Monday, October 28, 2013
Upon Further Review: Giants Week 8
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 15-7 victory over the Eagles:
New York Giants strong safety Antrel Rolle tallied one of the Giants' season-high four sacks against the Eagles on Sunday.
Sacks! The Giants got four sacks Sunday, which is a stunning number for a team that had only six in seven games all season prior to Sunday. Two of the sacks came from defensive backs Antrel Rolle and Terrell Thomas, one from defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and one from defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who said he was relieved when slippery Michael Vick was replaced at quarterback by the more stationary Matt Barkley (whom he sacked). Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said it wasn't "the most ideal situation" for the sacks to come from the defensive backs, but the Giants would take them any way they can get them -- especially the Thomas one that forced a turnover just before halftime.
Balance on offense: The Giants ran the ball 33 times for 81 yards, their third-highest single-game rushing total of the season and their season high for rush attempts in a game. (They had 32 against Minnesota in Week 7.) It helps that they've actually had halftime leads the last two games, which they did not in the first six. And it helps that Peyton Hillis has added a dimension as a receiver out of the backfield for which teams have to account. Everyone's interested to see how it'll work when Andre Brown is eligible to return from injury after the bye.
Incremental progress: The Giants were 8-for-19 on third downs in the game and are 22-for-49 (44.9 percent) on third downs over their last three. Through their first five, they were last in the league at 26.2 percent. It was also Eli Manning's second straight game without an interception after throwing 15 in his first six. So while it frustrated the Giants that they didn't score a touchdown, they are seeing improvement in key areas on offense.
Practicing what they preach: Through the six-game losing streak that began their season, the Giants spent a lot of time talking about the importance of sticking together and focusing on the game in front of them. Those things can sound like cliches, but this team has meant -- and lived by -- those words, and now it's paying off. We see teams every year in the NFL fall apart after falling out of contention, but that hasn't happened to the Giants. There is ample pride on display in the individual performances of guys like Rolle and Thomas and Joseph and Jon Beason and the like. There's no finger-pointing, no woe-is-us moping and no stewing over what's come before. A month ago, they likely would have lost a game as close as the one they played Sunday. But they're playing better now, and while it's not likely to matter in the big picture, Giants fans should feel good that they'll continue to get an honest effort from their team every week.