The Giants may not be all the way back, but how they manhandled the once-vaunted Vikings linemen on both sides of the ball was something to behold.
“Our physicality has come along and that had to happen on both sides of the ball,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “It was fun to win and the team responded very, very well ... [but] it wasn't perfect by any means.”
It may not have been perfect, but the defense played a near-flawless game. Jason Pierre-Paul — whom Coughlin acknowledged he is seeing signs of “breaking out” now that his back is recovering – Justin Tuck, who had a sack, and the rest of the Giants’ defensive front seven did a masterful job at stifling Adrian Peterson. The league’s reigning MVP could only muster 28 rushing yards.
Regardless of the why the Vikings didn’t run Peterson more often is irrelevant, said safety Antrel Rolle. He was just happy to be a part of such an impressive defensive performance.
“I’m extremely proud. You’re not going to find too many teams that can do that to a guy like that,” Rolle said. “It was great to go out there and put it all together. ... It definitely gives us a bit of confidence. I think it’s going to help us out.”
Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman also helped out the Giants by being a standing target, as he was hit 13 times. Coughlin noted he’s recently been seeing glimpses of the once-mighty Big Blue attack, when all the pass rush consisted of was its four down linemen.
And what impressed the coach even more after reviewing the game tape on Tuesday was how many defenders were flying to the football. The Giants defense has only given up three points in their last six quarters, which is showing a marked improvement, said Coughlin. But he also reasoned that although it was a solid performance, he wasn’t ready to deem his defense all the way back just yet.
“We’re excited about winning, but quite frankly, we’re back to work,” said Coughlin. “You can compliment and then you can correct. ... No time for [standing pat].”
Rolle, however, sang a different tune and sounded as if he expects the Giants to regain their form and swagger going forward.
“I think the pressure is on now more than ever. In my eyes we have to win out,” said Rolle, who quickly realized the debate such a statement may spark. “I take a lot of heat for things I say, [so] they’re probably gonna say, 'Antrel shut up, what are you smoking?’ ... [but] it’s what I believe.”
Big Blue notes ...
»Reports out of Philadelphia stated that Michael Vick (hamstring) took the first-team snaps in Tuesday’s session and could start against the Giants this weekend.
»The Giants did not allow an offensive touchdown for the first time since Oct. 14, 2012, when they won at San Francisco, 26-3.
»Minnesota did not score after the first quarter, the first time the Giants held their opponents scoreless in the second half since Dec. 30, 2012, when they shut out the Eagles in the second half in the season finale. It was also the second game in a row the Giants did not allow a second-half touchdown.
»Coughlin said the offensive rushing attack also served the defense well, noting the amount of rushes set the tone and kept his defense fresh.
“We did have 32 rushes, which is a good indicator that there can be outstanding patience shown on the offensive side of the ball,” said Coughlin. “We showed power running the ball into the end zone ... and were able to keep [the defense] fresh.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.