EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Steve Spagnuolo and the St. Louis Rams came to the Meadowlands bearing gifts and the New York Giants readily accepted them.
Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes and linebacker Michael Boley scored on a 65-yard fumble return as New York beat the mistake-prone Rams 28-16 on Monday night in the first matchup between Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Spagnuolo, his former defensive coordinator.
“It seemed when they gave us a little opening, we jumped in there and got points and scored touchdowns and didn’t settle for field goals,” said Manning, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 200 yards with one interception.
This one was ugly with mistakes by the Rams (0-2) giving New York (1-1) a crucial win after a disappointing loss to Washington in the season opener.
“It’s a little bit of the same story as last week, we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Spagnuolo, who kept the media waiting 25 minutes after the game. “It’s difficult enough to beat any football team in this league without doing that, when you kind of beat yourself.”
All four of New York’s touchdowns resulted directly from St. Louis mistakes.
Manning hit Hakeem Nicks with a 3-yard TD pass after a muffed punt and Domenik Hixon made a spectacular juggling grab on a 22-yard score after a busted coverage late in the first half. Boley’s TD came on a botched lateral and New York’s final score was set up by a third-down pass interference call early in the second half.
Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass and Josh Brown kicked three short field goals for the Rams, who moved up and down the field, gaining 367 yards. The one area they could not move was in the red zone.
“The thing I liked about what we did tonight was we showed resiliency,” said Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck, who had 1 1/2 sacks in his first game after sitting out the opener with a neck injury.
“In a lot of those situations, if they get touchdowns, that score is a lot different.”
Bradford, who was 22 of 46 for 331 yards, might have made the biggest mistakes, throwing a pass backward and seeing Boley run it into the end zone.
The Rams hurt themselves in the red zone. They settled for the three short field goals after drives stalled inside the Giants 10, the first coming after they got a first-and-goal at the 1 following a 68-yard catch and run by Danario Alexander, who had three catches for 122 yards.
New York built a 21-6 halftime lead and was never threatened.
“It was a big momentum lift,” Boley said of his first career regular-season NFL touchdown.