Secondary, D-line step up in Week 3

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
11:55
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It took three weeks, but the Giants finally saw their entire defense kick into gear in Week 3.

In the 36-7 win over the Panthers, the Giants' secondary and defensive line played their best ball of the season, while the linebackers continued their steady play. After shaky performances in the first two weeks, it was a welcome sight.

"Once you get everybody working together -- the D-line helping the secondary, secondary helping the D-line, linebackers helping everyone -- once you get that all going it makes the defense so much better," linebacker Michael Boley said Friday.

Entering Thursday's game, the team needed its pass rush and secondary to step up. The line, outside of Jason Pierre-Paul, hadn't been applying the customary pressure on quarterbacks that it's known for, and the secondary had struggled as it was ravaged with injuries.

Against a potentially high-octane offense, the Giants' defensive line swarmed Carolina's mobile quarterback, Cam Newton, and pressured him consistently, forcing him into bad throws. Defensive end Osi Umenyoira registered his first sack of the year, and Pierre-Paul had another great game.

In the secondary, the return of cornerback Prince Amukamara did wonders for the unit. His solid play on the outside, and rookie Jayron Hosley's stellar play in the slot -- including a momentum-changing interception at the end of the first half -- helped corral Carolina's passing game.

"Prince coming back is a big boost for us," Boley said. "Hosley stepped up and played big and he started for us in our base group and stepped up and played real well in the nickel. He's playing real well for us."

The Giants' defense has also received good play to start the season from Boley, who recorded his third interception in as many games Thursday night. Entering this season, Boley had recorded just five career interceptions, but he's been in the right spots quite often to start this season.

In the first week, his interception set up the Giants' first field goal. And in the squad's victory against Tampa Bay, his interception sealed the win in the final seconds. Thursday, he picked off Newton on the first drive of the fourth quarter to all but seal the win with his team leading 26-7.

"I've been pretty good at it," Boley said of dropping into coverage. "I just haven't had many balls thrown my way until this year."

As he's recorded an interception in each game to start the year, Boley is matching tight end Martellus Bennett, who's tallied a touchdown in each of the three games. While Boley might not acknowledge any competition, the two head into next week's game against Philadelphia with streaks on the line.

"I hope we both just keep the pace throughout the course of the year," Boley said. "I'm not gonna say either one of us is going to break."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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