Rams cornerbacks get kudos despite loss

The New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., right, tries to shake off a tackle by the Rams' Troy Hill during the NFL International Series match Sunday in London.
(Warren Little / Getty Images)

Rams cornerbacks went into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants on the defensive.

Throughout the week, all they heard about was Odell Beckham Jr. and a Giants receiving corps that includes wily veteran Victor Cruz and impressive rookie Sterling Shepard.

How would they cope, especially with franchise cornerback Trumaine Johnson sidelined for a second consecutive game because of an ankle injury?


“We challenged ourselves,” cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said.

Joyner, who plays in the slot, and outside cornerbacks E.J. Gaines and Troy Hill prevented explosive plays and mostly kept the Giants’ trio in check during the Rams’ 17-10 defeat at Twickenham Stadium.

Beckham, who caught eight passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns last week against Baltimore, had only five receptions for 49 yards, none longer than 22 yards.

Cruz had five catches for 55 yards, Shepard five for 32.

None scored touchdowns.

“They’re definitely hard to contain,” Gaines said. “I thought we did that.”

Said middle linebacker Alec Ogletree: “They stepped up big time.”

Joyner forced Giants tight end Larry Donnell to fumble after a catch during the first series and Gaines recovered the ball. The Rams converted the miscue into a touchdown.

On consecutive plays in the first quarter, Hill wrapped up Beckham for a six-yard loss and Gaines broke up an Eli Manning pass intended for Cruz.

The secondary got help from a defensive line fortified by end Robert Quinn’s return from a shoulder injury.

“They were taking away a couple of our receivers,” said Manning, who completed 24 of 37 passes for 196 yards. ““We got a few things, but we didn’t get an opportunity to throw the ball down the field much.”

The Giants receivers did make some clutch plays.

Beckham and Manning connected for 18 yards in the third quarter on a play that got the Giants out from being pinned inside the five. Beckham also outjumped defenders on a third-down catch for the 22-yard gain that set up the go-ahead touchdown.

Cruz had a 25-yard reception in the second quarter, which set up a touchdown.

“They definitely get paid, too,” Gaines said. “But those were critical plays we need to stop got to get off the field.”

Hill agreed.

“I would like to have a couple of those plays back,” he said.

The Rams have a bye this week, giving Johnson two weeks to heal before the Rams play the Carolina Panthers.

Hill said there would be plenty to work on as a team and individually during the interim.

“We need to finish,” he said, “and get our hands on a few more balls.”