Defense Puts Giants Back in NFC East Race

New York's stout play against Philadelphia's high-octane offense bodes well for Big Blue

The Giants are back in the NFC East race.

Yes, they are still only 2-6 after their 15-7 win at Philadelphia on Sunday. Also, while the Giants are just two games behind first-place Dallas, the Cowboys (4-4) host struggling Minnesota next week. The Cowboys should win that game and move above .500 once again.

But here is the thing about the Cowboys: their defense is not very good. The same goes for the Redskins, who fell to 2-5 after a 45-21 loss at Denver on Sunday. Moreover, the Eagles’ defense isn’t terribly imposing, either, even with a few improved performances recently.

But the Giants’ defense? This group is playing well, especially recently. Opponents have gone without an offensive touchdown in the last 10 quarters against Big Blue.

New York had it all working on Sunday, rendering an off-form Eagles offense toothless. They shut down the run, limiting tailback LeSean McCoy to 48 yards on 15 carries. They pressured the passer, sacking Eagles quarterbacks four times. Overall, the Giants allowed only six plays of 10 yards or more all game.

“When you start making plays, you start being very confident in yourself, and I think that this is a very confident defense right now,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Sunday.

The Eagles’ lone touchdown on Sunday came when New York long-snapper Zak DeOssie airmailed a snap over punter Steve Weatherford’s head and the Eagles recovered it for a touchdown. It was the only way Philadelphia was getting to the endzone on Sunday.

The Eagles gained just 200 yards on offense as quarterbacks Michael Vick and Matt Barkley struggled. Vick’s hamstring clearly hampered him, while Barkley’s lack of seasoning and arm strength were apparent as Philadelphia dropped to 3-5 on the season.

The Giants’ offense, by contrast, did its job. For the second straight game, quarterback Eli Manning didn’t throw an interception. Overall, he completed 25-of-39 passes for 246 yards. Running back Peyton Hillis rushed for 70 yards on 20 carries, and he didn’t put the ball on the ground. While the Giants’ offense didn’t score a touchdown, it did drive for five Josh Brown field goals. Brown, who had some early-season struggles, came up big on Sunday.

As they enter a bye week, the Giants still have work to do. Pre-snap penalties were a big problem on offense Sunday. Also, the special teams broke down bigtime, leading to points for the opposition.

Overall, though, the Giants should feel good about themselves. They floundered about for six games, but thanks to solid outings the last two weeks, they are still in the hunt in the NFC East. 

Collectively, the East is weak. And today, the Giants are still looking up at every team in the division. However, the Giants appear to be gathering strength. Now they get a week off to rest up for the final eight games. The Giants, the not long ago winless Giants, are suddenly the East’s X-factor, and their improved defense has much to do with it. 

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