Giants defense facing tough questions

Antrel Rolle and the Giants defense have given up 61 points the last two weeks.

There’s plenty of blame to go around in the Giants’ 34-0 loss to the Falcons on Sunday, but perhaps at the top of the list is a defense that’s been pedestrian at best in recent weeks.

Even when Big Blue stomped the Saints, 52-27, last week, there were reasons for concern in regards to the defense, as the Saints recorded five plays of 20 yards or more. Heading into the Atlanta game, the Giants had allowed 58 plays of 20 yards or more — fifth-most in the league. 

“We had some lapses in focus, and guys didn’t execute at the level we’re capable of,” said defensive tackle Chris Canty, who was the only Giant defender to get near Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, as he registered the lone sack. “We’ve got to find a way to get those issues fixed.” 

One of the glaring issues is the lack of a pass rush. Their one-sack output was the fourth time in five games they’ve had no more than one sack.  

Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was just as despondent when recalling the defensive failures.   

“That’s embarrassing not just to us, but to anybody who’s ever worn a Giant decal on their hat or shirt or anything like that,” Kiwanuka said.

The Falcons made such quick work of the depleted Giants’ that the contest only lasted two hours, 46 minutes in real time. It was the Giants’ fastest game since the 2005 home playoffs loss to the Panthers, and the fastest regular season game for Big Blue in eight years. 

But that’s what happens when the offense is giving away the ball at such an alarming rate, and the defense is toothless. The Giants never really stood a chance after a horrific opening quarter in which quarterback Eli Manning (38.9 rating) had two interceptions and Ryan made the defense pay.  

The secondary was undermanned with injuries to safety Kenny Phillips and cornerback Prince Amukamara, but the once-vaunted pass rush didn’t help the cause by being so ineffective. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora said he hopes the defense finds a way to fix itself, but used a silver lining by noting that sacks aren’t the end-all, be-all in gauging success. He added that he thinks the Giants’ pass rush is “close.”  

“I think we definitely put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we want to go out there and definitely perform up to our capabilities, but I don’t think we’re not doing that,” said Umenyiora. “It’s just like a guy who’s a slugger and every single time they’re throwing him balls. They’re trying to walk him and then you’re asking why he’s not hitting home runs, [and it’s because] they’re trying to walk him. If they pitch him the ball, he’s going to hit a home run. So, we’re not getting pitches. It’s really that simple. … When we get the pitches whenever we get ahead, whenever we get one-on-one blocks, we’re going to take advantage of them, but we’re just not really seeing that right now.”   

Big Blue notes

» The Giants fell to 8-6 and are no longer alone atop the NFC East. Dallas and Washington won Sunday and are tied with the Giants. But because the Giants have the worst division record of the three (2-3), they are technically in third place.  

» Sunday’s shutout was the first occurrence in the regular season since a 24-0 loss at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1996. They had scored points in 256 consecutive regular-season games, which was the NFL’s third-longest streak behind Denver (322) and Indianapolis (302). The Giants did suffer a shutout postseason loss during that period, falling to Carolina, 23-0, in a 2005 NFC wild-card game.     

» The zero points following a game in which they scored 52 in a victory over New Orleans in the previous week was a drastic drop off. The last team to have such a steep decline in points from one week to the next was the 2005 Redskins, who beat San Francisco, 52-17 on Oct. 23, and lost a week later to the Giants, 36-0.    

» The 34-point loss was the Giants’ second-worst in Tom Coughlin’s nine seasons as head coach. The Giants lost by 37 points at Minnesota, 44-7, on Jan. 3, 2010.

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


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