Earlier this week, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham boldly said that he thinks his team has a Super Bowl caliber defense. On Thursday, his teammates on that unit sort of shrugged at Beckham’s comments made on ESPN.
They’d rather play, it turns out, than make comments or projections.
It took nearly two months but the New York Giants defense is starting to play, maybe not quite at a Super Bowl level, but like a team that can make the playoffs. Their emergence in recent weeks has helped propel their four-game winning streak and in Monday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the defense came up with two big sacks late in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
It’s about time for a team that is now 6-3.
This past spring the Giants carved out $200 million in spending during free agency to boost a terrible defense. Now after a rough go in late September and early October, the defense is again playing well. But Super Bowl caliber? The defense won’t go as far as Beckham.
“I didn’t know that. All we can do is prove it on Sundays,” defensive end Olivier Vernon, one of those marquee free agent signings, said on Thursday. “That’s all we can do.”
There’s no denying that, in recent weeks, the Giants are playing better on both sides of the ball. They’ve now won four straight games by the difference of a touchdown or less. Some games like Monday night, the deciding factor was a single point. But in each of the four games during this winning streak the defense has stepped up in key moments with a big play to preserve the game.
Against the Bengals it was two late sacks of Andy Dalton. Against the Bears, it likely will need to be another play to set the tone or preserve a lead.
The defense knows that, even if they aren’t willing to talk quite so boldly as Beckham.
“We are just not rushing it. I am not saying we should dial it back. It is just that we know what we have here, we don’t need the hype. Odell sees it, we all see it,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “There is no need to speak about it. I think that one game at a time is the best way to go about the situation. I don’t see Super Bowl and I don’t see not getting to the playoffs. I see one game at a time and I think that will decide for us.”