The New York Giants absolutely had to win their game against the New Orleans Saints to maintain their division lead and keep their playoff hopes in their own hands. With tough road games against the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens on the slate, they needed to stay one step ahead of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys who had both won earlier in the day.
They did just that, beating the Saints 52-27. However, if they’re going to have any hope of making the playoffs and defending their Super Bowl title, it starts with the defense. Chris Canty echoed those sentiments to the media today.
“I’m going to say this: The defense definitely has to be a part of it. It starts up front. The defensive line, we set the tone. That’s one of the things that we haven’t done consistently—setting the tone for our defense and also for our football team. So that’s something we as a front want to get back to. Stop the run, playing physical and then being able to rush the passer. It makes everybody’s job on defense easier. It definitely energizes our football team. We understand we carry that flag, we carry that banner. We have to pick it up.”
Canty also mentioned he does not think the defense has had a signature game thus far, which head coach Tom Coughlin disagreed with.
“I don’t know what he’s referring to,” Coughlin said. “We’ve certainly been tested. We’ve had our back to the wall. We’ve had to come through in certain circumstances in order to have a chance to win. I think San Francisco was a good defensive football game. I think Carolina was a good defensive football game. So I think we’ve had some good games. I think Green Bay, you’d have to say with that offensive team and 10 points was a pretty good defensive performance. So I think we’ve had some good performances. I like what I hear if you’re telling me the defensive players don’t think that they’ve accomplished what they set out to and that they think their best games are in front of them. I would encourage that.”
The defense has struggled this season at times, but they’ve certainly shown up in plenty of games. The problem is they’ve been inconsistent and not rushing the passer at the elite level we’re used to seeing. They had five sacks against the Green Bay Packers (who were playing three backups on the offensive line), but followed that up with one in the last two contests combined.
It’s no secret the Giants defense is vulnerable unless they are rushing the passer effectively and creating turnovers. In the Giants’ five losses, they’ve only forced five turnovers and recorded eight sacks total. By contrast, in their eight wins they’ve forced 29 turnovers and recorded 23 sacks.
They don’t have a defense that’s going to physically dominate—especially against top tier offenses—but when they take advantage of mistakes it leads to wins.
They have to continue to do that down the stretch. The Redskins and Cowboys are closing in fast, and if either team wins out and gets to 10-6, they’ll hold the division record tie breaker over the Giants. I said this previously, but the Giants need to win out and remove all doubt.
The only way they accomplish that is if the defense steps up.