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Running on a full tank

The Giants’ co-tenants at the New Meadowlands Stadium, the New York Jets, may live by the credo “ground and pound” but no team actually enforces such a philosophy better than Big Blue.       

The Giants’ co-tenants at the New Meadowlands Stadium, the New York Jets, may live by the credo “ground and pound” but no team actually enforces such a philosophy better than Big Blue.

Behind a power running attack of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw and a staunch, attacking defense, the Giants [8-4] have the ability to actually carry out such bravado. This attitude especially came to the forefront when starting receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks went down with injuries the last few weeks and the Giants were forced to go back to the basics – beat people up on both sides of the ball.

This gets enhanced even more as the weather turns colder and the hits sting a little bit more.

“A lot of people don’t like to tackle in the cold,” said the hulking running back Jacobs. “We like to just come out, go downhill, no dodging, and whoever is in the way is going to feel it.”

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Jacobs is coming off a dominant performance against the Washington Redskins in which he only toted the rock eight times but finished with 103 yards – many of which came after numerous Redskin defenders did all they could to avoid contact with him. Jacobs’s backup, Bradshaw, isn’t as large but runs with as much force and controlled frenzy as any back in the league.

Jacobs, who considers Bradshaw his closest friend on the team, relishes the idea of a power-running tandem that sucks the will out of teams late in the game.

“I take a lot of joy out of watching it,” beamed Jacobs, who added he’s also been enjoying the way the defense has manhandled teams lately. “There have been four of five plays in every game that decided who will win or lose and we’ve been able to get those plays.”

One factor that has lead to the physical dominance on the offensive side has been the steady diet of the two- and sometimes three tight-end sets. Normally a running formation, the Giants have also shown a tendency to throw out of this set, which has kept defenses off balance. Due to the plethora of injuries along the O-line, the Giants have used any available healthy body. Whether it’s been extra blockers like tight end/fullback Bear Pascoe, backup tackle Jamon Meredith, or backup guard Mitch Petrus, New York is more than willing to smash whatever defensive fronts are in the way.

“The good thing is you limit what a defense does when they stay in their base personnel, so you get a pretty good feel for what they are doing,” quarterback Eli Manning said of the multi-tight end sets. “Sometimes it simplifies what the defense does and you get a better key to what they are going to do.”

Head coach Tom Coughlin said the weather turning cold, as well as attrition, is what lead to this new wrinkle. Coughlin added that his philosophy has always been might makes right, so this is just another way to enforce that.

“It’s a run-oriented, play-action oriented personnel grouping and we’ve done a pretty good job with it,” Coughlin said when asked about the package.

He added that the key behind the physicality is the new-look offensive line.

“It always has and always will,” said Coughlin. “But I think there is a lot of pride up there. The timing of [tackle Kevin] Boothe and [tackle Will] Beatty being available, when we lost other guys is timely…and [Brandon] has played powerful lately. He’s established the foundation for us and is running through some tackles.”

Except for the Vikings game, this Sunday, which will be in the comfy confines of a dome, the Giants have a tough stretch of cold-weather games coming up [home for the Philadelphia Eagles and on the road at Green Bay and Washington]. Coughlin said the tweaking of the power running attack had the weather in mind.

“It’s December in the National Football League, so if you’re going to have an opportunity to get into [playoff] position, it’s now,” said Coughlin. “Many, many big games coming up, so playing better, playing stronger, being physical – all those things are important.”

 
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