Secondary is struggling
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Rams' locker room at the Edward Jones Dome was nearly deserted when safety Oshiomogho Atogwe ambled slowly from the shower and plopped onto a stool in front of his stall. A reporter approached, but Atogwe was in no mood for discussion.
"I don't have anything for you, sir," he said quietly. "I apologize."
The secondary, shredded for 414 passing yards in the season-opening battering at Philadelphia, was pummeled again Sunday. Giants quarterback Eli Manning connected on 20 of 29 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception, as New York steamrolled the Rams 41-13.
Unlike last week, when the Rams failed to sack Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Manning was dropped twice and pressured several other times. Still, he found his wide receivers 16 times for 227 yards, including four strikes for 25 yards or more.
Plaxico Burress, who picked up 81 yards on five receptions, put the Giants up 7-0 on their second series when he burned Atogwe for a 33-yard score. Burress started up the middle, then veered toward the sideline. When Atogwe bit on that move, Burress cut back up the middle and was wide open when the ball arrived.
The Giants' lead was still seven points midway through the fourth quarter, when New York turned a 20-13 edge into a rout.
Second-half drives of 97 and 82 yards helped the Giants maintain control. The first march ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to wideout Amani Toomer, and the second finished with a short toss that running back Ahmad Bradshaw turned into an 18-yard TD.
"It's frustrating," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "We went into halftime, close game, and ... for the game to end the way it did, it's very disappointing."
Cornerback Tye Hill insisted that the defensive backs weren't the only culprits, as the scoring average by Rams opponents climbed to 39 1/2.
"The secondary's fine," Hill said. "We're better than what we're playing."
But far from good enough, Bartell conceded. "Same result," he said. "Somehow, some way, we've got to fix whatever is going wrong and get it turned