Believe it: Big Blue on winning streak

HOUSTON -- They held Arian Foster and the NFL's most potent rushing attack to a measly 24 yards.

They shut out Andre Johnson for a half while Hakeem Nicks couldn't stop catching balls at an almost franchise-record pace.

The New York Giants did some incredible things Sunday during their commanding 34-10 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.

But the most significant thing the Giants accomplished was something they hadn't done in a year -- winning two straight games.

"I kind of forgot that feeling a little bit," Eli Manning said.

The last time the Giants owned a winning streak was Oct. 11, 2009, after they beat the Raiders to win their fifth straight game and start the season 5-0. We all know what happened after that.

What isn't known is where these Giants will go now with a new streak. Unlike that team that collapsed to an 8-8 finish last year, these Giants seem to be a lot more resilient and certainly more cohesive.

The Giants had their heart and leadership questioned after a humiliating 38-14 defeat to the Colts in Week 2. And there was their penalty meltdown to the Titans in Week 3. But since then, Tom Coughlin's defense has looked unbeatable.

One week after knocking out Jay Cutler and Todd Collins and throwing a sack party against the Bears, the Giants continued their defensive dominance by smothering the NFL's second-ranked offense.

Foster came into the game leading the league in rushing, averaging 134 yards per game. Against the Giants, there was nowhere to run as Foster gained 25 yards on 11 carries. Foster can gain those yards in one cutback in a game. But when the game was decided in the first half, Foster rushed for a total of 9 yards on eight carries.

Perry Fewell's unit plugged every gap, every cutback lane and formed a virtual wall against Houston's vaunted zone-blocking scheme.

"We just made a flat line," defensive end Justin Tuck said of the defensive scheme.

Opposing offenses are flat-lining against Fewell's defense. The Giants held Houston to a total of 195 net offensive yards, well below the 415.5 yards the Texans averaged.

Over the past two weeks, the Giants' defense held the Texans' and Bears' offenses to under 200 total yards each. They have allowed a total of 83 yards rushing in the two games as well.

Four games into the season, the Giants' defense is becoming a force.

"We are starting to make our own identity now," said Tuck, who had one of the Giants' three sacks on Matt Schaub.

Two weeks ago, the Giants were a team that appeared to be in complete disarray. Former and current players had to rush to Coughlin's defense as to whether he had control of his own locker room after an 11-penalty game against the Titans.

Now, Coughlin has the Giants looking like contenders again after going into Houston and whipping the Texans. It was easily the Giants' most complete game of the season.

After failing to complete his first two passes, Manning converted his next 11 passes with seven of the balls going to Nicks.

Nicks destroyed a shaky Texans secondary with 12 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Nicks, who finished one catch shy of tying Tiki Barber's franchise record for most receptions in a game, could have had two more touchdowns but was knocked out at the 1-yard line near the end of the first quarter before Brandon Jacobs scored. He later dropped another potential touchdown on a deep pass.

But it didn't matter. The Giants led 21-0 after Nicks' second score of the day early in the second quarter.

The Giants seemed to do everything right in the first half. The offensive line gave Manning tons of time to throw. And the defensive line won its battle up front by pummeling Foster. Fewell kept Schaub off balance by sprinkling in three safeties, several corners and moving around his chess pieces. Sometimes cornerback Aaron Ross lined up at linebacker. Another time, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul stood up at linebacker before rushing the quarterback.

So even when Manning threw two picks and struggled in the third quarter, the Giants had already done what they'd set out to do. They had turned the Texans into a one-dimensional passing team like the Bears were the week before.

"I think we have only had one truly poor game this season and that was against Indy," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said of the Giants' defense. "This is the best we have played all year. On the road against a quality opponent, this is the best that all three phases have played."

Even special teams showed up. The Giants replaced rookie Matt Dodge with backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels at holder and Lawrence Tynes converted two field goals. Dodge averaged a respectable 42.8 net yards per punt even if some of his first couple of punts looked more like Scud missiles.

The Giants' trajectory is heading up at the moment and rising fast. It's been a year since that was the case. The Detroit Lions are next on the schedule at home, an opportunity for the Giants to extend this streak.

"We always knew we had talent on this team," Manning said. "It was just a matter of finding our rhythm. And sometimes it takes a few weeks for everything to sink in."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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