Foreign concept, same result
Giants streak on vs. winless Miami
WEMBLEY, England - For art, they could have gone to the British Museum. For something grand, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace were a train ride away.
Instead, what the fans got on a history-making afternoon in London was old-fashioned, muck-it-up football - not very entertaining and not pretty at all, unless you ask the New York Giants, who came out with a 13-10 victory over the still-winless Miami Dolphins yesterday.
"We won, so obviously it was worth it," said Giants defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora, who was born in London.
Eli Manning threw for only 59 yards but ran for New York's lone touchdown to lift the Giants to their sixth straight victory, a mud-caked slog through the unfriendly pitch at torn-up Wembley Stadium in this, the first regular-season NFL game played outside North America.
The Giants (6-2) had more riding on this game, and were in no mood to take a 3,500-mile trip to help the league expand its international presence. But Brandon Jacobs helped make the journey a success, running for 131 yards, the second straight week he's hit a career high.
And helped in part by a steady rain that made offense nearly impossible, the New York defense allowed only 254 yards and held the Dolphins (0-8) out of the end zone for the first 58 minutes.
"I'll be glad to give my opinion to the commissioner with the issues that came up," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said when asked if the trip was worth it.
Most issues had to do with jet lag, transportation, and the general inconvenience of coming this far to play a game. Whether that or the sloppy conditions had more to do with the less-than-scintillating game is up for debate.
But there were brief moments of intrigue, especially when Cleo Lemon drove the Dolphins 80 yards to pull them within 13-10 on a 21-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. with 1:54 left. But Jay Feely's onside kick went out of bounds - "The field was like ice," Feely said - and the Giants kneeled on it three times to seal the game, ignoring the loud boos from a crowd of 81,176 that wanted more.
Coughlin said that was the only off-note he noticed from the enthusiastic crowd.
"You'd have to know a lot about football to understand that," he said.
One thing that didn't need clarification - that ugly record the Dolphins now take into their bye week.
"We're going to keep our eyes up, our heads high," Dolphins coach Cam Cameron said. "This group's got a lot of football left this season."
The idea behind this game was to offer Londoners a firsthand look at the real thing after they'd suffered through decades of meaningless exhibition games and NFL Europa. And while the mud made for good television, this was hardly a clinic of American football at its best.
The teams combined for a grand total of 492 yards, only 187 passing. They combined for seven fumbles, two missed field goals, and 14 penalties. Trailing, 13-0, Miami had a chance to creep back into the game in the third quarter when Matt Roth dislodged the ball from Manning on a blindside sack and Jason Taylor fought through a rugby scrum to come up with the recovery at the Miami 49.
Two plays later, Jesse Chatman reversed field for a 22-yard gain - the longest play of the game - and a moment later, the Dolphins had second and goal from the 2. But Lemon bobbled the ensuing snap, got tackled for a 9-yard loss, and Miami settled for a field goal.
Earlier, Lemon put himself on the blooper reel when he reared back to pass, but lost the ball on the windup. That lost fumble led to New York's second field goal and a 13-0 lead before halftime.
Manning is the answer to the trivia question: Who scored the first regular-season NFL touchdown in Europe? He rambled to the corner for a 10-yard score to make it 10-0 in the second.