Giants' ground game a work in progress

The Giants are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry -- 25th out of 32 NFL teams -- through the first two games of the 2011 season, a far cry from where they want to be.

But one thing is certain, they’re going to continue to run the ball. After all, it’s part of their DNA, their identity. Whether or not they’re successful doing so, however, is a whole different story.

“We ran it (38) times,” Tom Coughlin said after the Giants got their first victory of the season on Monday night, beating the Rams 28-16 at MetLife Stadium. “We didn’t have a lot of numbers for it, but we did run the ball (38) times, which is what we attempted to do.”

That much became clear during New York’s opening drive, when Ahmad Bradshaw ran three cutback plays for 27 yards. But after Bradshaw’s 15-yard jaunt off left tackle, the Giants’ longest run of the game, Eli Manning was picked off.

Just like that the drive had come to an abrupt halt. And with it, went the success of the Giants ground attack. New York wound up running it 35 more times, but gained a mere 92 yards the rest of the way, as St. Louis employed several eight-man fronts to slow them down.

Brandon Jacobs, who carried the ball 16 times for 50 yards, scored a nine-yard touchdown with 6:19 left in the third quarter to cap off the Giants scoring for the evening.

“It was the first time this season I got a chance to get in there, the first of many,” Jacobs, who moved into sole possession of second place on the franchise’s all-time rushing touchdown list (50).. “It felt great. We did a good job of scoring when we got down there.”

But after the game, Jacobs seemed more eager to discuss his failure on fourth-and-1 with 2:13 remaining in the fourth.

“I just made the wrong reads and stuff like that,” Jacobs said. “I was just falling asleep out there, and that’s not what I’m supposed to do as a professional.”

Jacobs seemed as though he wanted to deliver that message to his teammates as well -- especially with Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles looming next Sunday.

“We have to play a whole hell of a lot better to be able to compete with the elite teams in this league,” Jacobs said. “I feel like we can play so much better than what we showed today. I’m going to be real hard on this football team because we all expect the best out of each other and this what we look forward to giving each other every week.”

The Giants certainly put forth a better effort on the ground against the Rams than they did last week against the Redskins, when they amassed just 75 yards on 20 carries and twice failed to convert in short yardages situations. But clearly, there’s work to be done.

“We could have knelt down a lot earlier, but we couldn’t make the yard-and-a-half,” Coughlin said of Jacobs’ run stuff. “That continues to be an issue for us.”

Said Bradshaw, who finished with 15 carries for 59 yards and five catches for 45 yards:

“Yeah, we definitely got in a rhythm. Like I said, it goes with the game and how the games comes and how we progress. We did alright. I think it worked out.”