Michael Boley recorded one sack in 14 games during the regular season. Sunday against the Packers, in the Giants' biggest game of the year, he had two, including arguably the most important one of New York's season.
Early in the fourth quarter, with Green Bay trailing by seven and facing a 4th-and-5 near midfield, Boley blitzed to Aaron Rodgers' right. With the Packers' line wholly invested in stopping the Giants' four-man front, Boley found himself in a one-on-one situation with blocking back Brandon Saine.
Boley accelerated around Saine, grabbed Rodgers by the ankle and helped bring him down. The Giants marched down the field for a field goal on the ensuing possession to bump their lead to 23-13.
New York entered Sunday knowing it would need a strong pass rush to have hope of slowing Green Bay down. Few could have predicted Boley would lead the charge.
“We might not have showed most of it during the regular season, but that doesn’t matter,” Umenyiora said. “This is the postseason and we’re playing the way we’re supposed to be playing right now.”
The Giants don't do a lot of blitzing because, frankly, they don't have to. During the regular season, they chalked up 48 sacks (third overall in the league), with just 6.5 of those coming from non-defensive linemen. Between Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck coming off the edges, and guys like Chris Canty and Linval Joseph charging inside, New York has the luxury of generating a pass rush without risking additional defenders.
It might be that reality that made Boley such a factor Sunday. Teams often unveil new wrinkles in the postseason -- see: New England using Aaron Hernandez as a running back -- and the Giants were smart to bring some extra pressure Sunday.
That's especially true given how the game started, with the Giants' front four struggling to get to Rodgers. It was apparent early on that if New York didn't adjust in some way, Green Bay's talented QB would have plenty of time to settle in.
Between bringing Boley on occasion and getting improved play from the D-line as the game went on, the Giants were able to disrupt Green Bay's attack.
Boley was a monster all day, too, finishing with nine tackles (three for loss), the two sacks and a pass deflection in the waning moments that led to a Deon Grant interception. It was, quite possibly, Boley's finest performance since signing with the Giants prior to the 2009 season.
As Umenyiora said in the postgame, the Giants finally are playing "the way we're supposed to be playing," and that includes everyone from a now-healthy front four to the secondary. Much of the attention lands on the defensive line, but the Giants' linebacking corps of Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka and improving rookie Jacquian Williams might be just as important. The mission will change a bit next week, as the focus shifts from pressuring Rodgers to containing San Francisco running back Frank Gore and tight end Vernon Davis. Another big outing from Boley would make life a lot easier for the Giants.