As is our unfortunate job here at Giants 101, we had no choice but to point out the severe failings of the New York Giants offensive and defensive line units as they sputtered over the first few weeks of the NFL season. These two units appeared flawed as they dropped games to NFC East rivals Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, and even sputtered during ugly stretches in victories over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns.
So, it is our extreme pleasure to report what you've all seen over the past few games: these units have been turned their performance around…and it shows in the results.
Let's start with the defensive line, which was easily the team's Achilles heel, falling flat on their face against LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray (and getting torched by Trent Richardson [67 yards in the first half] and DeAngelo Williams [4.5 yards per carry] before their teams fell behind and had to abandon the run). Furthermore, the Giants showed a shocking lack of pressure on the quarterback, picking up only eight sacks in five games and routinely giving opposing quarterbacks all the time in the world.
But that all changed last week against the unlikeliest of opponents. Big Blue looked like the defensive line of old, notching eight sacks on Alex Smith and forcing him into three picks. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter had good yard per carry averages, but like Richardson and Williams before them were not allowed to take over the game. Sure it was only one game, but it was against a commanding performance against a tough opponent, and with Chris Canty on the mend things are only looking up for the defensive line.
The offensive line's transformation has been no less of a 180, although it's been a more gradual progression. This is a unit that had Eli Manning running for his life the first three or four weeks. Even worse, they paved the way for a painfully unproductive running game in three of the four weeks.
But things have smoothed out since Will Beatty's return to the lineup. Giants running backs have run for over 100 yards in three of the last four games, with Bradshaw posting a whopping 200 two weeks ago against the Cleveland Browns and 116 against a Niners team you're not supposed to be able to run on at all. Manning's also had noticeably cleaner pockets, getting sacked twice opening night and only twice in the five games since.
It sure is hard to win games when you're losing the battle at the point of attack, but the Giants have been winning that battle lately. And they'll likely keep winning games if they continue to do so.
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