It took a little sense of urgency, but the Giants’ defense was resurrected Sunday night against the surging Packers.
The D got a boost from the return of Kenny Phillips, who along with Stevie Brown could play center field, while Antrel Rolle added some protection against the running game.
With better coverage, Aaron Rodgers needed to spend more time making reads in the pocket. And finally, the Giants’ defensive pass rush could rear its head.
Obviously, Phillips’ presence could allow the Giants’ pieces to fall into their proper spots. But perhaps the biggest catalyst on the defensive side of the ball is cornerback Corey Webster, who has the ability to make No. 1-esque plays and back-up nickelback sort of errors.
Webster had a mixed bag sort of night, ranging from getting burnt on the Packers’ opening drive and committing a holding penalty on third-and-11, to picking off Rodgers and limiting Nelson to 10 yards after that first quarter blunder.
The return of Phillips and reworking of the Giants’ rush defense allowed the Pack to total 116 yards, 22 of which came from Rodgers. So, running backs accounted for 94 yards — not too shabby.
The Giants’ pass rush was back in effect, though it came at the expense of the team who had allowed the most sacks in the NFL entering Sunday’s action.
New York registered five sacks, two from Mathias Kiwanuka and one apiece from Chase Blackburn, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora — the latter led to a fumble recovery and touchdown before the half.
The Giants looked back to form. The Packers had reeled off five consecutive wins prior to coming to New York for this game, and their protection issues and lack of a rushing attack was masked by how well Rodgers was playing.
New York stymied Rodgers. They held Nelson and dynamic wideout Randall Cobb in check. They didn’t allow the running game to get going. And they got to the quarterback when they knew it was feasible to do so.
In the second half, the G-Men forced Green Bay into three punts and a turnover on downs. Overall, one of the Pack’s 11 drives ended in a touchdown. Two ended in field-goal attempts. The others all resulted in a turnover or punt.
Quarter by Quarter Analysis:
In the first quarter, it was Webster who was burnt on the Packers’ first possession. Jordy Nelson swept by Webster for a 61-yard touchdown on the fade route, and within two minutes of the Giants’ touchdown on their opening drive, the game was tied at 7.
The next possession, the Giants defense came to life. Chris Canty tripped Aaron Rodgers on a third-and-3 to give the team its first sack. It forced a 55-yard field goal attempt, which the slumping Mason Crosby missed wide left.
A chance to avenge his miscue, Webster picked off Rodgers. He jumped Randall Cobb’s route and snared his fourth interception of the year. The turnover situated the Giants’ offense at the 33-yard line, which translated to a 43-yard Lawrence Tynes field goals. New York had just one turnover vs. Cincinnati.
In the final seconds of the quarter, Chase Blackburn sacked Rodgers, the second of the night for New York. Green Bay had allowed 32 sacks of Rodgers this season, the most in the NFL.
The second quarter, the Giants defense was playing with a 17-point lead. The unit forced a number of punts, as the running game was reinforced with Antrel Rolle close to the box and Kenny Phillips and Stevie Brown playing center field.
Two miscues on one drive led to a Green Bay field goal. Fullback John Kuhn was left unaccounted for, and subsequently gashed the Giants for a 32-yard gain. Then, on third-and-11, Webster was flagged for a hold on Nelson, which led to an easy three points.
The Packers had a chance to flaunt its two-minute drill at the conclusion of the half. Better safety coverage is causing Rodgers to take more time, and the Giants’ pass rush is the benefactor. Tick..tick…tick … Osi Umenyiora sacks Rodgers (a third time tonight), strips the ball and it falls into the hands of Jason Pierre-Paul. The second turnover of the night already surpasses the total vs. the Bengals.
The Giants’ D sets up its offense on the 28, which translates to an Ahmad Bradshawn touchdown run. That’s 10 points off turnovers. The Giants rendered Green Bay scoreless in third, and added to their sack total in the process. The only scare came when both Pierre-Paul and Phillips went down on the same play.