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Giants vs. Rams: 5 plays that mattered in lopsided Giants’ loss

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The 2020 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants was a competitive 17-9 loss for the East Coast team. The 2021 game was the furthest thing from competitive, as the Giants fell to the Rams, 38-11. The game was so out of reach that Matt Stafford was removed with an entire quarter to play.

New York was embarrassed for the second straight week, and has been outscored 82-31 in that time frame. The injuries are a factor for this dejected team that seems to be abiding by Murphy’s law. Kadarius Toney left the game after the first drive, where he already had three catches for 36 yards.

Andrew Thomas, the most stable player by far on the Giants’ line, was hurt shortly after Toney, and then kick returner C.J. Board was injured as well. These three players joined a laundry list of Giants who are hurt. However, these injuries are an unlucky factor to a grander problem that is persistent with this 2021 Giants team - they aren’t good.

The Giants have invented ways to lose football games this season, have significantly regressed on defense, and have been embarrassed in three out of six games. The Giants have only played a quarter and a half of above-average football. This, of course, was in the latter portions of the Giants’ only win in New Orleans. That was only two weeks ago, but it might as well be an eternity.

New York had one of the worst quarters of the season against the Rams. They surrendered 28 points in Sunday’s second quarter as the Rams scored in a variety of ways: a blown assignment touchdown to Robert Woods, a rushing touchdown, a running back receiving touchdown, and a fourth-and-1 pass to Cooper Kupp.

The Giants’ defense came up with two sacks to end the first two Rams’ drives. They also forced a three-and-out after a Giants’ three-and-out, but the Giants offense followed that stand up with a two-play drive that ended in an interception.

Daniel Jones made rookie mistakes and wasn’t on the same page with the replacement receivers. Jones finished the game with 242 passing yards - mostly in garbage time - and he turned the football over four times. It wasn’t a great performance by the third-year quarterback.

Some of the excuses for Jones are fair; yes, he keeps losing the talent around him, and his offensive line is a mess. However, he’s certainly not faultless in this loss. The next couple of weeks will be crucial for the character of this Giants’ locker room.

They’re 1-5 with little hope, a lot of injuries, and one of the more embarrassing starts in recent memory - which says a lot because this Giants franchise has been abysmal for too long. Let’s check out the five plays that led to this 38-11 home loss to the Rams.

Play(s) 1: Old Jones

As stated earlier, Jones had a lot of things working against him in this matchup, but he still turned the football over four times. This season, Jones had been much more careful with the football, despite an offensive line filled with issues. His lone interception was at the end of the first half against New Orleans, and it was not indicative of an error.

Week 6 was a different story for Jones as he made bad decisions and was a bit reckless in certain situations. Jones can’t do much about this fumble; Matt Peart, who was playing in lieu of an injured Andrew Thomas, was less than desirable at left tackle. On this play, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (45) blew right past Peart, who struggles with set depth and commits his hips far too early, leading to plays like the one above.

Taylor Rapp (24) had two interceptions in this game, and he almost came down with a third. Here, Rapp undercut Evan Engram’s route. The Giants were attempting to hi-lo Rapp and get him to react to the underneath in route in the levels concept. The Rams were in zone, and Rapp read the eyes of Jones, baiting the interception.

Jones locks on to Dante Pettis (13) here, and Rapp undercuts the curl route. These are mistakes that Jones has generally cleaned up this season, but here he regresses. Rapp is playing curl/flat to the boundary, leaving little space for this football. A window hardly open, and Jones forces it, resulting in an easy interception.

Play 2: J.D. McKissic 2.0

The combination of double moves and Tae Crowder in man coverage is becoming a more significant liability as the season has progressed. Crowder was fooled by an out-and-up against J.D. McKissic in a Week 2 30-29 Thursday Night Football loss to the Football Team. For the sixth straight week, the Giants surrendered a touchdown to close the first half. With 2:14 left in the half, the Rams went six plays, 73 yards for a touchdown. Crowder is manned up on Henderson to the outside. The Rams running back runs a sluggo route - a slant and go. He fakes the slant before getting vertical. Crowder’s hips never get flipped to the inside, but he gets left in the dust by Henderson once the running back gets vertical. A great throw from Stafford with just enough touch allows the Rams to score their fourth touchdown of the quarter.

Play(s) 3: Kupp of despair

Cooper Kupp has been one of the more consistent and reliable wide receivers in the NFL. Kupp had nine catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants.

This first play isn’t a touchdown, but a huge play in a second-and-12 situation where the Rams had just taken two penalties. There are three Giants defenders in Kupp’s area on this deep seven route, but Matt Stafford connects. This play set up the Robert Woods touchdown.

New York’s defense stuffed Darrell Henderson (27) on third and short, but Sean McVay went for the touchdown on fourth-and-1. I love the play call by McVay; fake jet-motion rollout with Van Jefferson (12) releasing vertically to pick Kupp’s defender. This allows Kupp to run from his reduced split to the pylon with no defenders in the area.

Kupp scored late in the game here. New York’s dreams of winning this game were sealed, and the Giants lost Kupp coming from the opposite side of the formation on the play-action pass. This was the play that had many Giants fans questioning the effort of the defense. Kupp had several impactful contributions in this game; these are only three of them.

Play 4: Woods touchdown

This is an empty-set. The No. 3 receiver (Kupp) clears out for Robert Woods. Julian Love (20) doesn’t work over the top of Kupp, and James Bradberry (24) starts by taking an outside step, possibly anticipating an out route from Woods. This put Bradberry out of position, and no one accounted for Woods, with Reggie Ragland (55) shading the two-receiver side. Woods caught the ball and easily ran in for the touchdown.

Play 5: Tone setter

I get it; the Giants ended up regrouping on this drive and putting three on the board. However, everyone watching this game and reading this right now winced when this play happened - the first play of the game for the Giants. Both Billy Price (69) and Nate Solder (76) lose cleanly. Matt Skura (67) has to help Price, which leads to a miscommunication with Andrew Thomas (78) and allows Greg Gaines (91) to get a clean shot on Jones. The Giants had a lot of success in recent weeks working the play-action passing attack. They attempted to start this game with a bang, but the Rams defense imposed their force.