Despite Loss, Giants Defense Takes a Positive Step Forward

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Ragazzo

The final score of Thursday night’s Giants game against the Patriots is a discouraging 35-14, but a closer look at the scoring and performance of the Giants defense shows that the unit, for the most part, held its own against the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Patriots offense scored just 21 of their 35 points, two of those scores being touchdown runs by quarterback Tom Brady, and with one of those scores coming after a Giants turnover.

While the defensive effort wasn’t pretty--the Patriots did gain 427 yards of total offense, James Bettcher’s defense stood toe-to-toe against the number one ranked passing offense, forcing one interception by cornerback Janoris Jenkins, a scoop-and-score fumble recovery by edge rusher Markus Golden, and two turnovers on downs.

“You know we studied,” Jenkins said after the game. “We knew what was coming, when it was coming, and how it was coming. We just played together.”

Jenkins collected Brady’s lone interception of the night, which he returned for 62-yards, and later defended two-passes, one-of-which saved a Julian Edelman touchdown when Jenkins knocked the ball away at the last second. 

The veteran corner, who also committed a costly penalty that gave the Patriots a fresh set of downs on a scoring drive, now leads the Giants with three-interceptions on the season.

Meanwhile, the defensive pass rush managed to get Tom Brady off his game for most of the night, thanks to a heavy dose of pressure. 

The fumble recovery for a touchdown by Golden marked the Giants’ first fumble-return for a score since defensive back Trevin Wade recovered a lateral in week 17 of the 2016 season against the Washington Redskins.

“We were mixing up the looks and trying to have him [Tom Brady] hold the ball a bit,” said safety Jabrill Peppers, who finished with ten total tackles, including one for a loss.

“We know he has a quick release time, and we were trying to take away his first initial read, and we wanted to mix up the looks upfront. I think they did a great job of adjusting, but we still got some pressure on him.” 

Overall, the Giants defense racked up two-turnovers, which led to seven points; recorded three sacks, and held the Patriots to a 46% third-down conversion rate, while forcing two change-of-possessions on downs.  

Defensive captain Alec Ogletree, who returned to action after missing two games with a hamstring strain, had a solid showing. 

Ogletree collected a team-leading 12 tackles, one-sack, and two tackles-for-a-loss, while fellow inside linebacker David Mayo had 12 tackles and a half-sack. 

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson also had a solid game, recording a single-game career-high seven tackles.

Although the result wasn’t what they expected, it was still a very encouraging performance for a Giants defense that’s been up and down and which will have ten days to get ready for its next game, a home meeting against the Arizona Cardinals.

“We just need to be more consistent,” Peppers said regarding the defense’s objectives moving forward. 

“We have to make the plays when they come to us and capitalize on our opportunities. We know we played a pretty good ball-team here, but we know we left a lot on the field. We know we have to come in and get it corrected on film and prepare for Arizona this week.”  

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