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Falling Giants cause Rams' offense to flop

Deon Grant may have made the best defensive play of the night for the Giants in their 28-16 win against the Rams on Monday. It wasn't a tackle or an interception or a forced fumble. It was -- or at least it certainly appeared to be -- a flop.

St. Louis was driving deep into Giants territory with a hurry-up offense that had the Giants dizzy, particularly in the secondary, and after an 8-yard run by Cadillac Williams set up a second-and-2 from the 7, Grant was walking back to the line of scrimmage when he suddenly fell to the turf and grabbed his knee.

Eventually he got to his feet, jogged off, and was back in the game a play later. The Giants ultimately slowed down the Rams' offense, got their heads on straight, and held for a field goal instead of a touchdown. The play sparked debate around the league Tuesday: Was that a case of veteran savvy or manipulating the rules? Or both?

The NFL will not discipline the Giants or Grant unless they admit that the safety was faking his injury. On Tuesday, there seemed little chance of that happening as Tom Coughlin maintained that he thought Grant was suffering from a cramp and Antrel Rolle, in a radio interview, said that Grant did complain after the game about a knee injury.

"I don't know if it was on that particular play or not," Rolle said.

Grant and rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams both hit the turf at about the same time, several seconds after the play had ended while walking back to the line of scrimmage. Williams bounced back up and remained on the field.

"This is the NFL," Rolle said. "No one is dumb in this league. In my eyes as a veteran it was an extremely smart play on their behalf if they were in fact faking."

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Teams' depth tested

To win in the NFL, it takes more than great players. Teams must have quality backups, too, or at least serviceable ones.

Only two weeks into the season, many teams already have been forced to tap into their depth in serious ways. They've had to replace high-profile players, multiple starters and, in some cases, several players at the same position.

The results: the Colts, Chiefs and Rams are 0-2, while the Broncos, Giants, Cowboys, Raiders and Eagles are 1-1.

"You have to hope you have enough talent, but it's tough," said NFL Network analyst Jim Mora, a former coach in Atlanta and Seattle. "There's a reason one guy makes $10 million and another guy makes the minimum. There's a difference in ability."

Plugging holes is tougher still this season because of the lockout. But even teams that seemed to have planned well for the short free-agent period aren't immune. Philadelphia signed Vince Young to back up Michael Vick, only to see both of them go down, forcing a third-stringer, Mike Kafka, into action.

No amount of planning would have prepared the Colts and Chiefs for what they're facing without Peyton Manning, who had never missed a start. Most observers are surprised at how drastic the fallout from his injury has been.

In Kansas City, running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki tore ligaments in their left knees in successive weeks. Two linebackers and a tackle also are out for the season.

The Chiefs look nothing like the reigning AFC West champs: They have allowed the most points (by far) and scored the fewest.

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Record TDs scored

NEW YORK -- NFL fans are seeing plenty of scoring.

There have been 172 touchdowns, the most in the first two weeks of any NFL season. A total of 1,502 points have been scored.

Quarterbacks are launching the ball, with a record 15,771 net passing yards through the first two weeks.

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Around the league

*Defensive lineman Igor Olshansky and cornerback Nate Jones have signed with the Miami Dolphins, who terminated the contracts of running back Larry Johnson and tight end Dante Rosario.

*The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a five-year contract with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Ngata, reportedly, will get $40 million in the first two years of the deal.

*Minnesota waived defensive end Adrian Awasom to make room for defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who was returned to the active roster after serving a two-game suspension.

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NFL statistics on Page D5

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