Defense a bright spot in loss to Titans

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
8:56
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The defense did all it could to keep the Giants from being embarrassed against Tennessee on Sunday.

The unit did an excellent job limiting Titans running back Chris Johnson for most of the afternoon. The secondary limited Vince Young to just 118 yards in the air. Too bad Eli Manning threw two picks from inside the Tennessee 20-yard line and the team was whistled for five personal fouls.

Those mistakes were more than enough to spoil a solid effort from Perry Fewell's crew in the Giants' 29-10 home loss.

"We called for better execution this week, we got it," coach Tom Coughlin said. "There's no question we got it. I think there was one long run by the runner, that's an exceptional runner, everyone knows that. We did execute."

The Giants' defense held Johnson to 71 rushing yards on 28 attempts until midway through the fourth quarter, when Johnson broke free for a 42-yard run with 5:50 to go and the Titans up 22-10.

Johnson finished the game with 32 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns, a week after Pittsburgh held him to just 34 yards on 16 carries, snapping his streak of 12 straight 100-yard games.

"I just feel they had a lot of people in the box and they [were] being disciplined, making plays, or whatever," Johnson said. "Throughout the whole game every time we run that outside zone we was having some success with it, but basically we stayed with the run and it was able to work toward the end."

Fewell and the Giants' defense were coming off a week in which they allowed 163 yards rushing to the pass-happy Colts in an embarrassing loss last Sunday night.

So the Giants stacked the box against the Titans and employed linebacker Michael Boley all over the field. Fewell had Boley line up everywhere, from defensive tackle to safety. On passing downs, the Giants implemented their "NASCAR" package which features four defensive ends on the field at once with Mathias Kiwanuka at linebacker.

"I loved [the game plan]; I think we executed it well. I think we put them in some situations that they weren't accustomed to being in," Justin Tuck said. "I think we did a good job of stifling that running attack for most of the football game."

Still, Big Blue only sacked Young once on Sunday and didn't force any turnovers against Tennessee, which turned the ball over seven times last week against Pittsburgh. The Giants ranked 24th in the 32-team NFL against the rush coming into Sunday's game. They will face Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears next Sunday night. Tuck said he is not going to panic after the team fell to 1-2.

"All I know how to do is fight," Tuck said. "There ain't no panic button here. We just have to come back and work."

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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