EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Super Bowl champion New York Giants finally showed up for the 1987 season.
The Giants got three touchdown passes and a record-setting performance from Phil Simms to go along with a vintage job from the defense and defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 30-7, Sunday for their first victory of the season.
A crowd of 74,391 attended the game, with only 2,169 no-shows.
It was the first time since the team moved into Giants Stadium in 1976 that a non-strike game was not sold out.
The Giants are now 1-5 and still facing the improbable task that Coach Bill Parcells has set for them--winning their final 10 games. Otherwise, making the playoffs is a long shot.
"It's just important to win now," said Simms, who completed 17 of 21 passes for 253 yards and broke a club record with his 80.95% passing efficiency.
"It seemed like any other game," he said. "We're 1 and 5, so what? If our defense plays like that every week, we'll win a lot of games. We won today the way we always do, run the ball and play defense."
The Giants, who gained 162 yards rushing, held the Cardinals to just 51 yards on the ground and forced four turnovers, including two that led to first quarter touchdowns.
"It's just a little crazy right now," said defensive end Leonard Marshall, who forced the first turnover with a sack. "We wanted to go out and do what we had to do, redeem ourselves. We are a little more confident, but we're still 1-5 with nine weeks to go."
Simms, who completed just 32 of 64 passes before the strike, was the key to the resurgence of the Giants offense, which had scored just 69 points this season. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 138 yards in the first half, including first-quarter touchdown passes of 3 yards to Mark Bavaro and 16 yards to Lionel Manuel.
Simms, the Super Bowl MVP, added a 38-yard touchdown toss in the fourth quarter to Manuel, who made a spectacular diving catch in the end zone.
The first-quarter touchdown passes came on the Giants' first two possessions, and both followed Cardinals' turnovers. The first was a fumble by St. Louis quarterback Neil Lomax on the fourth play from scrimmage and the second a pass interception by cornerback Mark Collins in the end zone.
St. Louis (2-4) never recovered from that early 14-0 deficit as the Giants defense, which gave up 135 points in five games, shut down the Cardinals running game and hounded Lomax all afternoon, sacking him five times.
The Cardinals didn't score until 1:55 remaining in the game on an 18-yard pass from Lomax to tight end Jay Novacek.
Raul Allegre accounted for the Giants' other points with field goals of 28, 35 and 32 yards.