead to 14 of Giants’ 17 points vs. Rams

NFL: International Series: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants (4-3) defeated the Los Angeles Rams (3-4) 17-10 at Twickenham Stadium in England, Sunday, and they did it on the strength of their defense. That defense was powered by sophomore safety Landon Collins.

Next to CB Janoris Jenkins, Collins has made a case as the Giants’ best defender in 2016. It’s a far cry from the narrative that had developed around him to start the season as a liability in open-field coverage.

While he’s still no cover-first safety, Collins has been a consistent play-making force for Big Blue. He was at it again Sunday against the Rams.

The Giants’ offense, which broke out against the Baltimore Ravens a week ago, was back to frustratingly inconsistent form. They were outgained 345 yards to 232, and lost the time-of-possession battle big (again), 35 minutes to 25.

Collins’ made eight tackles and picked off two Case Keenum passes, his first two interceptions of the season. He brought the first one back 44 yards for a TD, practically willing himself to the end-zone, to even the game at 10 before halftime.

His second INT of the day set the Giants up deep in LA territory, and led to Rashad Jennings’ game-winning 1-yard TD. Ultimately, Collins was the deciding factor in another sloppy contest in London. He had a hand in both Giants TDs.

Collins broke down his TD return after the game, “When I caught the ball, I switched back to running back ... high school days, you know? So got the sideline, and when I looked up the field, I saw a lot of Blue (Rams) so I glanced to my left and saw all my white guys (Giants) over there and said maybe I’ll go to the left ... so I cut back over there and my guys laid me through to the touchdown.”

‘His guys’ did an excellent job lining his path, but the return was a spectacular individual play by Collins, an early candidate for 2016’s best.

Through seven games, Collins has recorded 58 tackles, the two picks and the TD. He’s boosted his rep as one of the league’s biggest hitters, closing hard and fast on receivers and limiting yards after catch. And how about this: he also leads the Giants in sacks.

Heading into the bye, the Giants have to feel good about where they are. Big Blue is over .500, only two games behind the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys (5-1) in the loss column. When the Giants return to action against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9, they could have safeties Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe back, too.

Whether or not that is the case, Big Blue has to be thrilled with Collins’ presence and production. He’s emerged as one of the NFC’s best safeties and he’s improved throughout the season.