Somewhere Bears quarterback Jay Cutler just got sacked again by a Giants defender. Or at least that’s what it must feel like for the battered signal-caller one day following New York’s aesthetically-unpleasing, yet convincing win.
Its 17-3 conquest over previously unbeaten Chicago could be the kind of boost this uneven team needed to convince itself it can hang with the conference’s elite. Almost to a man, they felt Sunday night was the best way to get back to ‘Giant football’ – smashmouth running game combined with a tenacious defense.
“I’m hoping that was kind of a wake up call for this defense, and especially for the d-line,” said Justin Tuck, who had a career-high three sacks to go along with his forced fumble. “We have kind of been shut out the last couple of games. We just want to get back to the old ways and I think we took a huge step toward that.”
New York [2-2] was in top form, defensively, and hopes to ride that type of dominance each week. They might need to, until the offense catches up. The Giants did have a 90-yard scoring drive, and Ahmad Bradshaw had a breakout game, but for the most part, they were pretty stagnant. Their defense is what bailed them out and they hope its performance wasn’t just a perfect storm of desperation, facing a one-dimensional opponent, and it’s emotional “Ring of Honor” ceremony.
“Oh, we needed to win. We needed to grow and we needed to gain confidence,” said head coach Tom Coughlin, who added he hopes the team’s resolve carries over. “We showed resiliency and an ability to stay focused. Great resolve in overcoming...the win helps you because you’ve been in the winner’s circle, you’ve won against a real good team, and hopefully it’s something that we can build on.”
Next up is an even more potent offense, the Houston Texans, and although the game plan won’t be implemented until Wednesday’s practice, Tuck is confident they’ll have an answer for them, too.
“We haven’t talked about what we’re going to do against the Texans yet [but] when we come in Wednesday, I’m sure [defensive coordinator] Perry [Fewell] will have something up his sleeve,” Tuck said. “The biggest thing is making sure that we bring that same energy to the football field that we did [Sunday] night.”
The Giants are currently in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East, so they know how important it will be to ride that wave. Houston will present a different set of challenges because of their ability to run as well as pass. But if the Giants are to make a move in the NFC, next week is the type of game good teams win.
“We executed the way we were supposed to,” said guard Chris Snee about the Bears game. “It was a really important win because now we are 2-2 and back to .500. Being right back in the thick of things is important. We just have to play smart football from here on out.”
They’ll have to do so without its jack-of-all trades defender Mathias Kiwanuka, as he sat out the Bears game with a bulging disk in his neck. Although he hasn’t ruled out the Texans game, many presume he’ll be out indefinite, as doctors don’t know when he’ll return to action.
“Anything is possible and I’m trying to stay optimistic [because] the way these guys fought out there [Sunday] night makes me want to get back a little faster,” said Kiwanuka, who has four sacks on the year. “I wake up in the morning and the neck is a little stiff but it’s not something that I think will keep me out for a long time.”