We heard them promise it on the day they hired Perry Fewell. We heard them talk about for six months before training camp. We heard them boast about it just about every day in Albany. It was like a drumbeat.
The Giants' attacking defense is back. The Giants' attacking defense is back. The Giants' attacking defense is back.
And then: Nothing. Three games went by and the Giants didn't seem to have any more interest in rushing the quarterback than they did when Bill Sheridan was pulling the levers. It was most glaring against the Colts when Fewell decided it was best to let the Colts dictate the pace of the game while the defense tried to react. It was a disaster. The other two weeks weren't quite that bad, but they weren't game-changing performances like the Giants spent all offseason promising either.
That changed on Sunday night. From the opening snap the Giants seemed consumed with making Jay Cutler feel intense pain and the Bears seemed all too willing to comply. Their offensive linemen couldn't come up with a block, Cutler seemed terrified of throwing the ball and you wondered if there had ever been a game where every single offensive play ended with a sack.
It was pretty fun to watch Osi Umenyiora tearing off the edge again. It was a delight to see Barry Cofield's creative "I'm tasering myself" post-sack celebration. It was refreshing to see Fewell calling corner blitzes and bringing the heat from every direction. It was long overdue to see Justin Tuck playing like the man who looked like the NFL's next great defensive player in 2008. And, best of all, it was thrilling to see the Giants deciding to control the way the game was played instead of letting their opponents have their hand on the steering wheel.
The only thing that's stopping us from jumping on the "OMG, the Giants are totally back!!!!" bandwagon that cropped up in the middle of the night is that we're not convinced that Fewell will let it happen again. The Bears, with their awful line and Mike Martz offense, are sitting ducks for teams that bring the heat. Their inability to run the ball makes it easy to pin your ears back and just go upfield. It's a perfect storm, but it is one that only happens once in a blue moon.
This Sunday won't be another one of them. The Texans can throw the ball and they have the league's leading rusher in Arian Foster. Unlike the Bears, they have a big-time receiver in Andre Johnson. Will Fewell be as willing to attack them as he was against the Bears or is he going to revert to the passive mode of the other weeks because he's afraid of getting burnt?
If you think back to the Steve Spagnuolo days, there was always criticism of the Giants corners because they would get beaten on plays down the field when the blitz didn't get to the quarterback. It's hard to watch, but you need to accept the risk that comes with attacking the opposing offense. No team the Giants play this year will come close to that Patriots team that they mugged in the Super Bowl so there is no team that should be afforded any more leniency from the defense.
The blueprint was laid down last night, now we just have to see if the Giants are willing to follow it in the weeks to come.