That’s the defense we love.

The Big Blue Wrecking Crew knocked Cutler around so badly, he thinks he is back at Vanderbilt



Offensive Summary:

The Bears had allowed an NFL-low 39 rushing yards per game entering tonight. In just the first quarter, Ahmad Bradshaw had 34 yards on four carries and Brandon Jacobs added a hard-nosed run for three yards. The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, as Bradshaw finished with 23 carries for 129 yards and a score and Jacobs finished with 6 carries for 62 yards and a score as well. What more can you say about the physicality up front tonight. The Giants refused to sit back and let Chicago’s No. 1 defense dictate their offense. Instead, the Giants hit the Bears right in the jaw and didn’t let up. Gotta love it.

While Bradshaw rushed for 100 yards, he also coughed up the ball again this week. Looking to get into the endzone for the second time tonight, Bradshaw was stripped of the football inside the Bears five yard-line after a 35-yard scamper. A Bears defender reached behind him to his right and stripped the football, and Chicago recovered it at the one-yard line. Going for the knockout punch with less than six minutes left, Bradshaw whiffed and instead caught a haymaker

Bradshaw, taking a tip from Tiki Barber, was looking up at the jumbotron to see who was chasing him. Problem was he didn’t see who was chasing him. Next drive, Brandon Jacobs got the ball after a great grab by Hakeem Nicks and he did his job: he punched the ball into the endzone. Then, on the Giants’ final drive of the game, Brandon Jacobs looked a lot like the #27 of old.

Through the air, Eli was very unspectacular. But, he didn’t need to win the game for the Giants on Sunday; the defense took care of that for him. Given the fact that the Giants had the Bears pinned down all night, Eli did not have to take over the game with his arm. That also translates to unspectacular days for the wide receivers. While the whole unit didn’t get a ton of opportunities to shine, Hakeem Nicks made the most of his chances. He finished the game with 8 catches for 110 yards, including a sweet grab in the fourth.

The Giants forced two turnovers on defense in the first half, but the offense couldn’t come away with any points. The Giants’ drives that reached the redzone played out like this: field goal; muffed snap, missed field goal; touchdown; fumble; touchdown. Going forward, the offense needs to convert off turnovers. That should be stressed heading into next week as Houston’s offense can put up a ton of points and the Giants will need to put points up every chance thy get.

Last season, the Giants had just eight runs of 20+ yards. Already this season, the Big Blue backs have equaled last year’s total with eight 20+ yard runs. Through the first quarter of the season, that’s a very telling rushing stat. The Giants are making big plays on the ground, which is a testament to not only Bradshaw and Jacobs, but also to the run blocking of the offensive line. Last season, both backs looked hesitant at times to hit holes, but maybe the problem wasn’t the running backs; the holes might not have been there to begin with. They certainly are this year, and the Giants’ backs are hitting them hard.

Defensive Summary:

Like I said in my preview on Friday, Chicago’s offensive line is weak and Chicago will rarely use a max-protect blocking scheme. That translates into a lot of one-on-ones for the defensive line, which presents a ton of opportunities for the Giants’ talented defensive line to pressure Jay Cutler. And that defensive line started the game exactly the way they needed to. Jason Pierre-Paul began the attack on third down of the Bears’ first series, forcing Cutler out of the pocket and into the arms of Osi Umenyiora. That would be a trend for the entire game. Through the first 19 minutes of play Osi had three of the Giants’ five sacks, and not long after Osi’s third the Giants sacked Cutler two more times. Like with nearly all quarterbacks, if you hit them hard enough it throws them off their game; some more than others. If you hit Cutler enough, his eyes shift from the secondary to the line. By halftime the Giants had nine sacks, and had forced two fumbles off sacks.

Even though the Giants kept getting to Cutler, the Bears were almost mocking the Giants’ defensive line. You’re going to try and block Justin Tuck with a tight end? Disrespectful. What shocked me was after around five sacks Mike Martz decided not to use more blockers in pass protection to clog the pressure. Instead, Martz tries spreading the field more. What? It was at the point where Cutler was already holding onto the ball for five seconds at a time, which is two seconds too long to begin with. You want him to potentially hold onto the ball longer? Some offensive genius you are.

The Giants had nine of their ten sacks in the first half, getting after Cutler very hard and very often. The ninth and final sack of the first half ended up doing the most damage. On Aaron Ross’s hit on a corner blitz, Cutler’s helmet hit the Meadowlands turf hard. Cutler wound up suffering a concussion and would not return for the rest of the game.

I like that Perry Fewell exploited the weak Chicago offensive line. By taking away the passing game with excellent coverage downfield, the Big Blue defense wreaked havoc up front – by only rushing four for most of the game. That’s what you need to do to beat Chicago, who basically invites you to bring pressure with only your front four. The entire defensive unit deserves credit for the pressure up front. The coverage scheme that Fewell drew up (and the defensive backs executed nearly perfect) took away the pass from the start, allowing the defensive line to get after Cutler early.

The secondary did an excellent job as well. Many of the Giants’ sacks came as a result of the defensive backs and linebackers in coverage keeping the Chicago receivers in check, and forcing Cutler to hold the ball well after he should have gotten rid of it. The defensive backs made life easy for the defensive ends, and the pass rushers executed perfectly. When the secondary and the pass rush work in unison, this unit can do a ton of damage – like we saw tonight.

Michael Boley’s sack on back-up quarterback Todd Collins in the fourth, on the night of the Ring of Honor being revealed, reminded me just a little of LT. Collins took a massive shot (he was hurt on the play but walked off the field under his own power), and that hit was a symbol of the entire night for Big Blue. They punished the Bears, from start to finish: just 110 total yards of offense for Chicago; 10 sacks; Chicago went 0-for-13 on third downs, seven of those third downs were third-and-longs. A dominant performance like this one will get you a victory every Sunday.

Knocking two quarterbacks out of the game can go a long way in reestablishing this defense’s swagger. Like Tuck said after the game, hopefully the Giants can “keep the snowball running.”

You really got the feeling tonight that Fewell is starting to get a good feel for his defensive personnel. In back to back weeks now, the Giants took away their opponent’s offensive strengths. Stopping an opponent’s main offensive threat(s) is a difficult task week in and week out. That will be vital for this defense going forward to see if they can build on this success.

Special Teams Summary:

If anybody needed to have a good night tonight, it’s Matt Dodge. Dodge was kicking to Devin Hester the entire night, so the pressure on him was already high enough to perform – perform, as in, kick away from Hester. First punt of the game, he does just that…except before he can connect his foot to the ball, he bobbles the snap. Danger was averted, as Dodge calmly picked it up, jogged a few yards to his right, and booted the ball downfield. Then, Dodge messed up on the hold on Tynes’ second field goal attempt. The snap hit him right in the hands, he took forever to get the ball down, then when he did get the ball down, the laces were pointed towards Tynes’ foot. Laces out, Dodge. Laces out.

While the kick coverage unit had been awful through three weeks, it improved a bit tonight. On the kickoff following Lawrence Tynes’ field goal in the first quarter, Gerris Wilkinson absolutely laid the lumber. Has to be the hit of the year so far.

It seemed like the Giants had a better overall “feel” on special teams, as far as what they were trying to execute.

Injuries:

Mathias Kiwanuka congratulated his teammates in the Giants’ locker room after the game. Before he walked out of the locker room, Kiwi was rushed by the media and said there was “an outside chance” he could be back next week. An outside chance is exactly what it is, however. We’ll see how this week’s treatment goes.

The Giants lost “The Best Name In Pro Football”, Madison Hedgecock, to a hamstring injury. Hedgecock is the only fullback on Big Blue’s active roster, so that will be a huge loss to the offense. We’ll keep you updated on his status.

Players Of The Game:
Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora

Both finished the night with three sacks, and Tuck forced one fumble while Osi forced two. Tuck finished the game with seven total tackles, three tackles for a loss, and two QB hits; Osi had four tackles, one for a loss, and one QB hit. They both set the tone for the whole defensive line, who as a whole really stepped up on a night with leading-sacker Kiwanuka out. They’ve been pretty consistent rushing the quarterback so far all year, and they finally got opportunities to get sacks. And they – like the rest of the boys up front – capitalized in a huge way.

Interesting Facts:

Osi had led the Giants defense in sacks 5 of the last 6 seasons. The 2008 season was the only year he didn’t – when he missed the whole season.

Through the first two quarters, the Bears were averaging one net yard per play.

It had been 14 straight games since a Giants running back had rushed for 100 yards. Bradshaw rushed for 129 tonight, and he was the last Giants running back to eclipse the century mark. He did it on Oct. 11 last season vs. Oakland, when he rushed for 110 yards.

Four straight games with three offensive turnovers, and 13 total on the year. This is a Giants’ offense just two years removed from setting an NFL-record with 13 turnovers in an entire season. Seriously, that needs to stop.

The Giants had nine sacks in the first half; but eight of those sacks came when the Giants only rushed four.

Eli passed former Ole Miss great and former Giants’ great Charlie Conerly for second place on the Giants all-time passing yards list.

What’s Next?: The Giants head to Houston to take on the Texans’ high-powered offense.