Defensive-Minded Giants on Apron of Playoffs After Shutting Down Lions

The Giants are now 10-4 and have their first double-digit win season since 2010 she they went 10-6 and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. That won’t be the case this season after they cooled off another hot team on Sunday in the 9-5 Detroit Lions, 17-6.

WR Victor Cruz, who may or may not have played his final home game in a Giants’ uniform on Sunday, is one of the remaining six players on the roster from the last time the Giants made the playoffs in 2011. That team went on to win the Super Bowl if you remember.

“It feels fantastic,” said Cruz after the game. “Anytime you are in a position, this is what Coach talks about. Being in contention, playing meaningful football in December, and that’s where we are. And we just want to continue that trend and obviously work towards a playoff win.”

There’s no question the defense is the reason why the Giants are flying high again. They have been nothing short of dominant the past few weeks, shutting down teams in the old Giant tradition.

“The defense, they hold teams to six points, we’re going to win a lot of ball games,” head coach Ben McAdoo said after the game. “That’s tough to do in this league, especially against a team like that with that many weapons. But defense played lights-out today.”

“It’s a mindset,” said safety Landon Collins, who is a shoo-in for the Pro Bowl. “Coach Spags told us all week that we don’t want last week to be our best defensive game. That’s our mindset now and we wanted to showcase today.”

“As of right now, I think that’s what we’re looking at ourselves as a championship-caliber defense, a championship-caliber team,” defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “We’re starting to get these games together, we’re starting to put them together and we’re finishing. At the end of the day, December rolls into January and you want to be finishing these games. And when the opponent watches the film the next week, they want to see you finishing, that’s a little bit of an intimidation factor.”

The Giants played without DE Jason Pierre-Paul (sports hernia) again and lost their best CB, Janoris Jenkins, in the second quarter after he suffered a back injury. His status was unknown after the game and McAdoo said he was still being evaluated.

The victory was the Giants seventh at home this season, and finished with their best home record in their 7-year history at MetLife Stadium (their previous best was 6-2 in 2012) and their best home record since they were 7-1 in Giants Stadium in 2008.

“It is big,” said QB Eli Manning. ‘I don’t know if that has ever happened since I have been here, so that is what you are supposed to do – win all of your home games and fight for the ones on the road, so we lost the one against Washington in a close one, so I am proud of the way this team has fought all year, found ways to win close football games and that is a great quality to have. That is what you have to have going into December. You get the weather, you get playoff contention, you get playoff games and you have to win close games and we have been in a lot of them. I am proud of the way the offense and defense have stepped up and made big time plays in critical moments of the game.”

The bad part of all this is that there are no more home games on the schedule this season. Their next two contests are in Philadelphia this Thursday night before finishing out the schedule a week from Saturday in Washington.

The only way they can get another home game this year is if they reach the NFC Championship Game against the second wild card team, which is a long shot.

But the playoffs are almost a certainty at his point. With two weeks to go, the Giants will lock up that top wild card spot and actually still have a chance at the NFC title if they win out and the Cowboys lose their last two games. That’s unlikely to happen, though.

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