The Giants’ defense hasn’t always been solid this season, but for the last three weeks they’ve played as well as any in the league.
Sure, rookie Odell Beckham Jr. stole the show for the second-straight week as he tallied game highs in yards (143), receptions (12), and touchdowns (three), but equally as impressive was the way the Giants’ defense stymied the Washington Redskins.
New York's 24-13 win over Washington featured abend-but-don’t-break approach for most of the game before the offense delivered the knockout blows in the fourth quarter, but it was a manic pass rush that was the main attraction on defense.Washington (2-11) accumulated 372 total yards, but could only muster one touchdown on the afternoon, as the Giants (5-9) hammered Washington quarterbacks to the tune of seven sacks -- giving the Giants 22 sacks in the last three games.
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It was the sixth-straight game that Washington’s offense allowed at least five sacks.
The Giants even spotted the listless Washington offense prime field position on several occasions, but nothing much ever materialized. The microcosm of Washington’s futility came when they appeared to dig themselves out of compromising field position with six minutes remaining in the third quarter as Robert Griffin III connected with Andre Roberts for 61 yards. Griffin then gained 12 yards on a run on the next play, with an additional 15 yards tacked on due to a personal foul penalty by safety Antrel Rolle to give the Skins1st-and-goal from the 10-yard line. But Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins bailed out the defense with a sack of Griffin on third down to force a field goal.
In addition, theGiants cornerbacksdid a good job limiting the damage byWashingtonreceivers, which isn’t easy when someone as mobile asGriffinis on the field to extend plays.
Jason Pierre-Paul, who is having a revival season, was proud, but sounded nonchalant after the win.
“At the end of the day, it’s just numbers,” said the defensive end when asked about his 2 1/2-sack day.
Pierre-Paul now has 9 ½ sacks on the season and is the second-rated defensive end this season. Hankins, who also had 2 1/2 sacks, noted that the Giants' defense is starting to jell and "get after people" again, adding that Pierre-Paul has been the catalyst.
"I feel like he's been playing at a high level," said Hankins,"and when those numbers start coming, then everyone starts taking notice.He's been leading the way.When people say he doesn't have enough sacks [or] he's having a bad year, I don't know what they're watching."
What Giants' fans have been watching lately is a future that looks bright.
Beckham may very well win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, despite missing the first month of the season. He may already be the team's best overall player, but fellow newbie Devon Kennard has been an impact player as well. Kennard won the Defensive Player of the Week following his two-sack, seven-tackle performance last week and followed that with another solid game of a game-high seven tackles, with a forced fumble, and a half-sack.
Rolle is the elder statesman on the defense and sounded like a proud papa when discussing the progression of the youngsters.
"Once you are on the field, you are on the field," Rolle said. "You are just playing, regardless of how long you've been playing. Everyone has their own reasons to go out there, but once you hit that field, you still have to play and win out. It was definitely a team victory. At the end of the day, Coach [Tom Coughlin] harps on ‘finish’ a lot and for the most part, we haven't been doing that. [But] to finish these last few weeks, you can just build from that."
Pierre-Paul agreed, noting how well the young players like Hankins and Kennard have played lately. He also acknowledged how impressive it is that the defense has overcome key injuries, as well as Washington's uncertainty at quarterback.
"We did good. We came in at halftime and we weren’t playing great," said Pierre-Paul. "Yeah, we could have done better. But we came out with energy [in the second half] and we wanted it more. We were the most physical team and we proved it out there."
Big Blue notes:
- Beckham now has five 100-yard receiving games – and this after missing the first four games of the season with an injured hamstring. He also set the rookie record with his seventh-straight game with at least 90 receiving yards. His 12 receptions were one short of Tiki Barber’s franchise single-game mark.
- Heading into the Washington game, and since Nov. 1, Beckham has led the league in receptions (49), yards (723), yards after catch (278) and first downs (32). He’s also second in catches of 25 yards or more (seven).
- Coughlin stating the obvious when discussing the rookie wideout: “The young man is having outstanding success.”
- Manning also gave props to the rookie: “Yeah, I think you’ve got to put him in there,” the quarterback said when asked if Beckham was already up there amongst the best he’s ever thrown to.
- Before exiting with an aggravated neck injury, Colt McCoy raced for a 19-yd run. It was the 11thsuch jaunt of the season of at least 10 yards by an opposing quarterback. And five of those runs were for 20-plus yards.
- Preston Parker got the start over Rueben Randle, who also didn’t start the Jaguars’ game. Coughlin wouldn’t divulge the reason for the second benching in three games: “That's between Rueben and I."
- Manning on Randle’s transgressions:“You don't like to see that. We need him to be in tune with what’s going on.”