A mere four days removed from their most impressive outing of the season, the New York Giants defense will look to continue their mini-renaissance against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 of the NFL regular season.
Sunday marks 364 days since the last time the Giants won (a) a road game and (b) a second game in a row.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) October 25, 2013
As the above piece of social media so eloquently suggests, the Giants will set their stall out to kill two birds with one stone this coming Sunday. Momentum, for what it’s worth these days, is most definitely on their side. Say what you like about their first win of the season under the lights of Monday Night Football in Week 7, but the most important factor and one that Tom Coughlin will hammer home is the fact they got that ‘W’.
The victory over the lackluster Minnesota Vikings last week has been described as unconvincing, fruitless and downright bowling-shoe-ugly, but there were plenty of aspects for the Giants to be optimistic about during that 60 minutes. The all-action, all-purpose debut of Peyton Hillis was something to believe in moving forward. His abilities as a third-down back were just what Eli Manning needed, and his astuteness as a receiver and gaining extra yardage after the catch stood out on the evening. Manning himself was pick-free for the first time this season and reverted to a quarterback in the Alex Smith mold — unspectacular yet effective.
The biggest plus-point of the evening for the G-Men was the return to prominence of their much-maligned defense. Having gone soft for some time now and proven to be too easily penetrable, the Giants defense recorded an offensive shutout of the Vikings on Monday night. For a team that had conceded more total points than any other in the league this season, this was a huge step forward.
Though the secondary will be heralded for an impressive outing against what was was no-more-than-limited passing ability of Josh Freeman on the night, the initial kudos must go to the defensive front-seven. Fans, analysts and experts alike have been wondering where that previously-fearsome Giants pass rush has been this season. Pro Bowl defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul have been missing in action in 2013 leading many to believe that the Giants may have somewhat misjudged the influence of Osi Umenyiora who departed in the summer.
Wherever they’ve been they were back in business for Week 8. Okay, so their one sack on the evening was hardly pulling up any trees, but the pressure and intent was there along with more mobility than we have seen from Tuck and JPP in a long while. In addition to the stellar efforts on the D-line was the continuing influence of Jon Beason, who has re-energized the linebacker position, and his positive attitude is certainly rubbing off on those around him.
Aside from the fact the Giants defense — which is steadily making its way back up the rankings — did not concede a single score in Week 8, they also combined to limit the MVP of professional football to his worst outing of the season so far. The only thing that Adrian Peterson managed ‘all day’ was to be smothered and frustrated thanks to the efforts of the defensive tackles and their workmanlike ends. Peterson was limited to just 28 rushing yards on 13 carries, his worst numbers in a single game since Week 14 of the 2010 regular season against, you guessed it, the New York Giants.
Next up for the Giants and their rejuvenated defense is a meeting with the current leading rusher in the NFL, LeSean McCoy. ‘Shady’ is another of the league’s finest that is coming off the back of his least-productive performance of the season and will be intent on righting the wrongs of last week against a familiar foe that he has achieved much success against over the years. Shutting down McCoy will take require an equal amount of production up-front to what we saw last week from the Giants. It could also provide foundation to another success given the mobility questions surrounding Michael Vick who is set to be thrust back into action for the first time since limping out of the Eagles’ Week 5 victory in the Meadowlands.