NFL Preview - NY Giants (5-9) at St. Louis (6-8) (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Where was the pass rush from Jason Pierre-Paul earlier this season? The New York Giants defensive end looks to wreak more havoc on the St. Louis Rams Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
Pierre-Paul recorded only 1 1/5 sacks in his first six games and 3 1/2 over 11 games from Sept. 8 - Nov. 23. JPP posted 2 1/2 sacks in Sunday's 24-13 win over the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium and has six in the past three games.
"I think we have some people that are playing very well," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said today. "JPP is playing very well. Technically, early on, he was doing some things that we could correct and help with and he has really adapted his game again to the way and manner in which we would like him to rush."
Pierre-Paul is now the veteran of the bunch and arguably the most talented across the defensive line. He had 2 1/2 of New York's seven sacks on the afternoon, while DT Johnathan Hankins posted 2 1/2 as well. JPP leads the team with 9 1/2 on the season and rookie linebacker Devon Kennard has 4 1/2 sacks over the previous three games.
The Giants have sacked opposing quarterbacks at least seven times in each of the last three games (22 total). They have 41 total this season.
New York has won two straight following a seven-game losing streak and are averaging 28 points per game in the last four. It is 3-7 against NFC foes this season and 2-5 as the visiting team.
St. Louis is coming off Thursday's 12-6 setback versus the NFC West-rival Arizona Cardinals last Thursday, as the offense stalled with a pair of Greg Zuerlein field goals.
Rams quarterback Shaun Hill passed for 229 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, while running back Tre Mason added 33 yards on 13 carries. Wide receiver Stedman Bailey posted a team-best 74 yards on five receptions.
"It's hard to win football games when you don't score touchdowns," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. "The difference in this game was our inability to get the ball in the end zone."
The Rams had won two straight and three of four games.
"We've got to keep battling in this game," Rams tight end Jared Cook said. "The season's not over. We've still got two games left. You've got to keep scratching and clawing your way to the top."
St. Louis leads the series with New York, 25-14, and the teams have split two playoff matchups. The Giants have won the last five meetings with the Rams and recorded a 28-16 triumph in the last matchup on Sept. 19, 2011. Eli Manning threw for 223 yards with a pair of TD strikes and one interception.
Coughlin is 3-1 in his career against the Rams, with the lone loss coming in 1996 while the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has taken off the past few weeks, especially the previous two games. He had 11 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown at Tennessee on Dec. 7, then caught 12 passes for 143 yards and three scores on Sunday.
Beckham's speed and excellent hand coordination has him as one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year.
"Nothing this guy does amazes me at this point," Giants safety Antrel Rolle said of Beckham. "He's a phenomenal talent and more importantly, I think he has the attitude and passion that this game deserves and that this team needs. He tries to go out there and be the best of the best each and every time on the field."
Beckham has six touchdown catches in his last four games and five 100-yard efforts in the past seven. Beckham has recorded no less than 90 yards receiving since early November and his 12 catches Sunday were a rookie record for the Giants.
Beckham's 12 receptions tied the highest total by a wide receiver in franchise history and it was the sixth time a Giants player caught at least 12 passes in a game. Hakeem Nicks was the last to accomplish the feat, registering 12 receptions at Houston on Oct. 10, 2010. His 972 yards this season are a new Giants rookie record. The old record of 894 was set by Jeremy Shockey in 2002.
The LSU product's nine touchdowns this season are the highest total by a Giants rookie since Bill Swiacki set the record with 10 in 1948.
"The young man is having outstanding success. When we are getting the ball to him, he's doing very well with it," Coughlin said. "He's a very good football player. He has the ability to go the distance, I think, any time he gets it ... whether as a punt returner or as an offensive player. He can run the football; he can throw the football, so we've tried to create a lot of situations. He does have the talent to exploit the defense in a lot of different ways."
The Rams are allowing 249.7 receiving yards a game this season.
St. Louis has five players with two or more interceptions and cornerback Trumaine Johnson leads the team with three in seven games. Alec Ogletree, E.J. Gaines, Rodney McLeod and Janoris Jenkins each have two INTs.
Manning is good for one or two interceptions a game, but protected the ball Sunday versus Washington. In his last six games, Manning has thrown eight picks to 10 TD strikes. He won his 90th regular-season game as New York's starting QB, five behind Phil Simms (95).
Manning, who passed for 250 yards with three TDs and no INTs, recorded a rating of 118.5, the second-highest of the season.
"We are preparing ourselves today for a very good (St. Louis) Rams team that is very physical," Coughlin said. "They have done a lot of very good things. They have done good things at home and we are going there to play at their place."
Manning is facing a Rams defense that has posted 36 sacks, including 10 1/2 by Robert Quinn. Quinn has 4 1/2 sacks in his last three games and has posted at least 10 in each of the previous three seasons.
The Giants would enjoy nothing more than to end the season on a high note and perhaps save the job of Coughlin. After visiting the Rams, the Giants will close the season at home versus Philadelphia, which is still eyeing the postseason.
Before trying to spoil the Eagles' season, New York has to get through a stingy St. Louis defense and Manning must keep the football out of harm's way. The Rams scored only six points versus a tough Arizona squad and will at least triple that number Sunday.
It won't be enough, however, to stop Beckham and his remarkable season.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Giants 24, Rams 20