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Collins, Giants strike early against stumbling Rams

New York builds a quick lead, then holds off a late rally by winless St. Louis.

©Associated Press
September 16, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Kerry Collins was almost flawless for the Giants, and the Rams are looking increasingly imperfect.

Collins built an early 17-point lead and the Giants defense made the big stops in a 26-21 victory over the defending NFC champions Sunday.

"I think we have higher expectations and desires than a lot of people think, or that we're capable of," coach Jim Fassel said. "Our guys weren't going to stop unless they were going to win."

"Everybody was writing us off before this game," said Collins, who completed 14 of his first 15 passes. "But we've got some good leaders in this locker room."

The error-prone Rams are 0-2 for the first time since going 4-12 in 1998, the year before Kurt Warner led them to their first Super Bowl title. The offense has produced 37 points in two games, and the Rams have trailed at the half in the past four.

"We keep tying our shoelaces in knots and stumbling over ourselves," running back Marshall Faulk said.

Jason Sehorn scored his fifth career touchdown on a 31-yard interception return, and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Giants. Bryant is 6-for-6 this season.

Faulk fueled the Rams' second-half comeback with a pair of touchdowns and finished with 87 yards on 14 carries. But he was stuffed on fourth and inches and fumbled. Michael Strahan recovered at the Rams 40 with 2:53 left.

The Rams got the ball back, but William Peterson sealed win when he intercepted an underthrown ball from Warner with 1:43 left. Warner was 26-for-39 for 266 yards and two interceptions, and a no-huddle offense the Rams used for the first time this season did not help.

"I made too many mistakes and I lost this game for this team," Warner said. "I didn't get it done."

Collins, who threw three interceptions in the Giants' opening loss to San Francisco, was 22-for-26 for 307 yards and kept his mistakes to a minimum against a defense that gave him a lot of time to pick his targets.

Adam Archuleta intercepted a tipped pass in the third quarter to give the Rams the ball at the Giants 37. St. Louis trailed 20-14, but Warner fumbled it two plays later at the New York 17.

St. Louis blew a few scoring opportunities: Jeff Wilkins was wide left on a 34-yard field-goal attempt early in the second, two plays after a false-start penalty negated a 20-yard TD pass to Faulk. A delay of game call effectively ended a drive late in the half.

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