ST. LOUIS - Justin Tuck swatted Marc Bulger’s pass out of the air, plucked it from his shoulder pad, and then had time to take in the scenery en route to the end zone. His 41-yard interception return in the fourth quarter was one of several big plays by the New York Giants’ defense in another stifling effort.
“I looked at the Jumbotron and saw I had enough room to slow down,” Tuck said. “I don’t need to sprint into the end zone. I like to act like I’ve been there.”
The defense spent the entire afternoon in the Rams’ backfield, sacking Marc Bulger six times while limiting St. Louis to a fluke touchdown in a 41-13 victory on Sunday.
“Hopefully, this is the start of big things to come,” Tuck said. “Six today, but we had the opportunity to have more. You know, you’re never satisfied.”
Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes, sparking an offense that got one touchdown in the opener with a 97-yard drive in the third quarter. Much of the scoring was window dressing in the Giants’ 12th straight victory away from home, a run that includes their Super Bowl victory last February.
The Giants (2-0) have not lost a road game since their opener last season and set an NFL single-season record with 11 straight wins away from home in 2007.
The Rams (0-2) came up with another dud in their home opener, which also served as a tribute to late owner Georgia Frontiere, and are 3-for-24 on third-down conversions in their first two games.
“Our quarterback can’t be a pinata,” tight end Randy McMichael said. “We’ve got to give him time.”
Coach Scott Linehan fielded only one question in his postgame news conference, prefaced by a lengthy diatribe critical of his team’s shortcomings and pointing out the offense has yet to play a down inside the 20. He did note that, unlike in the opening 38-3 blowout loss at Philadelphia, the Rams were in the game until the last half of the fourth quarter.
“The bottom line is we can’t expect to win games playing the way we’re playing,” Linehan said. “We didn’t finish, and they did.”
Tuck added a pair of sacks and Fred Robbins also had two sacks for the Giants, who got to the quarterback only once in their opening 16-7 victory over the Redskins.
The Rams’ 3-13 season in 2007 repelled fans. The last two home games, against the Packers and Steelers, had nearly as many visiting fans. The Rams briefly won back a restless fan base when Torry Holt scored on a 45-yard pass while flat on his back on a ball twice deflected by safety Kenny Phillips.
But the Giants immediately answered with an 82-yard drive capped when Ahmad Bradshaw was untouched on a 16-yard swing pass that made it 27-13 with 7:18 to go. Tuck’s return came after he deflected Bulger’s pass, and Bradshaw added a 31-yard run to cap a 21-point fourth quarter.
Amani Toomer’s 10-yard grab was a big play when the game was tight, capping the 97-yard march midway through the third quarter that put the Giants ahead 20-6. That score came one play after coach Tom Coughlin successfully challenged a fumble ruling after a 16-yard catch by Plaxico Burress.
Manning was 20-for-29 for 260 yards, also hitting Burress on a 33-yard strike in the first quarter, Brandon Jacobs had 93 yards on 15 carries and 44-year-old kicker John Carney added field goals of 39 and 33 yards in the first half.
The Rams retooled their offense under new coordinator Al Saunders, but have only one touchdown in two games. Bulger was 20-for-32 for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Steven Jackson had 53 yards on 13 carries.
The bright spots were the St. Louis specialists. Josh Brown kicked a pair of 54-yard field goals, matching the longest by the franchise since 2001, and punter Donnie Jones averaged 57.6 yards.
There were thousands of no-shows in an announced sellout crowd of 61,377 on a day made rainy and windy by the remnant of Hurricane Ike.
Cardinals Hall of Fame SS Ozzie Smith, wearing a No. 1 Rams jersey, introduced the St. Louis defensive starters. … Holt had six catches for 76 yards after being held to one in the opener. … Jacobs had only one carry for 1 yard in the fourth quarter, costing him a shot at a second straight 100-yard rushing game. He has 209 yards and a 5.8-yard average.