Running back Rob Carpenter's one-yard plunge and Joe Danelo's 19-yard field goal gave New York a 10-7 victory today over Los Angeles that eliminated the Rams from the playoffs and put the Giants back into the race.
The Rams (5-9) had earned a postseason berth for eight straight years, but were shut out in the second half to extend their losing streak to five games and ensure their first losing season since 1972.
New York (7-7), which hasn't had a winning season since 1972, sustained its faint playoff hopes by rallying from a 7-0 halftime deficit.
Carpenter's leap over the middle evened the score early in the third period. The drive was helped by two penalties against Los Angeles.
Danelo's field goal on the first play of the final quarter was set up by rookie Leon Bright, who returned Frank Corral's 41-yard punt 55 yards and put the Giants on the Rams' eight-yard line.
Two of the biggest plays were made by rookies. Linebacker Lawrence Taylor intercepted a Pat Haden pass at the New York 44 midway through the fourth quarter, and tackle Bill Neill recovered Haden's fumbled snap at the Rams' 39 with 21 seconds left to end Los Angeles' final scoring threat.
"I thought our defense was the key to the ball game," said New York Coach Ray Perkins.
Los Angeles Coach Ray Malavasi said the cold weather, with winds gusting up to 45 mph and a wind-chill factor of 7 degrees, affected the Rams' game plan.
"We felt coming in that we could throw on the Giants -- but not under these conditions," he said.
The Rams outgained the Giants in total yardage, 240-147, but could manage only 68 yards through the air.
The game at Giants Stadium drew 59,659, the smallest crowd this year.