The Giants went on the road Sunday afternoon to face the Houston Texans: a team with the NFL’s number one rushing offense, number two rushing defense, and a team most people think could challenge the Colts in the AFC South.

They didn’t just beat them, they hammered them, 34-10. They whooped them bad, from start to finish. The last two weeks seem to be starting a Giant trend, as Big Blue has won two straight for the first time in a whole year and has their defense ranked number one in the NFC.

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In the past two weeks combined the Giants have allowed 83 rushing yards, 305 total yards, and just 13 points. None of the scoring drives have been longer than 35 yards.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense has totaled 786 yards, 51 points, 480 yards through the air and 306 on the ground.

This is not an accident. This is exactly what this team is capable of. The last two weeks have proven that the Giants are a damn good football team and when everything is going right they can beat any team in the NFL.

Offensive Summary:

Eli was good on Sunday, completing 27 of 42 for 297 yards and 3 TDs. But, he made some very poor decisions in the third quarter (granted it was when the Giants had a 24-3 lead and shouldn’t have been throwing anyway). He flinged a ball into triple coverage, nearly killing Kevin Boss, and flinged another into double coverage that was picked – all in the same drive. The interception led to the Texans’ only touchdown, and at that point with still a few minutes left in the third quarter it brought the Texans right back into the game.

Hakeem Nicks had a career-high 12 catches for 130 yards that went for two touchdowns. And he nearly had four touchdowns – all in the first half. He was tackled at the 1 at the end of a 27-yard catch that led to a Jacobs touchdown, and later he dropped a wide-open pass on what probably would’ve been a 50-yard touchdown catch. But considering how good he was, and has been, there’s no need for me to be picky. Singling Nicks with a rookie cornerback was just asking for Nicks to jump off. Big mistake.

Teams continue to double Steve Smith, with good reason still, but that leaves the big playmaker in Nicks single-covered. Even with the coverage rolled towards Smith, he had 6 catches for 89 yards and a score. Look for teams to start rolling their coverage toward Nicks. And then look for Nicks to continue making plays.

It was probably because of Ahmad Bradshaw’s ankle, but it was still nice to see the Giants use Brandon Jacobs a little more. Bradshaw had been getting three times as many carries as Jacobs; this week the ratio was 16:10 for Bradshaw. Both backs combined for 108 yards, Bradshaw led the way with 67, and Jacobs punched one in from the one-yard line. Going forward, iffy ankle for Bradshaw or not, the Giants need to use Jacobs more. He is an instant energy boost, and he understands that he needs to make the most out of every opportunity he gets as the No. 2 guy now. That chip on his shoulder makes him potentially more dangerous than he’s ever been.

Defensive Summary:

The offense will get a ton of attention this week, and it’s hard to ignore their performance – they did, after all, have a 21-0 lead less than 19 minutes into the game. But after the last two weeks, it’s safe to say the defense is back. Things can change quick, as we all saw the last two seasons, but right now this is the defense we’ve been waiting to see for a couple years.

For the second straight week the defense was dominating, and for the second straight week the defense simply shut down their opponents’ offensive strengths. Last week, Jay Cutler and the high-flying Chicago ariel attack was completely taken away. This week, the Giants were on the road in Houston, facing Arian Foster and his 689 rushing yards (134.3 per game) – number one in the NFL.

On Sunday, Foster had 11 carries for 25 yards, including nine yards on his first eight carries. The Texans totaled just 24 yards on the ground, after they had rushed for over 100 yards in every one of their games this year. The Giants’ key to shutting down Foster and the Texans running game was maintaining gap responsibility – not giving up any cutback lanes, and staying home and not over-pursuing. The Giants had a great gameplan for stopping Foster and they executed almost perfectly.

It’s amazing watching the defensive tackles this year, knowing how awful they were as a group last season. Chris Canty is such a disruptive force with his long arms either batting passes or changing where the QB is going to throw. And Barry Cofield (contract year) has emerged as a powerful penetrator and a very capable two-dimensional defensive lineman – pressuring the quarterback as well as plugging gaps against the run. Jonathan Goff has put together two good games in a row and he’s proving to be a smart player. He is reading things really well, and he’s awfully quick filling holes. Justin Tuck played great once again this week, making a home with the rest of his linemates in the Texans’ backfield: 6 tackles (4 solo), 2 for a loss, 1 sack and 2 more hits on Schaub. Antrel Rolle and Terrell Thomas were huge in run support, both leading the Giants with 5 solo tackles and both leading with 6 total tackles. Rolle is by far the best run-stuffing safety the Giants have had in a while.

Coming off a 10-sack effort against the Bears, the Giants continued their trend of terrorizing quarterbacks. The defensive line sacked Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub seven times, forced two fumbles, intercepted one of his passes, and deflected four passes at the line of scrimmage. After a three-sack performance against Chicago, Osi Umenyiora followed up with two sacks, one deflected pass, and those two forced fumbles. The front four is drastically better this season, playing right now the way they are capable of playing.

Special Teams Summary:

Lawrence Tynes made huge strides in his game with new holder Sage Rosenfels. Tynes went 3 for 3 on field goals (one was nullified by a Texans penalty). And ex-holder Matt Dodge, free of the burden of screwing up field goals with his holds, had an impressive punting day that included a 53-yarder with 4.7 seconds of hang time. Some of his kicks were line drives, of course, and he got lucky with a few bounces that prevented returns; but it was a positive day and that’s a place to start.

Darius Reynaud fumbled the second punt of the game, and he remained as the punt returner. I was sure Aaron Ross would be back there the next time. Reynaud was good on kickoff returns (26-yard average), and good sign since he had been struggling everywhere, but his punt returning was atrocious again (4.4-yard average). Oh and he muffed a fair catch at the Giants’ 11-yard line. He should be watched closely by the coaching staff going forward.

Injuries:

C Shaun O’Hara will test his injured ankle again with trainers on Tuesday. Tom Coughlin said there is “no change” with Mathias Kiwanuka (neck). RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle) and S Kenny Phillips (knee) “seemed to come through (on Sunday) all right,” Coughlin said. “I know they’re sore today, but I don’t think it’s a setback.” Good news. LB Keith Bulluck (toe) is closer to a return than first expected.

Player Of The Game:
Hakeem Nicks

12 catches. 130 yards. 2 TDs. Stud.

What’s Next?:

The Giants return home Sunday to face the 1-4 Lions.